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Joystick Labs

A 12-week accelerator program.

June 28, 2010 | 0 Comment(s)

DURHAM, N.C.—North Carolina is now home to the next generation of video game development. Joystick Labs announced Tuesday it is accepting applications for the first seed-stage venture fund and accelerator program focused exclusively on the development of digitally distributed video games. Juan Benito, a veteran executive of the gaming industry, co-founded Joystick Labs to help independent game developers bridge the gap between having a great game idea and producing a game.

“Joystick Labs represents a new opportunity in game development that is in tune with the changes we see in the industry,” said Benito. “We will reduce the barriers to entry to a point where there is nothing holding back a team of talented developers from launching their own studio.”

Joystick Labs will hold 12-week accelerator programs in which developers chosen to participate will be given the seed funding, mentorship and access to technology required to create and produce cutting-edge digitally distributed video games. Unlike the traditional video game development model that often forces developers to cede creative control and ownership of intellectual property to a publisher, Joystick Labs will allow developers to retain ownership of the intellectual property they create, as well as the creative autonomy developers crave. The first program will start on Sept. 7, 2010 in Durham, N.C. Applications are now being accepted at

"I'm so pleased to welcome Joystick Labs to the vibrant interactive entertainment industry here in the Research Triangle. We hope to support Joystick's incubation projects with our Unreal Engine technology, and we'll absolutely provide their start-up teams with mentoring and advice from our experienced game developers," said Michael Capps, Ph.D., president of Epic Games .

The creation of Joystick Labs is one of the latest signs that the video game production and distribution model is changing. With the mass adoption of browser-based and mobile gaming platforms, the market is increasingly shifting its focus away from traditional retail distribution channels to digitally distributed video games that can be downloaded over the Internet, such as games produced for Facebook, iPad, iPhone, Android and other smartphone platforms.

Joystick Labs was co-founded by Juan Benito, venture attorneys Glen Caplan and Justyn Kasierski of Hutchison Law Group, and veteran technology executive Lawrence Steffann, and is backed by a number of the Southeast's leading angel investors, including NC IDEA, Chris Evans, Brian Handly, Reid Conrad and Eric Huang.

Joystick Labs chose Durham, N.C. as its home primarily due to the large gaming industry presence in the area. Currently, over 30 gaming companies employing over 1,000 people are located in the Triangle. The decision was also influenced by the region’s entrepreneurial infrastructure, which will provide support to the companies that Joystick Labs will create.

“The Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area is the ideal place to launch a game development studio,” said Alexander Macris, president of the Triangle Game Initiative. “We are incredibly supportive of Joystick Labs and we are excited about the companies that it will launch and hopefully continue to call the Triangle home.”

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