Mississippi State University’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Outreach is dedicated to assisting students in building business startups and has produced multiple successful ventures. One of the startups is MSU alumnus Ryan Gilbrech’s Meta Games video game company.
According to Gilbrech, who graduated from MSU with an undergraduate degree in biological engineering and a master’s in business administration, Meta Games, founded in 2015, has been continually working on the creation of its first game titled “Slayers for Hire.” The game is a platform fighter style game, similar to the style of the popular “Super Smash Bros” video game.
“Games, as a whole, have been a very integral part of my life, and I saw that there aren’t a lot of games like Super Smash Bros., especially at this time,” Gilbrech said. “There’s a ton of potential with this type of game.”
“Slayers for Hire” has been in the works for years now, and there is currently a free alpha build version on Discord where players can help alpha test the game. There is currently one character that is playable through this version, with five others announced, Gilbrech said.
After years of work, “Slayers for Hire” is set to release later this month on Kickstarter along with the release of another playable character and the announcement of many more. Gilbrech explained that after the release, the immediate plan for Meta Games is to continue developing and improving “Slayers for Hire.”
“Right now, the plan is to keep growing (Slayers for Hire). I’d love to do stuff with this game where you can have an online co-op mode. We want to add a ton more characters and fun game modes,” Gilbrech said.
However, as a biological engineering graduate, Ryan explained that he came into the video game field without the skills to actually produce the company. As a result, he decided to return to school to get his MBA and learn how to run a business. Video game creation skills such as programming, artistry and animation could be learned through online tutorials or classes, Gilbrech said, but creating and running a company were skills he would need help learning—a decision which led him back to MSU and the E-Center.
Eric Alan Hill, the E-Center’s Director of Entrepreneurship, said he and the E-Center worked with Gilbrech throughout the process of creating Meta Games from its initial founding in 2015.
“Some of [the work of the E-Center] was just being a sounding board. All this comes together to refine the idea and turn it from a hobby or interest into an investment opportunity,” Hill said.
According to Hill, in addition to assisting in the creation of Meta Games through advising and idea refinement, the E-Center also connected Gilbrech with Wade Patterson, the president of the Bulldog Angel Network, a group of investors dedicated to helping MSU student businesses through investments. Gilbrech’s Meta Games was actually the first recipient of one of these investments through a grant of $150,000, which was meant to act as early capital to help with startup expenses.
While the opportunities the E-Center was able to offer to help build and refine Meta Games were crucial in its formation, Robert Moore, a marketing professor at MSU, said Gilbrech’s success should be attributed to his work ethic and the way in which he used the opportunities he was given.
“Ryan is very much a self-starter,” Moore said. “He used his time here very effectively, strategically choosing the types of classes that would make him most successful.”
Overall, both Hill and Moore said Gilbrech’s dedication to his dream of creating Meta Games and his diligent work to make it happen were just as important, if not more so, than his work with the E-Center in achieving the degree of success and potential he now has in the video game field.
Additional information about Meta Games and “Slayers for Hire,” such as release information or access to the newsletter, can be found at discord.gg-metagames or metagames.studio.