Spotlight: Wil Johnson

Senior+Wil+Johnson+works+on+coding+%22Escape+Room+2%22.+Johnson+spent+two+years+creating+the+original+Escape+Room+and+has+spent+nine+months+so+far+creating+its+sequel.

Anna Johnson

Senior Wil Johnson works on coding “Escape Room 2”. Johnson spent two years creating the original Escape Room and has spent nine months so far creating its sequel.

Evan McHenry

You’ve probably heard of Roblox; known for its blocky avatars and vast array of user-created content, the computer game has gained popularity gradually over the past decade and is now played by around 100 million active users. However, you may not have heard that Seabury’s own senior Wil Johnson has been massively successful on this online platform. 

“We’re about to hit 60 million plays worldwide,” says Johnson, regarding his most successful project on Roblox, titled “Escape Room.” The project is essentially a puzzle game within the larger platform of Roblox. “Trapped in a room, with nothing but puzzles as far as the eye can see!” is the description on the game’s webpage. In the game itself, the player attempts to solve puzzles across various levels–some levels will have the player traverse an enchanted forest, others will have them explore a spooky mansion–all in the search of clues to solve said puzzles. 

“The first version of the game was made by just me and my sister, in three days over spring break,” says Johnson. “We didn’t really expect it to do insanely well. It was just kind of a fun side-project. But in the first week, it got 60,000 plays.” Since then, Johnson (known by moniker DevUltra online) has expanded his team, and now he is the head of an official game development business, Generation 7 Studios.“I program the games, and I’ve hired musicians, composers, 3D artists, 2D artists, people from around the world to work and come together and create these video game projects,” Johnson says. 

 In addition to popularity among Roblox players, the game has garnered attention from some big names: “We’ve been sponsored by Disney, Nickelodeon, Warner Brothers, Marvel,” Johnson says. According to him, Disney reached out to him in the fall of his 10th-grade year to advertise the then-upcoming movie, Coco: “It was great to get to work with them, because we kind of got a glimpse of the movie ahead of time. Everything was under contract, so we couldn’t talk about it until after the movie was released.”

In his time developing games for Roblox, Johnson has learned plenty. “The nice thing about Roblox is that it’s not just isolated to the Roblox platform,” Johnson says. “The experience I gained there as a programmer is actually applicable to almost any other game-development software you could choose.” Despite his success in the industry so far, however, Johnson does not wish to pursue game design as a career. “[Game development] is really fun, don’t get me wrong, but in college, I plan to pursue computer science,” he says. He is interested in applying computer science to other areas: “Right now, I’m really interested in neuroscience and genetics, but that could change by the time I get into college. I don’t really have any set plans for the future, but computers are definitely going to be an important part.”