Some people sit and watch on the sidelines, while others play the game. Jacqueline S. Beauchamp plays the game. Not satisfied with the dearth of diversity in the video gaming industry, in 2004 Beauchamp partnered with three colleagues to start Nerjyzed Entertainment Inc. to not only put more African American players in games, but also to increase the number of developers in the field.
“I kept saying for about two and a half years [that] someone needs to… bring some different products and different experiences to the market segment,” says the former Motorola executive. Then she realized that she was that someone.
With the release of “The Black College Football Experience: The Doug Williams Edition” Nerjyzed has done what no other company has done before: It has created the first game published by a black-owned interactive digital media company for high-end video game consoles.
Over the years, Beauchamp, now Nerjyzed CEO, and her three co-founders– all graduates of HBCUs–were able to raise $8 million in seed money and hire 45 programmers and video game developers to work toward their goal of creating a sports video game that focuses on the football leagues of Historically Black Colleges and Universities.
The endeavor has been five years in the making and the Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based company has seen its share of ups and downs. But now, after the game’s autumn release, Beauchamp, 47, a former manager with experience working at Motorola and IBM, is ecstatic that BCFx is finally taking up shelf space at Wal-mart, GameStop, and Amazon.com.
BCFx features more than 40 teams from HBCUs that battle on the football field using not only their players but their drumlines. It also has interactive halftime shows complete with drum majors, cheerleaders, and bands. The drumline portion of the game allows players to compete against other players in a rhythm-based competition. Using a drum pad, gamers can choose to perform one of over a 120 songs ranging from artists like Beyoncé to Frankly Beverly and Maze.
Beauchamp spoke with Black Enterprise about Nerjyzed’s false starts, the support the company received from HBCUs, and explained why it is important to honor NFL legends who have roots in black college teams.
BlackEnterprise.com: Why did it take such a long time to obtain the certification to produce the games on Xbox and Sony Playstation consoles?
Jacqueline Beauchamp: Our product is very different. We have integrated two of the top tier genres in the video game industry into one product: football and head-to-head, rhythm-based competition on one game. We were the first to be able to do that.
The integration of two different genres [created] a different class of product, which took a little bit longer than we had anticipated. It was just a little bit more challenging. There were some rules that actually changed in the middle and we literally had to go back and redo a number of things that we had previously met the requirements on.