In late June, a few days before the splashiest release of his career as a video game developer, Ryan Payton ’03 sits alone in his company’s sprawling loft-like space in downtown Bellevue, Wash., marveling at the silence. When I ask Payton to give me a virtual tour of the offices of Camouflaj, the company he founded nearly a decade ago, he confesses that there’s not much to show at the moment. The coronavirus pandemic forced nearly all of his 50-plus employees to start working remotely several months earlier, just as they were putting the final touches on Marvel’s Iron Man VR, a video game for Sony’s PlayStation VR device that has consumed his company’s energy for the past four years. 

Normally, it’s not like this at all. Normally, the office is a hive of energy and noise, a frenetic atmosphere full of programmers and developers and designers shouting ideas back and forth. There is a “review room,” where Payton would stand in the middle and test the game on a PlayStation VR headset, calling out tweaks and encouraging his employees, sitting in couches and chairs, to shout suggestions, as well.