Willem Rosenthal

A few years after turning an internship into a full-time job at a game studio, Willem Rosenthal founded Proto Games, which successfully launched the mobile game Pakka Pets in 2016.

Willem Rosenthal ’10 (Illustration B.F.A.) wasn't afraid when he decided to leave his full-time job at the game studio Kabam to strike out on his own as an independent game developer, though he admits that, in hindsight, the bold move should have been more daunting.

"It probably should have been scary," Rosenthal explained. "But things had been going pretty smoothly since I was at MICA. I went from an internship to a job at a small studio, and when that studio was bought by Kabam, I stayed on as a lead designer. I'd had a lot of really good luck until that point."

Rosenthal also had a slew of ideas, one of which eventually became Pakka Pets, a game app inspired by Tamagotchi-a handheld digital pet-on-a-keychain that was popular in the 1990s. "The game I'd been working on at Kabam had been out for a while, and the company was putting funding into newer games," Rosenthal explained. "I was ready for something new, and I had all these ideas for different games. When I was talking to a friend at work about my idea for Pakka Pets, he said, ‘We should make that.' I thought we should make the game on the side, but after a few months, we'd both left Kabam to work on this new idea."

The pair, co-founders of Proto Games, worked for two years creating Pakka Pets, a mobile app-based game that launched in the U.S. earlier this year and currently has 150,000 downloads. The game allows users to go on a digital pet adventure where they can "raise, evolve, and discover" different kinds of Pakka Pets. Each Pakka Pet has its own quests and adventures, and users unlock new corners of Pakka Town as they complete each level.

Rosenthal and his partner recently signed a publishing deal, which will allow them to put more money into marketing the app. "I'll probably continue to work on Pakka Pets for the next four to six months and assess how the game is doing. I've been working on this for almost three years, so I admit, I want to start something new," Rosenthal said. "I have a big book with even more ideas. I'm looking forward to what comes next."