It’s generally not a problem when the IT manager/webmaster/telecommunications adviser for Oakes Management needs an afternoon off to attend to a personal project - provided, of course, the office systems are running smoothly and he’s done all his homework.
Not to worry. At 15 years old, Hawi resident Tiger Oakes has already learned to make the most of his time. In addition, to working at his parents’ resort residence construction and management business and attending online classes at Myron B. Thompson Academy, Oakes is a budding high-tech entrepreneur.
Just this year, Oakes’ first go at a mobile application, a multilevel puzzle game called BitBall - found a place on the virtual shelf next to Angry Birds and Solitaire in the Android marketplace. Oakes is collaborating with friends to develop a detective game.
“I try to come up with ideas that are unique,” Oakes says after a thoughtful pause. “There are a lot of games out there, and it doesn’t make sense to repeat what is already available.”
To be sure, Oakes is as much a savvy businessman as he is a precocious technical talent, as much as Jobs as a Wozniak.
Oakes says he’s been fascinated by computers since he was a toddler. From the beginning his interest went far deeper than the dancing pixels on the screen.
“I was hooked,” Oakes said. “As I got older I wanted to start creating content.”
Oakes used to hang out at a computer recycling center where a friend would pass along still-usable parts from which Oakes would construct his own computers.
At Thompson Academy, Oakes found a ideal environment in which to develop his interests, working closely with teacher Derrick Lord to learn programming and to eventually design his own projects.
A self-described nerd, Oakes is hardly one-dimensional. He enjoys computer games, yes, but he also enjoys cycling and playing golf. He is an avid reader and a two-time finalist in the annual Hawaii Botball Robotics competition.
Tall and lanky, with a careful, measured manner of speaking broken by the occasional self-conscious smile, Oakes on a summer visit to the school’s new home in downtown Honolulu seems frozen in the moment before adulthood and what it promises for him.
He talks about college and the potential connections he could make there. He speaks intelligently about mobile apps as economic driver. But he also talks about the fun of biking around the small Big Island town where he lives and how cool the “Hunger Games” movie was.
He is still a kid, after all. And there is no app for that.