A 1999 Sacramento State graduate, Mark Otero has achieved stardom as a video game entrepreneur. He founded KlickNation and later sold the company to Electronic Arts for $35 million. He's now general manager of Capital Games, an EA studio. Though his enterprises have global reach, they also directly enrich and infuse Sacramento's regional economy. Here and in the accompanying video, Otero talks about how his Sac State education positioned him for success, his favorite memory of the campus and his advice for college students.
Q. With all the ups and downs involved with creating a new business, how do you keep from getting discouraged during the rough patches?
A. I'd like to say it gets easier to overcome the rough patches (especially ones that you've encountered more than once!), but the truth is that it's very difficult not to get discouraged when things don't go your way. What keeps me going is the belief that I will overcome the challenges and eventually find success. Self-belief is very important.
Q. How will computer gaming evolve in the next five to 10 years?
A. Gaming is evolving at a startling pace, especially with the ubiquity of mobile devices. Over 1 billion smart phones are expected to be sold this year. Imagine the possibilities in reaching 1 billion gamers! I think that's the big opportunity. It's hard to fathom what gaming will be like in five to 10 years, but what I do know is that we're in an exciting era of gaming that's unprecedented in reach and diversity.
Q. How has what you learned at Sac State helped you with all you've accomplished?
A. I've directly applied my computer science education at Sac State in building my first commercially successful game. The game has been played by millions of people worldwide in three languages.
Q. What changes have you seen at Sacramento State since you graduated in 1999?
A. The new facilities and the can-do excitement on campus made me want to return to school again! I continue to be impressed by how genuinely passionate the professors, leadership and administrators are in delivering a world-class education.
Q. What is your favorite memory of Sac State?
A. I made my first 2D computer game at Sac State. It was an upper-division computer science course, and the professor gave the students the freedom to choose their final assignment. The game was the talk of the class!
Q. What advice would you give a college student today?
A. Follow your passion - nothing is more important than following your passion. I wasn't the best student, but I consider myself the best student on the subjects that mattered to me. Be courageous, have fun - follow your passion. - Craig Koscho