GLENVILLE – When Brian Corrigan was a child, he spent hours tearing apart his father’s work computer and putting it back together in an effort to learn how the machine functioned.
His tinkering wasn’t always well-received, but it laid the groundwork for a career in the tech industry, where Corrigan has spent more than a decade working in video game development at various companies — including several successful startups he helped launch — throughout the Capital Region.
“I took that thing apart many, many times when he wasn’t home with a screwdriver, trying to understand how it worked,” said Corrigan, who grew up in Bethlehem, of his father’s computer. “And then once or twice I’m pretty sure I put it back together and it didn’t work. … I remember getting yelled at for being so interested in this. And obviously hindsight is hilarious, because it’s my career.”
Today, the 45-year-old Corrigan is still tearing things apart and reassembling them.
His latest project includes converting the former Glenville firehouse along Route 50 into the future headquarters of Rocket Science, the rapidly growing startup he cofounded last July with his business partner, Thomas Daniel, that focuses on online multiplayer video game development.
The company, currently headquartered at a leased office space in Saratoga County, just hired its 22nd employee and has offices in Austin, Texas, and the United Kingdom, with future plans calling for expanding the company’s footprint and growing the staff to 100.
At the center of that growth will be the old firehouse at 446 Saratoga Road. Corrigan said the building had been on his radar since 2004, when he drove past the site daily from his Ballston Spa home to his job at Multimedia Games in Schenectady, where he oversaw the development of casino gaming around the state before leaving to pursue a lifelong passion in the video game industry.
“Every time I drove by I was like, ‘It would someday be really cool to do something with that place,’” he said.
Corrigan acquired the building in July 2021, and immediately began developing plans for the 8,400-square-foot space that at one point was an auto shop. In the early stages of construction, he tore the building apart alongside his father.
On a recent morning, Corrigan shuffled a reporter between construction workers through the space. Renderings in hand, Corrigan eagerly showed off the home of future offices, conference rooms and a cafe space in the building’s front that he’s still looking for a tenant to occupy. Renovations are expected to be completed this summer or in early fall.
At the center of the project is a coworking space, dubbed the Capital District Gaming Studio by Empire State Development, the state’s economic development arm, which provided more than $1.4 million in support for the project in the form of a construction grant and tax credits.
Corrigan is in talks with the Tech Valley Game Space, a Troy-based nonprofit focused on making video game development more accessible, to run the space, and has held meetings with the University at Albany and SUNY Schenectady County Community College to expand degree programs using the space.
Details, Corrigan said, are still being worked out, but are expected to be finalized once the building opens.
“What we’re trying to do is figure out rather than starting yet another parallel program, which happens all the time … I want to figure out how we can support programs that already exist,” he said.
A lifelong video game fan, Corrigan is a veteran of game development, a thriving industry that, by some estimates, is expected to reach $250 billion in revenue by 2025 and has become increasingly popular in the Capital Region over the past two years.
Among the companies that call the region home are Activision-Blizzard; WB Games, a subsidiary of Warner Bros.; and a growing number of boutique studios. The industry is poised for further expansion following the introduction of the state’s Digital Game Development Program, which will provide up to $5 million a year over the next five years to attract video game companies.
Corrigan lauded the program, adding that the idea of growing the industry, particularly in the Capital Region, is one that excites him and one that Rocket Science can be a part of.
“I think we’re all really excited about it,” he said. “We were out kind of hyping the program, trying to get more people to use it.”
But video game development, while always an interest, was not the path Corrigan found himself on after graduation from Clarkson University with a degree in computer science. In 2004, he took a job with Multimedia Gaming in Schenectady, where for the next four years he oversaw the rollout of casino gaming throughout New York state.
Corrigan excelled at the position, passing complicated audits, and was poised for a lengthy career with the company after the state renewed its contract for 17 years in 2008. But he decided to leave the company after learning of the renewal, fearing he would spend the rest of his life doing the same thing day in and day out.
“I walked out the next day,” he said. “No plan. I was just like, ‘I’ll figure it out.’ ”
Corrigan soon found himself at Agora Games, a video game company based in Troy, where he worked on popular games such as Guitar Hero, Call of Duty and Saints Row. Two years after he joined Agora, the company was acquired by Major League Gaming. Corrigan stayed on after the acquisition, working to develop video game streaming, a service that today has a wide reach thanks to platforms such as Twitch.
In 2012, Corrigan launched his own video game startup, Madglory, which focused on expanding the reach of online gaming. The company had a staff of roughly 40 before it was acquired in 2017 by PUBG Corp., a South Korea-based studio. Corrigan stayed with the company for the next four years.
With the launch of Rocket Science, Corrigan is hoping to corner a niche market of the industry and is focused on recruiting the best staff possible. He declined to say which companies Rocket Science is contracted with, but said that between four and six projects are in various stages of development.
“We’re not building this company to be big,” he said. “We’re building it to be the best.”
COMPANY: Rocket Science
EDUCATION: Clarkson University
BEST LESSON IN BUSINESS: “Sometimes you’ve just got to put your head down and grind your way through it until it’s done.”
WORDS TO LIVE BY: “Ship it.”
More Outlook 2023: Looking Ahead – Our annual report on Capital Region business
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Categories: Business, News, News, Outlook 2023, Schenectady County, Scotia Glenville