Zenas Bellace has always been a gamer.
When he was a kid, his parents bought him an Atari 800, one of the first personal game consoles. He built his own games and programs while growing up in Mt. Laurel and Cherry Hill, N.J. But when he applied to college, he didn’t realize he could pursue game development as a career.
So Bellace, now 43, attended the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (now the University of the Sciences) and spent more than 14 years as a pharmacist at Virtua Health. During that time, he got his computer science degree at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and bided his time until he was sure about a career move.
“I needed something more substantial then swapping one cubicle for another,” Bellace wrote in an email.
In 2009, Bellace attended the San Francisco-based Game Developers Conference and was inspired by the growing community of indie game developers. He found that community in Philadelphia, too. So he started saving money to pursue game development full time.
Three years later, Bellace quit his pharmacy job to launch QuadraTron, his one-man game studio now based at Old City’s Philly Game Forge coworking space for game designers.
Since then, he’s launched four games, including his latest, a “retro style dual stick shooter” for Windows, Mac and Linux called Monsters! It’s inspired by Robotron, one of his favorite games. He funded the game with a successful Kickstarter campaign and worked with game design student and pixel artist Travis Carter for the game’s art.
Bellace, who lives in Collingswood, N.J., also spent some time as an intern for Cipher Prime, the six-year-old indie game studio that launched the Game Forge. He’s currently working with a group of developers he met through Philly Game Forge’s weekly dev nights to build a “puzzle platforming” game called Threshold.
While he still has his pharmacist license (just in case), he said he’s in game development for the long haul.