Life, Liberty and The Pursuit Of Video Games

All opinions expressed are solely my own and do not represent those of my employer or any other organizations.

In a recent discussion, the topic was broached regarding violence in video games and opinions regarding whether acts against specific minorities or otherwise marginalized groups should be allowed. The argument being that such acts perpetuate a mentality that promotes or rewards such behavior and as such, should be banned from sale or distribution.

While I in no way condone acts of violence to ANYONE let alone against marginalized groups, I do have to say that I stand by the idea that it should not be up to the judiciary of the government to enact laws making them the sole arbiters or what is decent or appropriate for sale or consumption.

Explicit Content

In July 2005, in an attempt to protect minors from the dangerous impact of certain video games, the State of Illinois enacted Public Act 94-0135, the Illinois Sexually Explicit Video Game Law, which was comprised of the Violent Video Game Law (VVGL) and the Sexually Explicit Video Game Law (SEVGL).

The day after enactment, the plaintiffs filed suit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, facially challenging the constitutionality of both the VVGL and the SEVGL. The plaintiffs are associations representing video game manufacturers and retailers. The defendants are the Governor of Illinois, the Illinois Attorney General, and the State’s Attorney for Cook County (collectively, “the State”). The plaintiffs are all participants in the video game industry’s ratings system-the Entertainment Software Rating Board (“ESRB”), which rates games on the basis of the maturity/age for which the game is appropriate. At the outset of the litigation the plaintiffs moved for a preliminary injunction and the defendants moved to dismiss. The motion to dismiss was denied.

Breakdown of the current ESRB system used by the gaming industry for self-regulation (outside government oversight)
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A Look Forward and A Look Back

I can’t express how much I am enjoying my position as Lead AI and Encounter Designer at Hangar 13. We are doing some really exciting work that is utilizing many of the latest advancements in AI and I am looking for even more ways to include them in our designs.

“In general, games pose interesting and complex problems for the implementation of intelligent agents and are a popular domain in the study of artificial intelligence. In fact, games have been at the center of some of the most well-known achievements in artificial intelligence. From classical board games such as chess, checkers, backgammon and Go, to video games such as Dota 2 and StarCraft II, artificial intelligence research has devised computer programs that can play at the level of a human master and even at a human world champion level. Planning and learning, two well-known and successful paradigms of artificial intelligence, have greatly contributed to these achievements. Although representing distinct approaches, planning and learning try to solve similar problems and share some similarities. They can even complement each other. This has led to research on methodologies to combine the strengths of both approaches to derive better solutions.” A Survey of Planning and Learning in Games (2020)

While I can’t discuss our current project while it is still in development, I can say that I’ve been documenting the process and am excited to share it when we can.

Until then, here’s a photo from back when I presented the research we were doing in the astrophysics laboratory at the University of Alabama. I’ve often talked about the work I did in the astrophysics lab but I’ve never written it down before so I thought I’d share all about that experience!

Ben Retan presenting research on "The Formation of an Interstellar Dust Analog"
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Success Story @ GDC

I am honored and privileged to have been a member of the Conference Associates program at Games Developers’ Conference for over 11 years. I started when I was still in college and it has been an invaluable community of highly creative and talented individuals who posses both skill and kindness that have helped me along my journey within my career.

This past year at the conference, I arranged to give a speech to some of my fellow associates prior to our volunteer shifts and wanted to share this heartfelt video with you all.

Nothing but love to my fellow CAs and all the staff and UBM that help us put on a great show for the boss! (the attendees)

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Ben Retan Demo Reel 2018

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Defiance 2050 Beta and Release Dates Announced

Defiance 2050, a reimagined take on the 2013 shooter MMO Defiance that was revealed to the world earlier this year, will launch on July 10, Trion Worlds announced today. Before it does, an open beta will run from June 22-25, providing players with an opportunity to try out different character classes, weapons, and progression systems.

As a Senior Systems Designer at Trion, I personally have been responsible for overseeing the reworking of the weapons and the implementation of the class system.

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Announcing Defiance 2050

I am really excited that I can finally share with everyone the new project I have been working on at Trion.

As a Senior Systems Designer, I am responsible for the core combat, including base weapons, movement, melee and grenades. I am also working on a new, revamped class system!


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League of War Mercenaries Now Live Worldwide!


It is 2028. War has changed. Nations & corporations now employ professional armies to wage war against their enemies. As a mercenary commanding powerful armies for the League, battle for military contracts & build an devastating fighting force to claim victory in the battlefield.

  • Highly realistic 3D gameplay & environments
  • A true strategy game with real-time tower assault gameplay
  • Join robust alliances to conquer the PvP battlefield

League of War: Mercenaries Official Website

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League Of War Mercenaries Launch Trailer

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Fun With Munkys

Having a great time working as a Technical designer at my new company MunkyFun. Nothing to announce just yet but everyone here is really motivated to launch our next product. Stay tuned!


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Call of Duty: AW Multiplayer

Although I’ve already moved on to start my new position with Hammer & Chisel, you can see all my work in the new Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare multi-player reveal!

While my role was primarily in the systems design and gameplay, kudos to the whole multi-player team including our talented artists, map designers, engineers, producers, quality analysts and leads.

I know it will be a hit!

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