Building on 15 years in and around the video game and entertainment industry, Nick Ahrens has been working as a creative and production leader spanning development, editorial, marketing, and more.
Originally hailing from Minneapolis, Nick started his career at Game Informer producing and writing content for the print magazine as well as managing the Webby Award-winning editorial website. Moving to sunny Los Angeles, he took up a partnership at the critically-acclaimed pop culture gallery/marketing agency iam8bit working on one-of-a-kind projects with the industry’s leading companies such as Nintendo and Activision and opening a physical pop-culture gallery/store in the heart of Echo Park on Sunset Blvd.
Eventually wanting to satisfy his childhood dreams to make video games, Nick joined independent developer Hidden Variable Studios serving as Executive Producer and Game Director. While at HVS, he worked on several successful titles such as the critically acclaimed Bag It! and award-winning Threes! among others. Most recently, Nick spent the majority of 2019 embedded with MGM Studios as a fulltime Consulting General Manager running the Stargate Command SVOD/editorial group overseeing all business, strategy, and creative.
Project Vision Holder & Leadership • New & Existing Product Development • Branding & Identity Development
Studio Operations • Process & Development Methodologies • Broad Gaming, Tech, & Media Expertise
Staff Mentoring & Coaching • New & Existing Business Development • Artist & Contractor Relationship Management
Concept Pitch Writing & Presentation • Industry Analysis & Market Strategy • Consumer Trend Awareness
Consulting General Manager (Contract)
MGM Studios | 2019 (6 months)
Starting part-time and eventually embedding inside the company, I spent the last six months overseeing group business, strategy, and creative direction and working on rebooting the Stargate Command SVOD/fan portal with MGM Studios.
- Oversaw the relaunch of a brand new SVOD and editorial fan platform
- Built out a new editorial direction with an all-new team
- Setup new direction for an overhauled, quality-focused merch strategy
Executive Producer, Game Director
Hidden Variable Studios | 2012 - 2019 (6.5 years)
Originally hired to work on branding and marketing for our first game, my time at Hidden Variable has evolved the role into Executive Producer for the studio as well as creative leadership as a Game Director. My day-to-day covered the entire range studio from operations to product/project vision ownership. While small, our games during my time at HVS have totaled nearly 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 development projects for mobile, console, and PC/Mac
- Game Director on a new console-caliber title based on an award-winning IP
- Extensive experience in creative direction on mechanics design, UX/UI, music/SFX composition, and more
- Gained significant and invaluable experience in the mobile apps/games marketplace
- Projects have won multiple awards and been featured regularly by Apple, Google, and Amazon
Partner, Art/Design Direction
iam8bit, inc. | 2010 - 2012 (2 years)
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 spear-headed one-of-a-kind fan experiences that ranged 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 and events agency
- Worked on dozens of experience/fan-focused marketing campaigns ranging from custom NERF toys to 80's-themed gaming basements
- Co-curated several large and small-scale art shows in a custom-built, Los Angeles-based art gallery ranging from fine art to retro pop culture
- Built relationships with many new and established artists, designers, photographers, and musicians
- Clients included Sony, Nintendo, Epic, Square Enix, Capcom, Interscope Records, Bethesda, Activision, and more
Media Editor, Producer
Game Informer Magazine | 2005 - 2010 (5.5 years)
Taking a chance on a kid with big ambitions, Game Informer Magazine, the biggest video game publication in the world, became a proving ground to grow as a professional. I would eventually go on to oversee the website, pen a monthly tech column, and write regular reviews for the print magazine.
- Oversaw a complete relaunch of the Webby Award-winning Game Informer Online
- Covered industry news/features and penned the monthly magazine tech column Gear
- Shipped nearly 70 magazine issues and half a decade of daily, weekly, and monthly web content
Creative Director, Consultant
Freelance | 2010 - Present (9 years)
Working with independent clients as well as on my own projects, I've been pursuing a freelance career that has been mainly focused around creative direction and creative/industry consulting. Projects have ranged from branding and identity to directing advertorial video productions to game industry mentorship for new media IPs. Through my freelance career, I've worked with Activision, Doomtree Records, Beats by Dre, UBM and the Game Developer's Conference, Edelman, gnet Media, and more.
- Experienced in directing interactive media products from branding/identity design to user flow/experience to overall quality/consistency control
- Projects have ranged from video production/direction, web/platform builds, events, logo/branding, and more
- Outspoken designer with an emphasis on quality, consistency, and self-awareness
- Lifelong photographer with a deep love of the art. Some select photos can be seen here
- Feature writer on Medium for musing on life lessons through photography. Read an example here
- Passionate music fan spanning every genre and era. Check out what I've been listening to lately right here!
- Game industry panel lead for the Academy of Arts & Sciences and judge for the Independent Games Festival at GDC