Behrend Speaker Series to feature Erie-based video-game creator

A portrait of Matthew White, CEO of Whitethorn Games

Matthew White, CEO of Erie-based Whitethorn Games, will visit Penn State Behrend on Feb. 21 as part of the college’s Speaker Series.

Credit: Photo provided

ERIE, Pa. — Matthew White, a former faculty member at Penn State Behrend, will discuss the evolution of Erie-based Whitethorn Games as part of Behrend's Speaker Series on Feb. 21. His talk, which begins at 5:30 p.m. in Room 180 of the Burke Center, is free and open to the public.

As a senior data analyst for Sony Interactive Entertainment, where he worked with developers of PlayStation games, White began to think seriously about a different approach to digital play.

“I wanted to aim at a more casual audience,” he told the Games Industry Biz blog. “I was looking more for slow, approachable experiences.”

White, who had previously taught game design at Penn State Behrend, returned to Erie and founded Whitethorn Games, a niche publishing company that has released more than 25 games, including a beekeeping simulator and an interactive cat café. It now employees 35 people, including an accessibility specialist.

White taught in the School of Engineering from 2012 to 2021. He also worked as an analyst and data scientist at Volition, providing analytics for the “Saints Row” franchise, before moving on to PlayStation. He founded Whitethorn Games in 2017.

Whitethorn specializes in quick-play, low-stress games. In “Lake,” players follow a letter-carrier as she interacts with the neighbors on her route. In “The Forest Cathedral,” by Behrend alumnus Brian Wilson, players must solve a series of 2D and 3D puzzles as they explore a remote island.

The games are family-friendly. The storylines are generally positive — an effort, White said, to engage a different type of gamer.

“The thing that binds the ‘wholesome’ games together isn’t really the games and the genres,” he told Games Industry Biz. “It’s that the audience is palpably different. I think the fact that this is a trend that’s led by — and is for — people who are not the way the games industry has historically looked is more important than any conversation about ‘wholesome’ versus ‘non-wholesome.’”

As part of Behrend’s 75th anniversary celebration, this year’s Speaker Series is showcasing Behrend alumni and others with connections to the college. Previous talks featured Jeremy O’Mard, a senior managing consultant at IBM Consulting, and Ainslie Brosig, executive director of the ExpERIEnce Children’s Museum.

White’s talk at Behrend is sponsored by the School of Engineering. The Speaker Series also is supported by the Division of Student Affairs and the Harriet Behrend Ninow Memorial Lecture Series Fund. To learn more about this year’s series, visit