The video game industry is one full of unsung heroes. Behind all the glorious pixels and innovative ideas are creators, developers, programmers and writers who often go unnoticed, and while some people may know the names, many are oblivious to the influence that they’ve had on the industry and their beloved hobby. So here are 5 people who have shaped the way in which you play games today.
The name ‘Kojima’ should immediately ring bells, as Hideo Kojima fronts up one of the biggest video game development houses in the world, Kojima Productions. Previously vice-president at Konami Computer Entertainment, Kojima is the mind behind the acclaimed Metal Gear series – he designed, wrote, directed and produced every primary addition into the franchise.
Kojima epitomizes the word ‘creativity’ with a seemingly limitless imagination (just see MGS 4’s smoking monkey) and has won the first Lifetime Achievement Award from MTV’s Game Awards and sits at number 6 on IGN’s Top 100 Game Creators of All Time list.
While he doesn’t like being called ‘Cliffy B’, the Epic Games design director has been given a number of other nicknames, such as ‘Dude Huge’. While he may not be able to shake the aliases, Bleszinski can’t shake his famed reputation and influence on the industry.
After gaining popularity due to his work on Jazz Jackrabbit in the mid-90’s, Cliff went on to design a series which has had a pivotal impact on the modern gaming world – Gears of War. The game was a fan-favourite from day one on the Xbox 360 and delivered gruesome chainsaw deaths, interesting settings and smooth third-person cover mechanics that everyone is still trying to emulate to this day.
The Mikami name may not be overly recognisable, but his influence is. Shinji Mikami is the man behind the creations and design of arguably the most important horror series ever created, Resident Evil. The 46 year-old also contributed to the action genre with his work on Devil May Cry, which was created by accident when designing a follow-up in the Resident Evil series.
While his impact on the industry is immeasurable, his biggest contribution to games came in designing Resident Evil 4, where his guidance resulted in the ‘over-the-shoulder’ and ‘precision-aim’ breakthroughs within the third-person genre; a convention which has been used by everything from Gears of War to Batman: Arkham Asylum.
You should know of Peter Molyneux, but not always for the right reasons. Peter Molyneux became famous for his work on ‘god games’ such as Dungeon Keeper, Populous and Black & White. The problem is, sometimes he thinks he is a god.
The AIAS Hall of Fame honouree has some definite talent, there’s no denying that; but he often tends to over-promise and under-deliver in every way imaginable. While his games always do well critically and commercially, they never seem to reach the heights Molyneux initially intends.
Some game developers and creators seem to be in it for the money; however Ken Levine is definitely not one of those people. The word ‘passionate’ comes to mind when speaking of Levine, as fans of the System Shock, Thief and Bioshock series can agree with.
Ken Levine has dedicated his creative talent to video games by building his own studio, Irrational Games, where he is currently working on Bioshock Infinite with his team. Levine is as hands-on with his projects as one can get and always delivers his visions with the utmost precision, as Game Informer named him as one of the “Storytellers of the Decade” and Time Magazine has considered him for their 100 most influential people list.
Which other notable industry names have we left off the list? Let us know in the comments below, and on the MyGaming forum.