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This article was originally published on Chicago Inno.
Chicago startup InContext Solutions is building a virtual reality platform that lets retailers like Walmart and Walgreens simulate in-store shopping experiences, allowing them to test things like shelf displays and store layouts before building their spaces. And as the venture-backed startup’s technology becomes popular with top retailers, it’s increasingly looking to a specific type of techie to build out its team—former gaming engineers.
Roughly half of InContext’s 18-person engineering staff is made of developers with a gaming background, according to Milo Todorovich, InContext’s VP of engineering. Some of its team has perviously worked at EA Sports, as well as casino gaming companies.
The common ground between video games and InContext’s retail solution is Unity, a gaming platform that’s used by half of the world’s game creators today (Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg reportedly considered buying Unity for “billions”). InContext uses Unity to build its 3D simulations for retailers, and Todorovich said the startup has found that gaming engineers understand the platform well and are able bring those skills over to InContext.
“A lot of those mechanics from gaming also translate to our application,” he said. “The transition from writing code for a game to writing code for a retail experience is actually pretty smooth.”
Like many creative fields, game development jobs are competitive and often come with long hours. Software companies that require similar skill sets can make for attractive landing spots for gamers looking for related job opportunities.
“The gaming industry is notorious for working people brutal hours,” said Brandon Sanders, an InContext developer who previously worked at gaming company ZoopTEK. “The problems I encounter as a developer at InContext are are the same you’d have at gaming studios.”
Examples include rendering lots of unique objects at high quality, he explained.
Level Ex, a Chicago startup that creates video games for doctors to help them learn new techniques, is led by gaming industry veteran Sam Glassenberg and also heavily recruits gaming engineers.
InContext is currently eyeing more gaming engineers as it prepares to launch the next version of its retail platform, Todorovich said. The startup has raised $42 million in venture funding since it launched in 2009.