Get­ting Dig­i­tal

Pres­i­dent and CEO of Blue Planet Soft­ware Maya Rogers ups her game.

HILuxury - - ON THE GO - by NI­COLE KATO

VIDEO GAMES AL­WAYS WERE A PART OF MAYA ROGERS' LIFE. SHE SPENT HER FOR­MA­TIVE YEARS IN JA­PAN at a time when Nin­tendo's Game Boy was mak­ing its break­through and video games started pop­ping up all over the place.

Add to that the fact that dad Henk Rogers ( known for his cat­a­pult­ing af­fil­i­a­tion with se­cur­ing the rights to Tetris and the es­tab­lish­ment of Blue Planet Soft­ware, the sole agent of the Tetris brand) brought home video game con­soles on the reg­u­lar, and it isn't hard to see why Rogers' fas­ci­na­tion with video games now has be­come her pas­sion.

“We grew up play­ing them,” she re­calls. “And Tetris was a big part of that.”

In her cur­rent ca­pac­ity as pres­i­dent and CEO with Blue Planet Soft­ware, Rogers fo­cuses most of her ef­forts on brand­ing and li­cens­ing. Cur­rently, the com­pany has any­where from 60 to 80 dif­fer­ent Tetris li­censees, rang­ing from elec­tronic games on mo­bile phones to gam­ing con­soles, as well as mer­chan­dis­ing items like T-shirts and coffee mugs.

“At the core of it, it's a great game,” she says of Tetris. “There's this in­her­ent need to cre­ate or­der out of chaos, stack­ing things and see­ing it clear in front of you. It's a game that any­one can play, and it's easy to play but hard to mas­ter.”

While li­cens­ing and brand­ing seem lightyears away from the phys­i­cal­ity of the game she grew up with, her role with the com­pany is per­pet­u­at­ing it for gen­er­a­tions to come. But don't mis­un­der­stand, Rogers still is a Tetris mas­ter. “As I tell peo­ple, ‘I will kick your butt for sure,'” she adds. Rogers also is a co-found­ing part­ner— along with Henk and Chenoa Farnsworth—for ven­ture ac­cel­er­a­tor Blue Star­tups, which helps foster tech en­trepreneurs lo­cally, na­tion­ally and over­seas (ev­ery­where from Sin­ga­pore to Korea to Por­tu­gal). While peo­ple come from all over the world, 50 per­cent of par­tic­i­pat­ing com­pa­nies are lo­cal.

“We're try­ing to be an ex­am­ple for the state,” Rogers ex­plains. “It's a long-term vi­sion that we have for Hawai‘i to be a place that can com­pete with the rest of the world in terms of tal­ent and jobs.

“Be­ing able to have our fam­ily grow up in Hawai‘i was a big thing, and that's why we're based in Hawai‘i.”

Twice a year, tech com­pa­nies and their lead­ers head to Hawai‘i for 14 weeks to take part in Blue Star­tups full-time men­tor­ship pro­gram, and since its in­cep­tion in May 2012, Blue Star­tups has in­vested in more than 60 scal­able tech com­pa­nies.

Rogers' foray into the video game trade and tech in­dus­try stems from see­ing the pas­sion her par­ents (Henk and Akemi) lived. Her up­bring­ing was in­stru­men­tal in forg­ing her own path, which she did soon af­ter grad­u­at­ing from Pep­per­dine Uni­ver­sity in 2000.

Af­ter a stint as a lo­gis­tics an­a­lyst for Amer­i­can Honda in the early 2000s, her path took a turn to­ward the in­dus­try she's be­come so well-known for. She joined Sony Com­puter En­ter­tain­ment Amer­ica in 2003 as a lo­cal­iza­tion pro­ducer and re­calls work­ing on a racing game on the project man­age­ment side of the ef­fort.

“I went from real cars to vir­tual cars,” she adds.

She also set aside time to fur­ther her ed­u­ca­tion, earn­ing her ex­ec­u­tive MBA from Pep­per­dine Uni­ver­sity, The Ge­orge L. Grazia­dio School of Busi­ness and Man­age­ment in 2009.

The years dur­ing and af­ter col­lege saw Rogers add ar­se­nal to her tool belt, as she al­ways felt she would one day be a part of Blue Planet Soft­ware in one ca­pac­ity or an­other.

Since her ap­point­ment to head of the com­pany, she has been forg­ing new paths to take it and the Tetris brand to higher lev­els.

The fu­ture, it seems, is look­ing up. The com­pany just launched a ti­tle on Nin­tendo Switch and ran a suc­cess­ful col­lab­o­ra­tion cam­paign with Tar­get. And, in ad­di­tion to pan­ning out de­tails on a fea­ture film (which for now is be­ing kept un­der wraps), the com­pany is look­ing for­ward to Sci­en­tific Games Cor­po­ra­tion's Tetris Su­per Jack­pots, which hope­fully will hit casino floors this year.

With the cul­mi­na­tion of such big projects—and with new ones in the works—it's also the per­fect time for Rogers to re­flect on her jour­ney thus far.

“I think we're at a time and age to­day where you can work from any­where in the world be­cause we're vir­tu­ally con­nected,” she says. “I travel a lot [ for work], but I'm re­ally grate­ful we're able to be based here in Hawai‘i. Hawai‘i is our home.” Visit blue­plan­et­soft­ware.com or blues­tar­tups. com for more in­for­ma­tion on the com­pa­nies, and to play a game of Tetris, visit tetris.com.

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