COVIDTRON 2020: Coloradans create video games during COVID-19 pandemic

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SILT, Colo. (KDVR) — Last year alone, the video game industry generated $90 billion for the U.S. economy and sales are only continuing to soar as the pandemic pushes forward.

Here in Colorado, there’s a huge population of gamers and even some video game developers.

One of them is Gil Villarreal. He owns and operates his own independent software developing business in Silt.

Like many Coloradans during the pandemic, Villarreal’s gig was impacted. Business slowed down, so he scrambled.

“We live on a ranch. We board horses so we were able to kind of make ends meet that way,” Villarreal said.

While waiting for work to pick back up, Villarreal started a project during quarantine which allowed him to tap into an old passion.

“Back in my twenties I was actually a professional game programer in Southern California,” Villarreal said.

At one point, Villarreal helped work on a game for SEGA. He took what he learned there and several other places and applied it towards something new.

“I just said, ‘Welp… I’m going to make a game!’ Just to pass the time and also to deal with some of the angst created during the lockdown,” Villarreal said.

For three months, Gil, his wife and his kids developed the game ‘COVIDTRON 2020’.

Gil Villarreal and his family in Silt, Colorado

It’s based off a dystopian game from the 1980s, but in this rendition the main character runs around the screen touching humans and freeing them from their masks. Some of the characters even have voices.

“Used a female voice and turned it into a female robotic voice and so we call that character ‘The COVID Karen’ because we’ve seen in the news some ladies that obviously tend to get excited about this mask wearing stuff,” Villarreal said with a laugh.

All in all, creating a video game was therapeutic for Villarreal and his family.

“It was fun. It was more cathartic for me to get this done,” Villarreal said.

To download or learn more about COVIDTRON 2020, click here.

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