Lloyd Summers started making video games at an early age. However, he did not start his own software development company, Red Iron Labs, until much later — after working what he called unfulfilling corporate jobs. 

Lloyd got his start at a young age after entering into a game development competition with a dream that his passion would one day become more than a hobby.

“I wanted so badly to enter that competition because I was like, I could win $100 and maybe one day this will turn into a career,” says Lloyd.

Later in life, Summers found himself working at many large companies including Suncor and Smart Technologies. Unfortunately, he did not find these positions satisfying.

“I was just filling a desk,” says Summers. “I know I wasn’t learning. It wasn’t that I wasn’t enjoying it, it just wasn’t challenging.”

Summers began to learn skills that were required in the field of virtual reality development. Summers learned these skills through working at a few local tech start ups as their lead 3D developer. After doing so, Summers and his co-founder Rosalinda Hernandez began to explore the idea of starting a company and making something of their own.

“We said, ‘You know what, we’ve got the equipment, and we’ve got the experience that it would be worth it to break-off.’ We knew we had enough money, we did it as an experiment,” says Summers

Hernandez also notes how difficult it was to gain the technical skills required to start a virtual reality development studio.

“For game development in virtual reality, like, there’s no degree at the university,” she says.

However, she learned a lot of the skills from Summers and says he is more than willing to aid people in learning new technical skills.

“From the technical aspect, he’s savvy,” says Hernandez. “I know he’s very good at what he does. So when I need help, he is my go to.”

After Summers and Hernandez started Red Iron Labs, Summer’s met with Shane Berezowski through the Calgary Game Developer Association.

“That’s kind of how we got in contact there. I think I was just chatting around and we kind of saw that we both had a familiarity with VR and just kind of got together ever since,” says Summers.

The two developed a positive work relationship where Berezowski learned a lot about software development from Summers and is now working under him as a augmented reality developer at Red Iron Labs.

“Working with him has been great because he’s very flexible, very forgiving, very knowledgeable,” says Berezowski. “I know that if I ever get stuck with anything, I can approach him.”

After Summers and his company established themselves, they began to do experiments for well-known computer manufacturer Razer.

“The first one was an experiment that we had done three years ago for Razer. So Razer had bought 1,000 copies from us and so we were part of an experiment for them.” says Summers

Now that Red Iron Labs had proven themselves as a formidable software development house, they began work on their own project titled Abduction in which they wanted to put their own twist on a traditional alien-style game.

“We’re trying to get into a way where we can make games that are interesting without focusing on the violence, without focusing on the stereotypical game elements.” says Summers

Another interesting project Red Iron Labs have been working on is a first-person shooter game where players can wager real-world money on their in-game performance and potentially win from a large pot.

“You’re basically paying to compete, but in it, the more that you wager, the more health that you’ll have in the fight,” says Berezowski.

Hernandez is aware of the ever evolving landscape of game development as they are always looking for the next big innovation and working towards improving their future games and projects.

“You’re playing based on the standards of today,” says Hernandez. “You don’t know what tomorrow is.”

Now, Summers and his team are growing Red Iron Labs into something unique in Calgary, and implementing fresh new ideas into the game industry.

Editor: Holly Maller | hmaller@cjournal.ca

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