March 20, 2019
Maya Rogers is in charge of the family legacy.
As CEO and president of Blue Planet Software, she heads the company that’s responsible for safeguarding and managing all aspects of the classic game Tetris. From her office in Oahu, Hawaii, Rogers oversees everything from merchandising to promotional opportunities to new games building on the arcade title that debuted in 1984 and remains as popular as ever with players.
Hawaii’s not a spot you’d think of, perhaps, as a video game hub, but for Rogers, it was an easy decision.
“Why not?,” she says. “We live in a digital age where we can work from wherever we choose to. Being in Hawaii, we’re in the middle of the east and west, so we’re able to do business with the U.S. and Europe and time-zone wise it also works well with Asia. And, since we’re in Hawaii, our biggest partners have no problem coming to see us.”
Hawaii’s admittedly not exactly a hotbed of video game development and activity, but it’s hardly devoid of game makers. There are six gaming companies that call the state home, employing 276 people, with an average salary of $96,779. The industry adds nearly $13 million to the state’s economy and has a growth rate of 3.23%.
Rogers is hoping that increases in the years to come. And Blue Planet is doing its part to make that happen. Beyond its work with Tetris, the company has also launched a tech accelerator program that brings in entrepreneurs from around the world. The focus of those start-ups isn’t exclusively gaming related, but several have worked on ventures revolving around esports and scalable technology in the game industry, with a focus on game streaming.
For Rogers, gaming is in her blood. Her father, Henk Rogers, worked with Tetris creator Alexey Pajitov to secure the rights to distribute the game worldwide. And she’s been playing the game since grade school.
As president of Blue Planet, though, she’s had a front row seat to witness the game’s longevity.
“I’ve seen over time how much people love playing Tetris,” she says. “It’s just a matter of getting it into people’s hands. Our 18-25 demographic is almost as big as our core demographic, people 35-50 who grew up with the game. We’re finding there’s a healthy balance in the age demographics … [in part] because of Tetris 99, which is a testament to how many people love playing this game.”
At the same time, she’s able to be part of a fast-paced industry in an environment where things are a lot more easygoing.
“It’s the best of both worlds,” she says. “For me, traveling to California—or anywhere—is nothing. Then I get to come back to Hawaii. When you live here, there’s a different sense of connection to the land. I lived in Los Angeles for 14 years—and I still miss it. But life changes when you live in Hawaii, because you’re surrounded by nature and not a concrete jungle.”