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Stressed Out? A PA Video Game Publisher Wants To Provide Chilled-Out Gaming Options

Whitethorn Digital
A capture from "Calico," an independent game published by Whitethorn Digital about running a cat cafe on a magical island.

In an industry flooded with shooter games and adventure titles, one Erie company is branding itself as an oasis for stressed out gamers. Video game publisher Whitethorn Digital aims to give a platform to independent, chilled-out games.

A video game publisher works in the same way as a record label or book publisher, according to Whitethorn Digital managing director Matthew White.

"We find people doing interesting things and then pipeline them onto the consoles you're familiar with, like the Nintendo Switch and the Xbox," he said.

White said he created Whitethorn Digital to support indie game designers and bring attention to games that are more approachable for new players and don't need hours’ worth of commitment.

According to a 2018 Nielsen report, 66 percent of Americans over 13-years-old play video games, typically between five and eight hours per week. White said it's a lot easier to spend that amount of time playing when you're a kid or teen, since it's harder for adults to find that uninterrupted free time.

"But as we've gotten older, that time is not necessarily available to us anymore," White said. "Whether we have children, or work, or if we're just too stressed-out to do something that demands an unbelievably high level of precision and presence." 

Two of the platform's biggest games, "Where the Bees Make Honey" and "Calico" are, respectively, a narrative puzzle game about childhood nostalgia and a simulation game about running a cat cafe on a magical island. Both have charming graphics and soothing music.

Whitethorn Digital is one of eight up-and-coming companies in the newest cohort of AlphaLab, the East Liberty-based startup accelerator. While the company's base will stay in Erie, White said remote employees currently in Pittsburgh will move into AlphaLab's co-working space.

Kathleen J. Davis covers news about just about anything at WESA. She’s also the primary reporter and producer of WESA’s weekly series Pittsburgh Tech Report. Kathleen originally hails from the great state of Michigan, and is always available to talk about suburban Detroit and Coney Island diners. She lives in Bloomfield.