LaDavion Haralson is 14 years old and a rising freshman at Northside High School. Soft-spoken, passionate, and excited for high school, he is by most accounts a normal teenager — except that he just launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund his first smartphone game.
“You are a child named Timothy, and you go into a very deep sleep and wake up in a dream world where you have to fight monsters and work your way through all the levels,” LaDavion said of the game’s concept. “It’s a top-down 8-bit role playing game.”
Six months ago, he teamed up with two close friends and asked them for help building the app under a business he calls Cold Portal Games.
“One of them is a really good artist, and she will be doing the character designs,” LaDavion said. “My other friend is trying to learn coding. He will be helping me make the levels and the storyline.”
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He says some of the level layouts are finished, as well as the storyline, art and some of the coding. But there were more costs than he anticipated, which is why he turned to Kickstarter to help raise the funds for him to keep working on the game.
“I usually work through my free time, and I came to a point where I thought I should make a Kickstarter for it because if I want to make it into a good app, there are some fees I have to pay.”
LaDavion said he needs to pay at least one copyright fee, plus fees to cover getting the game on the Apple and Google Play app stores. It’s very important to him, because he says an earlier idea for an app was stolen before he could create it.
“It’s tedious,” his mother said of the copyrighting process. “But we need that certificate.”
LaDavion is hoping to also use the funds to buy new software and hardware to make the game as polished as possible.
“Once we get part of the game finished, we’re going to put out a trailer for it,” he said. “With school, I would say I have a goal of finishing it by next summer.”
LaDavion’s mother, Nadia, said she always knew what her son was capable of, and so did his teachers.
She told a story about a time LaDavion was experimenting with adding an operating system to their home computer. While tinkering, LaDavion wound up accidentally deleting Windows from the computer.
“He did this while I’m in school for dental hygiene,” said his mother, laughing. “But you know, I can’t stay upset because he’s trying to teach himself.”
LaDavion said he first started getting interested in coding back in sixth grade.
“I always wondered how they made websites. I took a class for it, but they didn’t really teach you coding. It was just teaching you how to type. And so I found some free websites that told you some things about coding, and that’s how I became more interested about it.”
He is learning three coding languages right now: HTML, Java and C++. To build the game, he is using a program called GameMaker.
Later, he hopes to study cybersecurity.
“At first I wanted to make an app company,” he said. “But then I came up with the idea of doing security analyzing or making a security app.” With Georgia now a major regional center for cybersecurity, he’ll be in good company.
Until then, LaDavion says he and his team will continue working on the game. “We are all here to help each other make this app a success,” he says on his Kickstarter page. “‘When one is weak, we are all here to pick up the pieces’ is our motto.”