Proudly hailing from Minneapolis, Nick Ahrens started his career at Game Informer producing and writing editorial content for the print magazine as well as managing the Webby Award-winning website. Moving to sunny Los Angeles, he took up a partnership with a focus on design at the critically-acclaimed pop culture gallery/marketing agency iam8bit working on one-of-a-kind projects with companies such as Nintendo, Sony, and more, while opening a physical pop-culture gallery/store in the heart of Echo Park on Sunset Blvd.
For nearly a decade, Nick has been in game production starting with his role as Executive Producer and Game Director at independent developer Hidden Variable Studios working on several critically acclaimed titles including Tic Tactics, Threes!, and Skullgirls Mobile. Most recently he’s been serving as the Executive Producer at publisher MWM Interactive working with independent developers to bring their visions to players including Mundaun, Maskmaker, Stonefly, and the highly-anticipated Oxenfree II: Lost Signals.
Building on nearly two decades in and around the video game and entertainment industries, Nick has become a creative and production leader spanning development, marketing, and more. His unique history has built a diverse skillset to work on nearly all aspects of game and general media production while executing with an obsessive eye for detail and quality.
Artist Direction & Relationship Management | Branding & Identity Development
Business Development | Creator, Designer & Game Developer | Gaming Technology & Media
Relationship Cultivator | Process & Development Methodologies | Project Vision Holder
Hands-On Producer | Studio Organization & Operational Management
MWM Interactive | 2020 - Current
As Executive Producer, I oversee game production from creative direction to logistical and beyond helping small developers with producing their vision into a high quality player experience. This touches every aspect of a title from greenlight to core production to publishing/marketing and release.
- Oversee all game production needs including creative feedback, services, and more.
- Help guide and support developers with their vision and turn it into a high-quality product for all major platforms including Sony PlayStation, Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo Switch, PC, and VR.
- Manage a high-output production team that acts as an extension arm of the developers.
- Source and collaborate with external artists and creators to enhance products alongside marketing including branding/logos, key art, trailers, and more.
- Help manage the project greenlight process reviewing pitches, talking with developers, and assessing viability of future titles.
- Leverage long history in games for potential business development opportunities with first and third-parties as well as other industry connections.
Executive Producer, Game Director
Hidden Variable Studios | 2012 - 2019
Originally hired to work on branding and marketing for our first game, my time at Hidden Variable quickly evolved into an Executive Producer role for the studio as well as creative leadership as a Game Director. My day-to-day covered the entire range of the studio'd needs from product ownership to operational strategy. Despite the size, the games during my time at HVS have totaled over 20 million downloads.
- Part of the leadership team that directed the short and long-term vision of the studio.
- Oversaw all general production of multiple game projects for mobile/console/PC.
- Extensive experience in direction on design, UX/UI, music composition, and more.
- Gained significant and invaluable experience in the mobile apps/games marketplace.
- Projects won multiple awards and featured regularly by Apple, Google, and Amazon.
Partner, Art/Design Direction
iam8bit | 2010 - 2012
Moving from Minneapolis to Los Angeles, I took up a partnership with the rest of the iam8bit creative collective where we built out an art gallery as well as produced award-winning viral marketing campaigns and direct-to-fan live events. With a focus on pop-culture such as gaming and music, iam8bit builds out one-of-a-kind fan experiences that ranges from Street Fighter "fight club" events to end-to-end video productions to artist-designed/hand-made, limited edition physical merchandise.
- Helped grow the art and fan-centric iam8bit brand into a boutique marketing agency.
- Worked on dozens of one-of-a-kind experience/fan-focused marketing campaigns ranging from custom NERF toys to 80's-themed gaming basements.
- Co-curated several art shows in the Los Angeles-based gallery on Sunset Blvd.
- Clients included Sony, Nintendo, Epic, Square Enix, Interscope Records, Bethesda, Activision, and more.
Game Informer Magazine | 2005 - 2010
Taking a chance on a young kid with big ambitions, Game Informer Magazine, one of the biggest video game publications in history, became a proving ground to grow as a professional quickly. While learning the ropes of the game industry from great leadership, I would eventually go on to oversee the website, pen a monthly tech column, and write regular reviews for the print magazine. I was fortunate to work on many in-depth and huge game reveals including Bioshock Infinite, Fallout 3, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and many more.
- Covered industry news, review, features, and penned the monthly magazine tech column Gear.
- Shipped nearly 70 magazine issues and half a decade of daily web content.
- Traveled the world doing in-depth coverage and reveals on many AAA games including Fallout 3, Bioshock Infinite, Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, and Borderlands.
- Oversaw a complete relaunch of the Webby Award-winning Game Informer Online.
Creative Director, Industry Consultant
Freelance | 2010 - Present
Working with clients as well as on my own projects, I’ve been pursuing a freelance career that has been mainly focused around creative and industry consulting. Projects have ranged from branding and identity to directing advertorial video productions to game industry mentorship for new IPs. Clients include MGM Studios, Activision, Doomtree Records, Beats by Dre, Game Developer’s Conference, Edelman, gNet Media, and more.
A list of projects/titles and professional contacts is available upon request
- Outspoken and obsessive design head with an emphasis on aesthetic quality, consistency, and detail.
- Never ending student of best practices around foundational design philosophies and styles.
- A genre chameleon that can quickly jump into any type of project style.
- Lifelong photographer and editor/publisher on a small, physical photo zine Sensor & Salts.
- Annual panel judge for Independent Games Festival, Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, as well as ongoing student and new employee mentorships.
- Pretty good at darts sometimes.