By Tia Watkins, for CNN • Published 19th January 2021
Alfonso Rodríguez, 28, is obsessed with finding the elusive dopamine rush that can come with playing video games.
Earlier this year, the Orange County, California, resident earned a degree in computer science and held a job at a cybersecurity company. And then, he quit. And found himself riding a multibillion-dollar industry on the shoulders of a spreadsheet and a computer.
“Now that I’m not working with my hands, I feel bored. I feel just like a dumb robot. I want to get back into creative stuff,” said Rodríguez, who spends six hours a day and unlimited days on social media searching for interesting information about virtual reality and video games.
Rodríguez has “found virtual reality interesting because it creates new and different ways to see the world,” he said.
Playing video games, he said, delivers dopamine surges and prevents a dip in mood. But unlike a low moment in his job, playing video games is like a mini vacation that can last a few minutes.
In August, Rodríguez quit his programming position and started looking into ways to profit from his obsession. He started making money from Reddit, selling information he gathered while playing games. On the popular social media platform, he just promoted his gaming forums, which includes sleeping tips, tips for that new game you’re thinking about, how to cheat and some date-night-style tips for casual play.
Rodríguez is the first employee for San Francisco-based Intelligence Vault, a startup that matches gamers with companies that advertise on top sites such as Reddit.com and Facebook. But the company is unique in that it only helps gaming companies through the sale of ads and sponsorships.
The one-time programmer, now 24, is branching out into more creative avenues. He is hiring an art director to help popularize games and hosts his own video series on YouTube, “One Man’s Internet Experiment.” His goal is to make the mental switch from gaming to the company work part-time and make money in the process.
“It just kind of fits into my mission and what I’m doing with the company, which is making a viable platform for people to do creative work and to be loved for it,” he said.
Rodríguez doesn’t want to take on too much work, but he’d like to grow the company into something big and help gamers get creative in the process.
“Gamers will say, ‘I need a second, third platform. This is the way to do it.’ So I would hope that if it can turn into something sustainable, there will be enough games that people will be happy with. I want to have a website full of ads,” he said.
The young tech employee is looking to hire more developers and other employees to help make the company profitable. On a positive note, he has found a lot of job prospects. According to a survey from job site Indeed, venture capitalists are more likely to invest in mobile developers for their smartphones than desktop developers.
He hopes to have a full-time position set by the end of the year.
In a few years, he hopes to have taken the game industry from a niche hobby to a service that makes money for the top games’ publishers through advertising.
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