Human InterestThe Northern Westchester Examiner

Somers Resident Develops, Launches Debut Video Game into Market

News Based on facts, either observed and verified directly by the reporter, or reported and verified from knowledgeable sources.

We are part of The Trust Project

 By Seamus Higgins

Somers resident Nico Papalia created his first video game and had it released last month.

After toiling for four years, the fruits of Nico Papalia’s labors are finally paying off.

On May 14, a new video game, Athenian Rhapsody, which was developed by the Somers resident, was released to all platforms (iOs, Android, Switch, Xbox Series X, Xbox One, PC, PS4 and PS5).

Described as Earthbound meets Pokemon, Athenian Rhapsody is a role-playing game in which the player is tasked with traveling through the world of Athens by defeating enemies in battle. Since its release, it has sold about 10,000 copies.

Papalia, 24, who started production of Athenian Rhapsody during the pandemic, included a choose-your-adventure component and strong comedic elements with the game’s characters.

Like most youngsters his age, Papalia loved playing video games throughout his childhood.

“I had the Gameboy advance growing up, and me and my cousins, before we could read were playing Pokemon,” said Papalia, who graduated from SUNY Oneonta with a bachelor’s degree in digital and studio art.

In addition to Papalia being Athenian Rhapsody’s developer, he has a publishing team and used social media to help raise money to fund his game on KickStarter with 234 backers. He was able to raise $7,004, although it cost about $25,000 throughout its production for Papalia and his publisher, Top Hat Studios.

Papalia praised his former college professors who helped him hone his marketing and graphic design skills that have come in handy to develop the game.

Papalia had never thought of creating video games as a career possibility.

“One of my aunts said to me in high school it (would) be cool to make video games; I was like, whatever,” Papalia said. “I was always into art and was originally going into more traditional art, and video games weren’t a thing until I got into it more. It’s an industry that seems inaccessible even today. You don’t see the process that goes into it, especially back then.”

Papalia typically gravitated to handheld games such as Nintendo DS/Gameboy Advance. He even made his game the resolution of the Gameboy Advance.

“Mobile wasn’t a thought for me originally,” Papalia said. “I had the handheld-style idea in mind. A lot of these decisions was playing off the nostalgia with the bulk of my gaming experience as a kid, which drove me to make more of the creative decisions in the game.”

Papalia said he eventually he wants to make another game, but for now his focus is on marketing Athenian Rhapsody and adding more content.

He said he would love to see more video game events, businesses and game developers in Westchester County, and encourages anyone interested in game development to pursue it and seek to learn as much as possible.

“Nowadays, kids are more aware of video games as a career,” Papalia said.

We'd love for you to support our work by joining as a free, partial access subscriber, or by registering as a full access member. Members get full access to all of our content, and receive a variety of bonus perks like free show tickets. Learn more here.