“Job Simulator” is currently ranked as the No. 1 virtual reality game on PlayStation 4 and the 17th most popular game overall, surpassing once top-tier games such as “Batman: Return to Arkham” and “Battlefield 1.” Designer and programmer of the game Andrew Eiche got his start at Binghamton University and visited campus on Monday night to talk about his career journey.
Eiche, who graduated from BU with a degree in computer engineering in 2007, gave a lecture to about 25 students as part of BU’s “Cool Connections, Hot Alumni” series, a program that enables students to connect with successful alumni face-to-face. Sitting at a conference table at the Alumni Center in Old Dickinson Community, Eiche called his talk “Finding Your Path” and discussed the transition from obtaining his specific college degree into his current career outside of engineering.
As a student, Eiche was involved in multiple clubs and organizations such as WHRW, Pipe Dream, the University Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, the Harpur Jazz Ensemble and founded the BU Pep Band. He also liked to code and learn about computers. A week following his graduation at BU, Eiche jumped right into work at Lockheed Martin in Owego, where he stayed employed as an electrical engineer for eight months. However, he wanted to pursue a career that would allow him to be more creative, so he scrapped all previous plans to move up in the company to follow his original passion: game design.
“It’s great if you know you’re going to do this one thing, if that’s the path you set forth on,” Eiche said. “But it’s totally okay if you like something else and take a turn toward that. You don’t have to do what your degree tells you to.”
Eiche dedicated himself to learning basic coding for video games through independent reading and classes at Montgomery College in Maryland. He worked at companies like General Dynamics Corp. as a developer, creating personal games on the side to improve his résumé, and eventually fell into a more stable employment at the government corporation Booz Allen Hamilton, where he would stay for the next five years designing apps for government agencies like the IRS.
In February, Eiche found a new job at a small startup in Austin, Texas called Owlchemy Labs, a video game company that solely produces virtual reality games — the lead game being “Job Simulator.” Other works include “Dyscourse,” “Jack Lumber” and “Rick and Morty Simulator: Virtual Rick-ality.” Despite losing company benefits like stock options and healthcare, Eiche said he found great solace in moving to Austin to fulfill his dream as a game developer. The position allowed him to combine both of his interests, he said, and he became a project manager, designer and programmer there.
Eiche said working for Owlchemy enables him to create great connections while still maintaining fun in the workplace.
“We make everyone feel welcome,” he said. “We do all sorts of things in our games. It’s been a crazy few months. We went to Conan O’Brien and had him play ‘Job Simulator.’”
With the rise of virtual reality games and newer platforms like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation 4 virtual reality games on the horizon, Eiche said the future for a virtual reality game development company like Owlchemy looks promising. Eiche’s company recently raised $5 million from HTC , Qualcomm: Wireless Technology & Innovation and other private investors and Eiche said they are looking to be on the forefront of virtual reality game development.