#OperationCodeBlack: Andrew Augustin

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Highly lauded and awarded, Notion Games LLC founder Andrew Augustin is on the precipice of becoming a household name within the walls of gaming. He was named one of Forbes’ 2015 30 under 30, gracing the pages of publications like Black Enterprise, The Source, and Pure Nintendo. With a game currently generating major buzz on Steam, he’s come quite a way from playing Super Mario Bros. 3 in an Austin, TX McDonald’s.

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Augustin, a product of the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy at the University of Texas at Austin, got his start in 2011 working as a character designer and world builder for The Sims 3 Pets. Before that, though, the young artist had Notion Comics: while others were scrambling to work with Marvel and DC, he fashioned his own avenue for creating and displaying his own worlds rather than some other universe’s.

I created Notion Games because I wanted to bring the comic ideas I had to life in an interactive format. And in between looking for jobs in the industry I figured creating a company and working on games would essentially be a “two birds, one stone” move. I could continue learning and being productive while also having the chance of being successful with what I create. If that failed, well,  I now have more experience and I can apply to more companies for work.

 After The Sims 3 Pets, he took his talents as a designer and illustrator and began creating his own games. You can see the influence of games like Donkey Kong Country, Super Mario, and Kirby in his latest public offering, Super Ubie Island REMIX; a colorfully designed platformer featuring Ubie, a ship-wrecked alien on Climate Island. Other influences include games like Scott Pilgrim, Metal Gear Solid, and television shows like Dexter’s Laboratory, Naruto, and Dragonball Z. That list appears to be an homage to all things an 80s baby that became a 90s kid could imagine.

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If Nintendo has Mario, and Sega has Sonic, Notion has Ubie, a loveable green cutie with a passion for balloons and double jumps. Super Ubie Island REMIX takes us on his adventure through Climate Island to defeat Dr. Terrestrial. Ubie’s adventures don’t stop there though, as Augustin has crafted Up Up Ubie, now the Up Up Ubie REMIX, and of course, Ubie’s original adventure Super Ubie Land. Up Up Ubie REMIX is just as much fun to play as it is to listen to. Augustin is currently working on Team Notion, a 2-d beat-em-up ripe with diverse girl-power. Sandy (Latina), Agent Red (Real Name: Sarita Smith, African American), and Agent Blue (Kim Harris, Asian and Black) are three ladies poised and ready to thwart the global domination of the evil zombie alien, NeNe. Also in the works? A collaboration project between Augustin, Justin Woodward, and Lazy Mills called Boom Tag.

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As a black man in the gaming industry, Augustin has had his share of accolades, like being featured in Black Enterprise’s “The Business of Entertainment” feature, but he’s had his own share of personal drawbacks as well. The burden of designing and funding games themselves has shown itself, even though he’s proven he can make games with little to no budget, a plight many black devs can identify with. He speaks of a friendship with  Woodward (of Super Comboman fame), but other black developers are few and far between. One major charge is the responsibility of being a minority in a field where there isn’t much representation.

A lot of times I get told that I can’t stop making games because I am helping pave the way for minorities in the gaming industry. I personally just want to make games and not have to worry about the weight of an entire people on my shoulders.

Even so, Augustin still makes a way through with Team Notion, and while he can personally identify with several characters from several games without maybe cosmetic, physical representation, he still sees the need for more diversity in gaming, and not just from the black perspective.

In terms of characters in gaming that I feel I can relate to… I am pretty open minded when it comes to relating with characters. I can play something like Life is Strange and completely play the role as the main white female protagonist. I can play something like Metal Gear Solid and relate to Solid Snake. I do wish there were more characters of color, not just African-American, but examples like Native Americans, Brazilians, Puerto Ricans, Egyptians, and more. There are so many cultures with plenty of stories to tell and I’d love to hear and experience them.

Many stories to tell, indeed. Maybe ones about green aliens, and kick-ass Black, Latina, and Asian girls? I can’t wait to experience them, and Andrew Augustin has enough talent to power the balloon that will take him higher, and higher.

You can follow Andrew @datboidrew on twitter and check out his site Notion Games.

AndrewAtWork

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