Jump Button works to change or extend this narrative by telling students what is possible, what their options are and how they can enter the pipeline. At the same time, the company is working hard to expand, so that at some point it can offer internships to local students from primary school to college.
If students attending Murrell Dobbins Career and Technical Education High School are any indication, there will be no shortage of interest. They represent hundreds, if not thousands, of gambling-obsessed Black and Latino teens in the Philadelphia area, but they don’t have the resources or the access to learn more about gambling as a career.
“I watched what the kids were doing in their free time. They were watching other people’s YouTube playing games,” said Anis Taylor, who teaches digital media at Dobbins. “They wanted to learn techniques and tricks, just like if we were watching basketball and wanting to improve, we would watch Kobe [Bryant] practice.”
Dobbins recently hosted a games seminar where industry professionals spoke to students about the creative aspects of games, such as music and audio, drone operations, and global opportunities. Surprisingly, the game still isn’t part of Dobbins’ digital program, but Taylor expects it to be soon.
“There are a ton of jobs in this space that you can get involved in. We want to teach them that you don’t have to be in this industry to consume the game. You can actually produce the game,” Taylor said.
Meanwhile, Jump Button Studio continues to grow. The company already has a relationship with Snapchat and is working on projects with the animated sitcom “Boondocks.” Last week in Los Angeles, Madehdou met with executives from Niantic, the makers of Pokemon GO, to discuss potential projects around games and animation.
At 25, Madehdou has even bigger dreams. He wants Jump Button to become the first major black-owned gaming company in the world. He wants to create generational wealth for his family. He already has a head start to corner the market as a black gaming executive. But he doesn’t want to be the only one.
“I hope black kids will join our journey and be inspired to go out and do their own thing,” he said. “Because I’m not trying to control space. I’m looking to create more owners in the space.
That’s exactly what Nicodemus Madehdou is doing, having evolved from playing games in anonymity to becoming a beacon who makes sure kids like him can see themselves in the games they play and in the industry that creates them.