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Local video game developer Charles McGregor's super addictive HyperDot is now on Xbox

In-game play

In-game play HyperDot

This week, Charles McGregor released his first videogame, HyperDot, on Xbox and PC. This weekend, he’ll celebrate with an official launch party at Green Lantern in St. Paul.

Hyperdot, dubbed a “minimalist arcade game,” challenges players to dodge objects in over 100 different situations. You can play alone or with friends, meaning it has the potential to be a great party game. It’s currently available on Steam, itch.io, and Xbox.

The key to McGregor’s success has been simple: Bug the shit out of people and prove them wrong.
Before he was in Seattle talking shop with the bigwigs at Microsoft, he was a kid who needed to prove a point. “I started developing games when I was 11. I approached my dad, and told him that I wanted to make video games,” he recalls. “My dad was a computer scientist at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and he taught me the fundamentals of coding.”

Once he had the basics, McGregor was hooked. But his passion for video games was more intense than his other family members.

“I kept on bothering my dad and my brother to keep working on video games,” McGregor recalls. “My brother was really interested in video games, but he wasn’t interested in coding at all. Then my dad would come home after work, and I’d be bugging him to work on games with me. Eventually he was like, ‘I need a rest from this.’ So I was like, ‘Fine. I’ll show you both. I can do this.’”

So, McGregor founded Tribe Games, his own development company. Over the next several years he would work on various projects, until a college research paper led to him launching his first major game.

McGregor is the first black game developer in Minnesota to ship, launch, and own a video game studio/development studio.

McGregor is the first black game developer in Minnesota to ship, launch, and own a video game studio/development studio. HyperDot

“I was taking a class about science and technology in society,” he says. “So I wanted to do a paper on anti-piracy techniques in video games, and how you can stop people from stealing your work and sharing it with their friends like it was their own. The professor told me I couldn’t use PowerPoint – which I’m personally a big fan of – so I said, ‘Fine. I’ll make a game instead.’”

What started as an alternative to a PowerPoint presentation became the first version of HyperDot. “After I did my presentation for class, I went to an event at Glitch called PlayTest. We all ended up playing the game for like two hours straight.”

Glitch, an independent video game label in Minneapolis, has been producing games and investing in artists like McGregor since beginning 10 years ago. Once Glitch reached out and said they wanted to publish his game, McGregor and Nic Vanmeerten, co-founder of Glitch, traveled to Seattle.

“We went to an event where the head of independent games from Xbox was doing a talk. Right after, we approached him and just said, ‘Um, can you maybe try our game and have a meeting and such?’ And he gave us his number and was like, ‘No problem.’”

The next day, they got together for a meeting. “We were showing him the game and telling him about it. He said, ‘I’m really interested in what you guys are saying, but I want to beat this level real quick so can I concentrate on this for a minute?’ That’s when we knew we had something.”

The party this weekend will give fans and friends the chance to play the game, chat with McGregor, and see some of the history that went into making it. “I’m going to show off some of the old versions, back when it was called Anti-Piracy, and then let people see how it developed into HyperDot,” he says.

The game is already getting good reviews online, but for McGregor, he’s been living the dream way before now. “When I was 10, I thought it would be fun to go to shows like E3 [the massive video game trade expo] just to see what it was like,” he says. “To be at an event like that showing off my own game with Xbox has been mind blowing. It’s just a dream come true.”

IF YOU GO:
HyperDot Launch Party
Green Lantern
7-11 p.m. Saturday, February 8
Free general admission; $45 VIP happy hour 5-7 p.m.