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Brenda Romero receives lifetime achievement award

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Ogdensburg native Brenda L. (Garno) Romero was recognized with a lifetime achievement award at this year’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco.

The event, held March 25-29, is a gathering of leaders in the gaming industry that fosters networking and professional development.

“It’s still kind of a shock,” Mrs. Romero, a 30-year veteran of the gaming industry, said of the award.

Currently the first game designer in residence at the University of California at Santa Cruz and the CEO of Loot Drop, a company specializing in the creation of mobile games, Mrs. Romero’s record includes time working with Atari, Electronic Arts and Sir-Tech Software.

“I don’t ever remember not making games,” Mrs. Romero said.

It was at Sir-Tech, operating out of the Ogdensburg Mall, where Mrs. Romero got her start in the world of gaming in 1981. Working on the Wizardry series, Mrs. Romero lived in Ogdensburg until 1996 when she started working in Sir-Tech’s Ottawa office.

“Ogdensburg is a really important place in the history of games,” Mrs. Romero said, adding that many Japanese role playing games were heavily influenced by games made in the Maple City.

To this day Mrs. Romero says she is “particularly proud” of the Wizardry 8 game, released in 2001.

The result of seven years of development, Wizardry 8 was the final title in the series and received numerous awards.

“It was a real success,” Mrs. Romero said.

The gaming industry has changed a lot since 1981. Mrs. Romero said social media upended the gaming industry by expanding the market and changing what people want out of their games.

“Now people tend to think of games as these 99 cent things instead of these $49 or $59 things,” Mrs. Romero said. “The core gamers are the 550 million people who are playing games on Facebook and their iPhones.”

As the CEO of a mobile game company, Mrs. Romero is keenly aware of the power of mobile gaming.

“It’s just a matter of time before my iPhone becomes my console,” Mrs. Romero said.

And mobile gaming is where Mrs. Romero plans on focusing her attention after her time at UC Santa Cruz is up at the end of the year.

“My plan is to go back to small, indie game development,” Mrs. Romero said.

Beyond digital gaming, Mrs. Romero has also explored board games as an art form, creating several unique games designed to showcase difficult chapters of human history.

One of the most notable board games Mrs. Romero created is called “train.” It deals with the holocaust and is intended to confront people with the danger compliance presents in the face of evil.

“I believe it shows us the power of games and how games can educate us,” Mrs. Romero said.

Mrs. Romero was also named one of Forbes Magazine’s 12 women in gaming to watch on March 29.

“That was pretty hip, I wasn’t expecting that,” Mrs. Romero said of the distinction, adding that she plans to continue working in the “art-game movement” with her board games while continuing to push the boundaries of mobile gaming.

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