Former Youbounian Clayton Stark is the general manager at the Victoria studio of San Francisco-based gaming company Kixeye.

Into the game

Future vision: Youbou native spearheading Vancouver Island’s booming technology industry

Clayton Stark is certainly playing the game right.

Yet ironically, the former Youbou resident never envisioned himself playing such a proactive role in the gaming industry back in his early days.

Stark, 44, was actually born in Victoria but moved to and grew up in Youbou from the age of six months onward.

He is now the general manager at the Victoria studio of San Francisco-based gaming company Kixeye.

“To be honest, gaming wasn’t really a passion at an early age,” admitted Stark. “I was a passionate entrepreneur and technologist and managed to help set up many technology companies on the Island.”

However Stark admits that he “is certainly a gamer now” following a monumental “turning point 10 years ago.”

Back then, Stark was able to deliver a version of web browser Netscape to America Online, now better known as AOL, to a man called Will Harbin.

In an arguably fairy tale ending, Harbin is now the CEO of Kixeye and regularly links up with buddy Stark.

The web browser talent was a trend that would continue with Stark setting up social networking specialty browser Flock back in 2005.

Flock was then bought by Zynga, which is where he would base his next line of work, prior to Kixeye. Zynga is a provider of social games on websites such as Facebook.

“When I came out of college, the Internet was just starting up. We no longer have Blockbuster and that’s because of Netflix. Things can now be streamed over the Internet,” said Stark.

Kixeye is an Internet-based gaming company that offers viewers a chance to play hardcore-themed games online for free.

“The accessibility factor is there as it’s free to play. There’s no doubt companies such as Xbox and Playstation are still alive and well but we take down [that barrier] of paying $600 for a plastic box and having to install it in your living room.”

Stark’s Kixeye journey began further south at the company’s headquarters in San Francisco. He was working for Zynga, also based in San Francisco, then moved across the city to Kixeye, before deciding to head back closer to home and relocate a team to Victoria.

He says the gaming industry is “thriving locally.”

“As I look out my window every day, I see eight major studios here in Victoria, including Microsoft and Xbox, but there’s also a variety of independent studios that have started up and it’s a hard market to get into.”

According to Stark, Kixeye is already a big player in areas of the United States as well.

He sees a bright technological future for Vancouver Island and hopes technology will be at the centre of our economy for evermore.

“I want to see us take the steps we need to make to drive the industry forward and into the future. Victoria’s technology far eclipses its tourism. I see no reason why Victoria can’t be the next Denver, Colorado or Austin, Texas. It’s a huge technology hub now and can turn into an international one.”

“We have to capture all the revenue we can, and the best way to do that is with a sustainable economy and that has to be technology-based,” said Stark.

 

“The theory is there: the trees are gone and the fish are dead. Our future is technology and that’s something I’m very passionate about and I want to drive that forward.”

 

 

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