A University of Louisiana at Lafayette graduate has helped create and launch a video game with the goal of reconnecting players with loved ones.
With the help of technology incubators in Lafayette, Nicholas Laborde, 22, who earned his bachelor’s degree in business in 2015 and is working on his master’s degree in business administration, released the game “Evangeline” through his business Raconteur Games.
The inspiration for the game came to him after his grandfather’s death in April.
“In my grieving, I wanted to create something that allowed people to appreciate their loved ones while they still could,” Laborde said.
Though the game only takes about 20 minutes in real time, it’s a six-day experience for the character. The players navigate through a neighborhood until, on the last day, they find themselves in a house and are encouraged to contact a loved one.
“It’s a very slow, simple, almost very pure experience,” Laborde said.
He wanted to incorporate color to guide players through the game.
“We wanted to make sure the player wasn’t just told what to do,” said Matt Wallace, the programmer for “Evangeline.”
When the player needs to find a specific item, the background will wash out and the color of that item will become more vibrant.
“If you want to get philosophical with it: Not everything in the world is exciting, but sometimes there are things that literally color our world and just add more emotion and meaning to simple moments,” Laborde said of the color technique.
Wallace, 24, said his favorite part of the game is the end when the character is in the house.
“I think our artist did a very good job of making it look like an actual house … like someone actually lives there,” Wallace said.
“Evangeline” is named for the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow about a woman separated from her fiancé. Laborde said they chose the name for the “love factor” of the poem and its theme of reconnecting with lost loved ones.
Laborde used the “early access” business model, which means people can play the game online and at the end have the option to pay what they feel the game was worth. This is a way to gather data about how much a person would pay to play the game, he said.
The paid version was released Friday on Steam, the largest store platform for online games.
Laborde attributes his business success to UL-Lafayette’s AcceleRagin’ program and to the Opportunity Machine, which is a program based in the LITE Center and backed by the Lafayette Economic Development Authority that helps develop and market business ideas.
AcceleRagin’ is a program through the UL-Lafayette College of Business Administration that helps students connect with local resources to launch their businesses. It was this program that connected Laborde with Zachary Barker, the executive director of the Opportunity Machine.
“That meeting was one of the most important meetings of my life,” Laborde said.
He added that he was able to secure his first investor through the Opportunity Machine and AcceleRagin’ engaged the university in promoting his business and game through social media and the business department’s newsletter.
The price for the paid version of “Evangeline” has yet to be determined, but people still can play the free version at evangelinegame.com.