If you’ve ever watched the credits after the end of a game, you know that it takes a heck of a lot of talented people working very long hours to craft the piece of art you just enjoyed. Before that can even take place, though, you need someone with drive and vision that can get a project off the ground and keep it going when it falters. That’s where the lead developer comes in, and a lot of your favorite games have been made or broken on the whims of these visionaries. Who are some of the most prolific designers in the industry? Read on the see who, in no particular order, we’re pledging eternal obeisance to.
If there’s one man in the game industry known for his style, quirky sense of humor and his ability to create memorable characters, it is Hideo Kojima. Famous throughout the world for his unique creations, none have stuck with the gaming public quite as well as the Metal Gear Solid series. For over twenty years, Kojima has kept players enthralled with the special operations antics of all-around bad-ass Solid Snake and his friend and enemies. In addition to being full of great characters, the MGS franchise is known for a complicated plot that can rival LOST, and for pushing the technological boundaries of every console it has appeared on. Without Hideo Kojima, the way that video game stories are told today would be very different.
Probably the only person on this list who needs no introduction, Shigeru Miyamoto is the head honcho at Nintendo and the father of all of the company’s memorable heroes. Besides that, he’s helped change gaming’s public perception with the incredibly popular GameBoy and Wii platforms. Chances are that you know someone who owns at least one of these machines, and you have Mr. Miyamoto to thank for that. Whether or not you agree that motion control in the wave of the future, Shigeru Miyamoto is one of the keystones of gaming culture, and will be for many years to come.
Vincent Zampella and Jason West
People love rebels, and Vince Zampella and Jason West fit the bill perfectly. Originally employed at EA’s 2015 studios, they were tasked with churning out Medal of Honor sequels until the quit, took some of their colleagues with them, and started Infinity Ward. Months later, they were bought by Activision and went on to produce what some would claim as the greatest shooter series of all time. Call of Duty has shattered sales records time and time again, and these two were at the forefront until their unfortunate termination by Activision. Showing that life does has a sense of humor, Zampella and West formed Respawn Games, became part of the EA Partners Program, and have been poaching their former co-workers from IW right out from under Activison. The next game from this duo is eagerly awaited by fans around the world.
The First Person Shooter genre wouldn’t exist as we know it today if it weren’t for Jon Carmack. This guy invented several unique programming languages which resulted in Wolfenstein, DOOM and Quake, just to name a few. His gaming engines are still in use today, and he still heads up id Software, programming down in the trenches on his next game, the DOOM RPG. Jon Carmack may have even been the first person to use the infamous response of “when it’s done” to answer the common question of “when is the game coming out”? This guy is also incredibly smart; he owns an aerospace company, and taught himself the science of aerospace engineering. An uber-nerd for sure, but we owe a lot of our past time to him.
If you’ve played a game with the word “Sim” in the title, you’ve played a Will Wright game. His 1989 SimCity title is credited with helping kick off PC-gaming, and his continuing contributions have helped cement his products as a household name. Perhaps his most popular creation is “The Sims”, a life-simulation game where the player watches and manipulates the life of an on-screen family. The Sims has sold a ridiculous number of copies, over 100-million, making it the best selling franchise in history. Will Wright’s latest game, “Spore”, wasn’t as big of a success, but it helped to bring the plight of PC-piracy to light with its infamous Digital Rights Management scandal. For good or ill, Will Wright is one of the foremost authorities on PC gaming, but I think it’s safe to say that we are in some very capable hands.
Half-Life fan? If you are, then you owe all your praise to Gabe Newell, CEO of Valve Software and co-creator of the most critically acclaimed shooter franchise of all time. Besides making Half-Life, Newell has also gifted us with Team Fortress, Portal and Left 4 Dead, ensuring that the PC gaming faithful will always have something to play. Besides making great games, Gabe also gave the digital download industry a kick in the pants with Steam, a way of buying games for your PC without needing boxed copies. Steam numbers account for a very large portion of PC sales, and with the platform just being released on the Mac, you can expect the numbers to climb even higher. We thank Gabe for all that he’s done to keep downloading games a viable method of distribution, but can we please have a release date for Episode 3?
Honorable Mentions: Sid Meier, Peter Molyneux, Dennis Dydack, Jason Jones & Alex Seropian, Jade Raymond
Well, those are the top six developers who I think have helped shape gaming history. Agree or not, you have to admit that all these men have had a pronounced affect on our hobby, and generations later, gamers will still be whispering their names in awe.
Do you guys have any suggestions? What do you think of the listed developers?