Saturday, August 27, 2011

Affinity case study: Gaming, gore, fans, and more

People often say: Do what you love and the money will come. James Silva enjoyed computer games but worked as a dishwasher to pay the bills. However, in 2007 after combining his love of gaming with his experience as a dishwasher, he was catapulted to fame as a celebrated independent game developer.

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The co-winner of Microsoft’s Dream Build Play competition, Silva was awarded a contract to publish his game “The Dishwasher: Dead Samurai” on Xbox LIVE® Arcade. That 2007 effort garnered him national recognition as “a one-man game maker” (Barbara Ortutay, Associated Press), “the most buzzed-about indie game developer of the moment” (Jason Killingsworth, Paste Magazine), and “the poster boy of Microsoft’s efforts to ‘democratize game development’” (Chris Kohler,

Silva has since relocated from his small Utica, NY, space to a larger Schenectady, NY, location that accommodates his growing team that’s helped promote his April 2011 follow-up release, “The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile” for Xbox 360®. While this release continues to please fans and critics alike, Silva’s games aren’t for everyone – “Vampire Smile” is rated Mature 17+ for “Blood and Gore” and “Violence” – and that’s the point. His work appeals to a niche market where he has gone deep and narrow, building on his original story line to bring his fans more of what they loved in “Dead Samurai.”

In additional to all the media coverage and online buzz, Silva has broadened his reach and fan base via gamer festivals and merchandising. Through his games and in his business operations, he lets folks in on his life in engaging, intriguing ways, such as his affinity for cats that are part of the game and featured in his Ska Studios blog.

While Silva would be known in the corporate world as the founder and principal of his small company, his indie spirit and unique identity are reflected in his title of Lead Dishwasher. From the way Silva runs his business to how he creates his games – using his enviable and expansive skill set – he has drawn the attention of many throughout the industry, not to mention gamers themselves.

Silva continues to inspire aspiring game developers as he’s led the way – and even written a book – showing how it can be done. If you have an affinity for something, chances are others do too and are often waiting for someone to step up and take the lead like Silva did.
How does one stand up and take the lead within an affinity group? In addition to Silva’s example, check out the previous blog review of “Tribes.”
Brenda Dow is a specialist in Marketing, Advancement, and Business Development. She holds degrees in communications and human resources management, and blogs about affinities and affinity related activities at


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