16: Cary Walkin

Excel, Games, Creativity and Marketing

Cary Walkin is developer of the role-playing game Arena.xlsm. It’s built completely in Excel and regularly shows up as an example of extreme uses of a tool that’s known for number-crunching.

This episode is a brilliant opportunity to hear about the experience of developing something out of curiosity, having it take on a life of its own, and then being strategic in the business and marketing of the final product.

Cary is a rare person who has successfully gone the full distance with a product. Many of us have an idea that never shows up in real life. There are talented marketers who would never be able to develop a product on their own. That’s not a criticism, it’s just a reality that we all have our strengths, and there are areas where we need help. Cary received help and gave a shout out to his marketing professor, Markus Geissler as someone who writes about introducing products into the technology space. Through Markus, Cary learned the importance of creating a narrative that articulates the need for a product, the “if you build it that will come” strategy is not a strategy.

I did not release the game with the intention to monetize it. I released it with the intention to gain notoriety so that I could enter the games industry.

My goal was to ensure that the game got into the hands of as many people as possible so that my name would be out there.


  • GET SOMETHING DONE! As advice to people wanting to get into the gaming industry, Cary warns that grandiose games might be fun to play but are extremely difficult to build. A developer needs the stamina and interest to get the game done. Showing the industry your skill and ability to complete a project is as important as people wanting to play your game.
  •  Excel as part of the game development process. Cary explains that as a prototyping tool, Excel definitely has a place in the process of game development. Building in Excel is fast and easy. There isn’t a lot of back-end to worry about. This can free up a developer to think about the front-end, the user experience, getting the game to work, and exploring “what if …?”
  • No one gets rich developing games in Excel.

To see a review and Arena.xlsm in action check out this YouTube video: Indie Quick Look – Arena.xlsm

Where to find Cary:

Cary’s blog: VBA4Play
At Facebook: Arena.Xlsm

What to do next:

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Arena.xlsm, Cary Walkin, Carywalkin.ca, ExcelTV, Game development, Games, Games in Excel, Indie Quick Look, Markus Geissler

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