From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Company typePrivate
IndustryVideo games
FounderEric Zimmerman
Peter Seung-Taek Lee
Defunct2009 (assets acquired by Arkadium)
Key people
Eric Zimmerman (co-founder, chief executive)
Peter Seung-Taek Lee (co-founder, president)
Frank Lantz (director of game design)
Nicholas Fortugno (director of game design)
Katie Salen
Number of employees

Gamelab was an independent game studio in New York City, New York founded by game designer Eric Zimmerman and Peter Seung-Taek Lee in 2000. It is best known for creating Diner Dash, one of the most downloaded games of all time (over half a billion times across multiple platforms in its first six years),[2] as well as its two spin-off companies, the non-profit Institute of Play and the online game and community site Gamestar Mechanic.


Zimmerman and Lee (with audio by Michael Sweet) created a game called BLiX, which was named a Finalist (and eventually won Best Audio) at the 2000 Independent Games Festival[3] at the Game Developers Conference, Zimmerman and Lee then incorporated gameLab and used an advance on BLiX royalties from their exclusivity deal with to open an office in downtown Manhattan.[4] gameLab released 34 video games on multiple platforms between 2000 and 2009, published by companies like LEGO, HBO, PlayFirst, VH-1, and iWin, plus eight massively multiplayer social games created exclusively for and played at the yearly Game Developers Conference from 2001 to 2008.

In 2004, gameLab released the award-winning Diner Dash, a strategy and time management game published by PlayFirst,[5] then-director of game design Frank Lantz and students in his Big Games class (including gameLab employees Greg Trefry and Mattia Romeo) at New York University's Interactive Telecommunications Program created Pac-Manhattan, a real life version of Pac-Man played in the streets surrounding NYU, which was one of the earliest and most influential pervasive games, covered by the New York Times[6] and receiving worldwide press.[7] In 2005, gameLab employees Trefry, Romeo, Nicholas Fortugno, and Catherine Herdlick plus co-founder Lee co-founded Come Out & Play, an annual festival of new original big games played in the streets of New York City,[8] Lantz left to co-found the game studio area/code, which was acquired by Zynga in 2011 and became Zynga New York, and is now the director of New York University's Game Center.[9]

In 2007, gameLab spun off the non-profit Institute of Play to promote game design and play as educational tools for students. Within six months of its founding, Institute of Play received a grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to develop Quest to Learn, a New York City public school designed around game design principles.[10] In 2009, supported by another grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, gameLab partnered with Katie Salen and released the award-winning game and community site Gamestar Mechanic. gameLab closed in 2009 and sold its assets to Arkadium.[11]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Type Publisher/Financer
2000 BLiX web gameLab
2001 FLUID touchscreen installation Swiss Re Center for Global Dialog
2001 Junkbot web LEGO
2001 LEGO Stack-It web LEGO
2001 LOOP web
2002 BLiX Level Constructor Kit web gameLab
2002 Drome Racing Challenge web LEGO
2002 Junkbot Undercover web LEGO
2002 LEGO World Builder web LEGO
2002 Spybotics: The Nightfall Incident web LEGO
2003 Arcadia PC/web gameLab
2003 Crash web gameLab
2003 FATE: The Carnivale Game web HBO
2003 LEGO Inventor web LEGO
2003 LEGO World Builder 2 web LEGO
2003 Motobike Blast web LEGO
2004 LEGO X-Pod Playoff board game LEGO
2004 Mighty Beanz Trading Card Game collectible card game Genio
2004 Subway Scramble PC/web PlayFirst
2005 Arcadia Remix PC/web gameLab
2005 Diner Dash PC/web PlayFirst
2005 LEGO X-Pod Playoff 2 board game LEGO
2005 Shopmania PC/web iWin
2006 Ayiti: The Cost of Life web gameLab/Global Kids
2006 Downbeat web VH-1
2006 Egg vs Chicken PC/web PlayFirst
2006 LEGO Fever PC/web LEGO
2006 Miss Management PC/web gameLab
2006 Plantasia PC/web PlayFirst
2007 Jojo's Fashion Show PC/web iWin
2007 Out of Your Mind PC/web gameLab/Curious Pictures
2008 Jojo's Fashion Show 2: Las Cruces PC/web iWin
2008 Top Chef PC/web Brighter Minds Media
2009 Gamestar Mechanic web gameLab

Massively Multiplayer Social Games at GDC[edit]

Year Title
2002 Bite Me
2002 Leviathan
2003 Alphabet City
2004 Supercollider
2005 ConfQuest
2006 Pantheon
2007 Gangs of GDC
2008 Destroy All Developers


  1. ^ "Creators".
  2. ^ "With Diner Dash, PlayFirst has a game that goes everywhere". 21 September 2010.
  3. ^ "The 12th Annual Independent Games Festival - 2000 Finalists & Winners". Archived from the original on 2010-02-10. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
  4. ^ "A Man for All Seasons: GameLab's Eric Zimmerman Talks Design, Trends". 16 June 2005.
  5. ^ Marriott, Michel (27 June 2005). "On Screens, but Not Store Shelves: Casual Games". The New York Times.
  6. ^ John, Warren St (9 May 2004). "Quick, After Him: Pac-Man Went Thataway". The New York Times.
  7. ^ "Pac Manhattan".
  8. ^ "Report: Come Out and Play -- Inside New York's Outdoor Game Festival".
  9. ^ "People".
  10. ^ "Institute of Play at the Connected Learning Alliance" (PDF).
  11. ^