Nick Barba wanted a way to remember his mother, Lynn.
The 35-year-old app developer and programmer did so in the best way he knew how: by making something.
His mother, who lost her battle to brain cancer in 2013, loved Disney movies and its characters.
mLAB Audio, the company Barba founded that same year, recently released its first game — Banana’s Split, a mobile game where a purple gorilla riding on a chihuahua must navigate and jump over obstacles. The game is available in the app store.
“She was always into Disney movies, animations and Pixar movies,” Barba said. “Disney was the inspiration for the graphical style of the game.”
Prior to creating Banana’s Split, Barba had no experience creating a mobile game, he said. Since graduating with a master’s degree in music technology from New York University in 2005, the Wilmington native has worked as a freelancer on various development projects and with two NYU colleagues at Malloc Media.
Prior to moving back from New York to Wilmington eight years ago, Barba had also worked for Sony Music Studios and the Blue Man Group.
Although new to the game development realm, Barba said he enjoyed seeing the project unfold as he and a few other partners worked to get it mobile-ready.
“To me, at first, I wasn’t familiar with this style of gaming. But you’re on a mobile phone and maybe you’re in line and want to play a game for a minute,” Barba said. “The game needs to be able to be quick and fit the user experience of how people use their phones.”
A portion of the game’s proceeds will be donated to the National Brain Tumor Society. Barba’s goal is to raise $25,000 for research this year, he said, so that more can be done to help patients after they are diagnosed with a tumor.
“[For my mom] it seemed to be OK for a while and then it wasn’t,” Barba recalled. “There was a second treatment option. Then the third option came, which worked for a little while. We went to a doctor’s appointment and there were no more treatment options. Me and my father didn’t realize how the options are such a big part of it. She died a week later.”
“Brain cancer still has that stigma of being a death sentence,” he added. “It should be [a cancer] where you have a good chance. Finding out your [limited] options takes the fight out of some people.”
In addition to continuing his freelance development work, Barba said he would like to continue to create games. He said he also plans to get more connected to the Wilmington tech community.
“I’m from here and there’s a lot of creative people here,” Barba said. “It’s landscape is changing and tech is a good business for Wilmington to embrace.”
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