Fullbright (company)

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The Fullbright Company, LLC
Fullbright (2014–present)
Industry Video game industry
Founded March 2012
Headquarters Portland, Oregon, U.S.
Products Gone Home
Number of employees
8 (2016)
Website fullbrig.ht

Fullbright is an American indie video game developer based in Portland, Oregon best known for their video game Gone Home. Before forming Fullbright, three of the staff worked together at 2K Marin in San Francisco on Minerva's Den, the single-player expansion to BioShock 2. During the development of Gone Home, the team worked and lived together in the same house.[1] After its release, one team member left to found a new studio, Dim Bulb Games. Fullbright's next game, Tacoma, was released in August 2017.


Minerva's Den and founding[edit]

Picture of Steve Gaynor

The Fullbright Company was formed by Steve Gaynor, Johnnemann Nordhagen, and Karla Zimonja in March 2012.[2] Kate Craig, an environment artist, joined the Company full-time in August 2012.[2] They had previously worked together at other video game developers but "were attracted to the artistic liberty and self-management of a small game studio", with the freedoms of working without rigid schedules and relationships.[1] They live and work together in a northeast Portland, Oregon, house known as the Fullbright House.[1] (Craig, the 3D artist, works remotely from Vancouver.) Craig likened the group to "being in a band" due to their closeness partially necessitated by lack of money, such as in sharing flights and lodging.[1]

Steve Gaynor attended Portland State and dabbled in several arts fields before using level design to enter the games industry. He made levels for first-person shooter video game F.E.A.R. on his own, and entered Sony in San Francisco as a games tester in 2006. His experience with F.E.A.R. levels brought him to Houston's TimeGate Studios, at work on the low-pressure F.E.A.R. expansion Perseus Mandate. He joined 2K Marin in 2008 after receiving encouragement from the BioShock 2 creative director to apply. Gaynor was the lead designer on the game's single-player expansion Minerva's Den in 2010. The Minerva team was small, and included Zimonja and Nordhagen. Zimonja was their 2D artist and collaborated on the game's story with Gaynor, though she saw herself more as an editor than a writer. Gaynor left 2K for Irrational Games in 2011 to work on BioShock Infinite. Though the two wanted to collaborate, they were now split between Boston and San Francisco, where Zimonja continued at 2K on The Bureau: XCOM Declassified. Unsatisfied with big budget work, Gaynor and his wife moved to Portland, where they both wanted to live, and Gaynor sought to make a "personal game, one with an intimate narrative" without soliciting outside money or growing larger than a small team. As Gaynor and Zimonja lacked computer programming expertise, they reached out to Nordhagen, who had recently sent an "existentially introspective" tweet about his career. Together, they formed The Fullbright Company.[1]

Gone Home[edit]

Fullbright at GDC 2014

Gone Home is a video game that features a female protagonist. It included support for controllers, which Polygon credited to the team's experience on AAA first-person shooters. In its first weeks following release, Gone Home was a top seller on Steam and covered in The New York Times.[3] It won "Best Debut" at the 2014 BAFTA Game Awards[4] and 2014 Game Developers Choice Awards,[5][a] and Polygon's 2013 game of the year.[6] Its release begat discussions about narrative and gameplay in video games, for the game's focus on empathic story and lack of gun-based gameplay.[3]

The Fullbright Company partnered with indie publisher Midnight City to produce a video game console port of Gone Home. Fullbright originally built the game for personal computers so as to not worry about the design limitations and optimizations necessary for a console release. Wanting to move on to their next game, the company sought out a publisher to do the porting work for them.[3] Following release, Nordhagen left to found his own studio, Dim Bulb Games, in June 2014.[7] The Fullbright Company rebranded itself as Fullbright two months later, on August 4, 2014, and wrote that its continued focus would be on "immersive, unforgettable story exploration video games".[8][9]

Chris Plante of Polygon cited Fullbright as an example of "smaller, independently owned studios" whose games show signs of social progress in the video game medium.[3]


Fullbright announced their next game, Tacoma, at The Game Awards in December 2014. The brief trailer featured a radio dialogue between a man and a woman, set in the Lunar Transfer Station Tacoma 200,000 miles from Earth. Polygon noted that its aesthetic was similar to Rapture, the underwater city of BioShock. Tacoma was released on August 2, 2017 on PC and Xbox One.[6]



  1. ^ Gone Home also received nominations for the BAFTA's "Best Story"[4] and the GDC Awards' "Game of the Year", "Innovation Award", "Best Narrative", and "Best Downloadable Game".[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e Mahardy, Mike (August 13, 2013). "Meet Me in Portland: The Fullbright Company's Journey Home". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved December 6, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "About The Fullbright Company". The Fullbright Company. 
  3. ^ a b c d Tach, Dave (March 11, 2014). "Why Double Fine and Fullbright teamed up with Midnight City". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved December 6, 2014. 
  4. ^ a b Savage, Phil (March 12, 2014). "Papers, Please and Gone Home take BAFTA Awards, Houser brothers make rare appearance for Rockstar's". PC Gamer. Future Publishing. Retrieved December 6, 2014. 
  5. ^ a b Aziz, Hamza (March 19, 2014). "GDC Awards led by The Last of Us, Papers, Please". Destructoid. Game Revolution. Retrieved December 6, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Hall, Charlie (December 5, 2014). "Tacoma is the next game from Gone Home developer Fullbright". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved December 6, 2014. 
  7. ^ Pitcher, Jenna (June 19, 2014). "Gone Home developer establishes new studio to explore the outer edges of games". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved December 6, 2014. 
  8. ^ "Introducing Fullbright". The Fullbright Company. August 4, 2014. Retrieved October 5, 2015. 
  9. ^ McElroy, Griffin (August 4, 2014). "Gone Home developer rebrands and expands". Polygon. Vox Media. Retrieved December 6, 2014. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Fullbright at Wikimedia Commons