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2014 40 Under 40 Honoree: Houston Brayton

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Houston Brayton makes a living in an industry more commonly clustered toward the coasts and major metropolitan areas.

But that hasn’t stopped him and Springfield-based video game developer Black Lantern Studios Inc. from bagging contracts from big names such as Warner Brothers Entertainment, The Walt Disney Co., Viacom, Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Sesame Street. The company produces commercial releases that can be seen on the shelves at Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Toys R Us.

“The video game industry is one that is quite volatile,” says Brayton, Black Lantern’s studio director since 2009. “My proudest accomplishment has been to keep a game development studio existing in Springfield.

“While many game development studios on the coasts have shut down these past years from an economy that was down, Black Lantern Studios is alive and well developing kids, family and casual games for Nintendo and other major game system manufacturers.”

Brayton has been instrumental in connecting the company with new clients and opportunities, traveling globally to meet licensors and publishers to acquire the rights to popular brands and development projects.

Among the more than 75 games developed by Black Lantern, the company has landed contracts leading to games that have sold more than 1 million units. One such game was “Moshi Monsters: Moshling Zoo,” a Nintendo DS game that crossed the 1 million-sold threshold in 2012 on its quest to become a best-seller on the handheld video game console.

“Many local residents may not know that those products were developed locally here in Springfield, and we are able to constantly surprise people in letting them know,” he says.

Brayton extends his passion for video games into the community, volunteering personal time toward helping others accomplish similar dreams.

The 30-year-old spends time working with students at Phelps Center for Gifted Education, where he says several children have expressed interest in the video game industry.

He also has served as a mentor for a child with Asperger syndrome who hopes to some day develop games professionally. Through Brayton’s encouragement, contacts and insight, the child received approval from Nintendo to receive proprietary development hardware from the company and develop games for its Wii U console.

“This is a tremendous accomplishment for a teenager to overcome, as many larger game studios have difficulty getting approved by Nintendo,” Brayton says.

“It is exciting to see what he will accomplish next.”

Brayton also gives regular donations – in the form of boxes of video games – to the Get-Well Gamers Foundation, which distributes games to children’s hospitals.[[In-content Ad]]

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