A 15-year-old kid from Chanhassen, Minn. is creating his own adventure by building, designing, and programing an arcade game of his own. Not a game for an iPad, like some many kids his age play, but one of those big arcade games like Pac Man or a Donkey Kong.
Nate Allard, who has had a keen interest in gaming since he was young, designed the game called “Lost Glitch” -- which involves a hero needing to overcome a series of hurdles and pitfalls to advance levels.
“I'm kind of worried it comes off as narcissistic,” Allard said of the final product.
That is because in many ways the game is a reflection of his life. When he was 3 years old he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome, a neurological disorder that falls on the autism spectrum. He is high-functioning, but can have difficulties in social situations from time to time.
At 15, Allard has worked hard to manage the disorder and is aware of the challenges it will pose for him.
“People with autism have a hard time coming up with original content, which is quite explainable," he said. "Kind of like brains rewired differently. Same goes with me.”
At an early age, Nate’s parents recognized his obsession and unique talent for gaming.
“Typically kids on the spectrum will find that one thing that they focus in on and go deep,” Nate’s dad Todd said.
To encourage his love of gaming, Nate enrolled in a youth technology program at Macalester College in St. Paul. There he is learning more and more about coding and programing video games.
“And you have to comb through everything you've done, which could be hundreds and hundreds of lines of code,” one of Nate’s fellow campers said of the program.
For his mother, the joy comes from watching the usually shy Nate come alive in the classroom.
“It's always great seeing his instructor, interacting with him,” she said.
His older brother Anson is also becoming aware of Nate’s unique ability and talent.
“It's really taught me patience," Anson said. "And it's not so much embarrassment anymore. It's more proud of him for being different and unique.”
Nate will be a sophomore in high school this fall, he plans on working in the gaming industry when he grows up.