The world of gaming has changed a lot over the past ten years. Beyond the obvious improvements in graphics, the smarter AIs, and the sleeker tech, much bigger shifts have occurred – the industry is targeting new markets, experimenting with new approaches in game development and funding, and seeking out new types of in-game narrative in order to give seasoned players something fresh. It’s moving out of the geek niche and into the mainstream. Much of that progress has depended on the efforts of a small number of people.
Best known for his work on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita, Mark is a real all-rounder who has also worked as a game designer and handled the production and business end of things. Celebrated in the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) Hall of Fame, he’s also the holder of an International Game Developers Association (IGDA) Lifetime Achievement Award, and not without good reason. He’s the creator of Marble Madness and was a key developer on Crash Bandicoot and Sonic the Hedgehog 2, but it’s really his influence over hardware that has reshaped the gaming landscape, changing the way we connect with games physically.
Consistently described as one of the most influential women in gaming, Siobhan was also named Australian Woman of the Year in 2013 and has been particularly important because of her ability to promote the industry within wider society. A natural in front of the camera, her numerous media appearances have helped make gaming seem accessible and intriguing to people who had never thought of trying it before. She’s the brains behind the soaraway success of LittleBigPlanet, and her company, Media Molecule, has recently returned to the fore with Tearaway, again benefiting from her instinct for cross-platform innovation.
Even as a college kid, Bobby Kotick was making an impact with his game design – to the point where Steve Jobs advised him to drop out and pursue his passion. What really excited him was bridging the gap between what computers could do and what customers wanted – supporting the development of designs that the public could really connect with, and getting them out there. Finding his place in the industry through a series of shrewd investments, he went on to become President and CEO of Activision Blizzard. His ability to play hard in the big league while maintaining a clear vision of what he wants his company to be has enabled him to give it the big business weight that the games industry never really had in its own right before.
Markus “Notch” Persson
The man behind Minecraft, Notch has shown that even the little guys (figuratively speaking) can make a big impact when they have a strong enough creative idea. He’s now amassed over 100 million sales and has sold his company Mojang to Microsoft, becoming a billionaire in the process and retiring from the Minecraft community to start a new software company. What made Minecraft so different – and so successful, despite its lack of paid promotion – was that it went beyond the ordinary concept of a computer game in inviting players to use their own creativity. It’s this kind of out-of-the-box thinking – clearly the important part to Notch himself – that is enabling the gaming industry to conquer new ground.
It takes vision and a real passion for games to succeed in this industry. However, there are always new opportunities, and those with ideas, talent, and dedication can rise to the top, no matter where they come from. If you’d like to make your own contribution to the gaming world, why not give it a try?