Occasionally Asked Questions

Well, yes actually I’m here quite frequently to update my blog. Nice ice breaker I guess. But hey, i’m super glad you came to join me; I can’t wait to meet you! My name is Kurt, I’m an entrepreneur that is addicted to creating. Whether i’m making video games, doing Parkour, or guiding a social interaction, I am infatuated with the underlying process of self-expression, creativity, and discovery. I also think a lot (probably too much).
Its all over the map! Currently, most income comes from my game studio, Lab Rat Games. I create both in-house games and games for various clients. However, I also do art & design, web development, video editing, and more. Many people argued I needed to specialize, and at first I beat my self up about it. But then it hit me: I do have a specialization, and its quite a valuable one! I am specialized in providing creative end-to-end technical solutions. Many outsourced technical projects fail. Why? Because they require lots of parts from lots of people. This results in a disjointed process that is prone to more confusion and miscommunication. Not only can this slow down the process, but it often results in a poor translation from vision to creation.

Generally speaking, I call what I do “Value Mining.” Anyone can do it! Value Mining is capitalizing on what ever we feel compelled to do. Our life is a giant creative effort, and anything that happens has value in it; we just need to find it (and mine it). Sitting around watching movies all day may seem useless…but what if you started a movie review blog? Or got inspired to write a screen play? There is value in nearly everything!

This allows me to be who I am, do as I do, and enjoy what that looks like. And with some extra effort and creativity, I can extract the value in my experiences and expressions in an attempt to make a living.

After my sophomore year in College,  my “misalignment” became obvious. The motives and goals driving my actions were fed to me by other people. I knew something was off, but the constant reassurance of others chopped down my doubt. Looking back, the doubt should have been a signal enough; no one doubts the truth! Since then I have been trying to realign. I continued at the University of Michigan part time while pursuing creative endeavors, including starting Lab Rat Games.
Creativity involves breaking out of established patterns in order to look at things in a different way.
During this time I experienced a lot of spiritual and creative growth stemming from my new understanding that there is no “right” or “wrong” way. There is just a way. And despite that it looked different from what I had in mind, I realized its okay! In fact, its the most exciting part.  Life becomes a giant creative endeavor full of surprises.
I always loved to make games! My passion was apparent enough that my 5th grade teacher allowed me to make board games during “writer’s workshop” as long as I wrote down the rules. Around 12 years of age, I was at a bowling alley with a family friend. At some point in the night, he said something that blew my mind: “I’m making a video game.” Making a video game? By yourself?! I had no idea it was possible. This was the first major paradigm shift that made me realize anything is possible if taken one step at a time.
Yes, I am currently attending the University of Michigan to study Computer Science, and have just under 2 semesters to go! I have mixed feeling about how College is structured. A university has so much to offer, but it all slips by unnoticed when you’re drowning in work. For many students (from my experience), even class isn’t of interest. They will do what ever it takes to get the grade and get out; learning is a secondary goal. When the teacher and the evaluator  are one in the same, real issues arise. As a result of stream-lining and standardizing the process of evaluation (grading), creativity is stripped out and students forget how to think for themselves.

Here’s my advice: don’t fall for the, “you’re making an investment for the future,” bullshit if you hate your schooling experience. Just do it differently. Your teacher sucks? Drop the class. So consumed with work that it impedes your ability to take advantage of what school has to offer? Go part time. Still feel like the services the University provides are not worth your money? Look into alternative options. Don’t just boar through the pain because someone promised you a bright future. Since I told you now, I have permission to laugh at you when you graduate in debt and can’t even find a job.  

Yup! My freshmen and sophomore year summers I was a workaholic. I worked as an intern at a company called Entrega Systems doing all sorts of things; web development, software development, and even web penetration testing. I have additional experience at Lipari Foods and a local Ann Arbor company called MyBuys. These were all wonderful experiences, and I learned a ton! However as a student, companies seem to be able to slap the word “intern” on your job title and pay you dirt. When I found myself doing work that full-time salaried employees were doing, it was quite discouraging!

Take an intern wage, double it, and go bid on some development projects on oDesk or Elance. You will still be undercutting everyone, can work from home, have your own schedule, and make twice as much. Hmm, after that discovery I decided I will never be an “intern” again.

The most valuable skill I have is my ability to learn and research. Hands down. In the tech world, everything is changing so fast. If you only “do what you know” you will dig yourself into a deep hole. I have realized that anything is possible as long as I can reduce the problem to the next step. Over time, I have learned how to confidently tackle problems that are initially foreign. This versatility is the key element to any success I have had.

Oh and I forgot the most important element: my ability to fail. I am proud to say that I fail all the time; failure doesn’t scare me. In fact, its my most important tool for learning. Constantly trying to avoid failure can become paralyzing. This fear severely slows down the learning process, and forces people to color within the lines. Succeeding is nice too though…most people aren’t too afraid of that though.