P.A. native helps develop fan-funded wrestling video game

Alex Di Pietro
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Dave Wishnowski has been a fan of pro wrestling ever since he was a kid. 

A screen shot of Pro Wrestling X

Today, the 41-year-old is the founder and producer of Pro Wrestling X, a wrestling game that he hopes will have upward of 800 playable characters by the time it’s completed.

“We know that our numbers are going to be so high if we’re successful, we’re pretty comfortable that we’ll have at least the wrestling game (world) record (for most playable characters),” Wishnowski said.

Tired of playing more commercial games released by companies such as the WWE and WCW, Wishnowski set out on creating a pro-wrestling video game that would be free of limitations in 2002.

“Someone dared me to make my own wrestling game because I was complaining about all of the ones out at the time,” he said.

The emphasis for the game, which has been in development for the last two years, is to re-capture the simplicity of pro-wrestling games that were released for Nintendo 64, a peak era according to Wishnowski.

“As it progressed, things got more and more complicated at the expense of that simple and fun experience,” he said. “If you play an Xbox wrestling game right now, you pretty much need a cheat sheet or manual taped to your coffee table in front of you to play it.”

As well, Wishnowski intends on creating a game with the least amount of restrictions as possible, namely when it comes to selecting characters for different types of matches.

“Compared to WWE games, because they use a WWE licence, they therefore have a lot of restrictions and limitations put on them — things they can’t do in the game, because the licence sort of forbids it,” Wishnowski said.

“Our game opens it right up,” he continued. “If you like to create female wrestlers who get in the ring and beat the living hell out of male wrestlers, you can do that.

“(Also,) WWE games are all about the big arenas with the fireworks and laser shows when the wrestlers enter,” Wishnowski said. “Our game has some other cooler stuff — humble little warehouse arenas, venues and gyms and things like that.

“They kind of resemble the wrestling shows you might have attended or the Stampede Wrestler shows when they toured the Prairies and whatnot. These are the places you’d go and see it.”

When asked whether he and his team have placed emphasis on the game’s graphics, Wishnowski said his philosophy consists of a three-part strategy.

“First you make it work, then you make it work really well, then you make it pretty,” he said. “(The game’s) got a retro feel in the graphics.”

Funding for Pro Wrestling X is currently being accrued through crowdfunding service Kickstarter.com, where more than 300 backers have contributed about $15,000 in support.

Just recently, the rewards tiers for those who donate to the creation of Pro Wrestling X were updated. Anyone who donates $50 will either place a character creation or himself into the game as a playable character.

Wishnowski is confident that his target of $75,000 will be reached, even though two-thirds of the time allotted for the 30-day funding campaign has elapsed.

“It’s going to be a nailbiter,” he said. “History has shown that these types of Kickstarter campaigns — the successful ones — always, always ramp up in the last few days.”

If there is a significant surge in funding but the target isn’t reached, there are a few alternatives, according to Wishnowski.

“Our options are to simply re-evaluate, run another Kickstarter campaign, see what we can do with a lower amount of money if that’s feasible, or we can simply not do that at all,” he said.

If completed, the game will be available on PC and for purchase by the public via prowrestlingx.com. Currently, the game’s pre-order price is about $10, with the final price expected to be less than $20.


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