CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Josh Cronkhite turned his video gaming hobby into a money-making proposition right out of high school in 1999.
He found he enjoyed creating scenarios for quests that were set up to be played in servers where players entered and took on roles.
Although the games allowed players to personalize their characters somewhat, they were limiting and Cronkhite realized players wanted more.
"I developed games where I let people make their own characters. They started sending me money to help with it, and I started making money," he said.
"Eventually there came to be more than 250 characters. I had a whole lot of fun with it. The problem with it was that some of these characters were characters from other video games and there were copyright issues.
"I stopped taking money. And what I did was create a whole new game."
Recently transplanted from Dallas to Charleston to be with a woman he met online through gaming, Cronkhite has developed a new game he believes will appeal to a certain niche. And he's developed a unique way to market it.
16 Bit Arena is a retro style game and the name refers to the late 1980s, 16-bit games played on Super Nintendo and Sega Genesis and the days of Mario (Nintendo) and Sonic the Hedgehog (Sega).
Cronkhite loves the retro games, and he believes many players do, too.
"These (newer) 3-D games, there's something missing," he said. "You can't make a realistic 3-D person. They look like mannequins moving around. You are looking at a TV screen, so your character doesn't have peripheral vision. You can't see someone shooting at you from behind."
His solution - don't try to go so high-tech.
"I prefer the throwback games. The main thing is they were a whole lot more original," he said.
Cronkhite knew he would have to come up with a unique way to market his game because independent creators just don't get noticed in the gaming world.
"I decided to do something different. Instead of trying to sell it, I came up with a new business model," he said. "And part of what I make goes to charity."
Starting Thursday and running through the end of the month, Cronkhite is offering the game for free through a variety of sources, including Amazon.com.