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Brent Bushnell on the Future of Gaming, Immersive & VR Experiences

Brent Bushnell
Brent Bushnell

“You might have a light bulb moment on the couch. But everybody’s had an idea. It’s about action and doing something with it.”

– Brent Bushnell

Bushnell may be a name that sounds familiar, and it should be. Nolan Bushnell was the founder of ATARI and Chuck E. Cheese and essentially paved the road for his son Brent to follow in his footsteps. Games like: Cyberpunk 2077, Grand Theft Auto, Pokémon, Fortnight, Minecraft, Call of Duty, Super Mario Brothers would not be possible if it wasn’t for the innovations and “gamifications” his father invented and created.

Brent Bushnell sat down to speak with Setorii Pond in this episode of OWC’s Leaders & GameChangers. He has made an impact everywhere he goes and finds ways to make the impossible possible. Brent’s resume is as impressive as the projects he has been part of, and his hunger to innovate, develop, and invent has only just begun. Brent began creating interactive art with Eric Gradman. And inspired by their synergy and the possibilities, they created Two Bit Circus. Their goal was to create an environment where everyone can connect while having fun and celebrating creativity. It is an experiential entertainment company that strives to create an immersive, socially fun micro amusement park with an interactive supper club, free-roaming VR, robot bartenders, and more.

The company strives to be a micro-amusement park for adults and help rebrand what it means to be an engineer while also getting more kids into the fun side of science. Two Bit Circus also created and produced the STEAM Carnival. This isn’t your average carnival. It is a high-tech and traveling circus created to inspire kids by incorporating science, technology, engineering, art, and math – STEAM. Students learn how to make their own games and then throw their own carnival. Think of it as a reimagining of the science fair, but just more fun and with much more innovative creations. As if this wasn’t commendable enough in itself, they have prevented over 570 tons of usable materials from going into landfills through their program! As for Two Bit Circus possibly being affected by the pandemic, they pivoted to make everything virtual, so we can all enjoy virtual games and more remotely with the ones we care for most.

Some of the many projects Brent has been involved with through the years include being an on-camera inventor on ABC’s Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, a founding member of Syyn Labs that created stunts for GoogleDisney, and the band OK Go, whose video “This Too Must Pass” generated over 67 million views! For the music video created 10 years ago, they created a Rube Goldberg machine. He licensed a tradable playing card game he created with his brother to TOPPS baseball cards when they were in school. He was the CEO of Doppelgames, a mobile game platform company that sold to Handmade Mobile in 2012, and founder of Anti-Aging Games, a company creating casual games that reduce the risk of early memory loss.

Brent believes that the world presents you with endless opportunities, and you cannot let yourself get bogged down by what you “should” be doing. He wants to inspire a movement of mentorship. Brent is currently the Two Bit Circus Foundation board president, a 501(c)(3), that deploys STEAM-based programs to inspire students about invention and operates annual STEAM Carnivals bringing the excitement of STEM & STEAM to communities around the world. He is teamed up with Annenberg to share content and projects they are creating, and a supporter of Clowns Without Borders, an advisor to the Incubator School and USC’s Entrepreneurship School, and they are on Twitch and YouTube. In his spare time, he mentors teens in entrepreneurship via programs such as SPARK and NFTE. If you would like to follow Brent’s journey, you can follow him on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/brentbushnell

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Episode 5