Fathers of the U.S. Gaming Industry 2001: Who's your daddy!
While almost every other site out there closes to celebrate on July 4th, the members of Gaming Target remain at work and taking time out to bring you a special feature relating to this holiday. In addition to regular updates, we are here to deliver a feature commemorating the Fathers that have shaped, and still mold the face of the gaming industry in the United States today. Check out the several profiles of many of the industry leaders who have worked to bring, and continue the experience of gaming entertainment in America.
| Bernie Stolar|
I think this once President and COO of Sega of America and Executive Vice President of SCEA, doesn't get the respect he deserves. The man is a genius in the field of launching a gaming console. He was one of the masterminds behind the most successful systems in history, the Playstation. So how did Sony repay him for is hard work? They fired him right before the consoles launch. Stolar went on to become the driving force behind, in my opinion, the best console ever conceived, the Sega Dreamcast. Bernie was the one man who pushed for each system to include a 56k modem out of the box, so everyone who bought a Dreamcast was forced to have access to the Internet, without having to purchase an extra piece of hardware. Once again, Bernie was fired right before the system launched. You'd think they'd at least let him enjoy his accomplishments and success.
| Claude Comair|
Though currently running the first-party studio within Nintendo of America, Nintendo Software Technology Corporation (NSTC), Comair also founded and became president of Digipen School of Technology. This college was setup in 1988 to educate students on creating games and many graduates still go onto working for such Nintendo development studios and NSTC. With two schools setup, one in Seattle, and another in British Columbia, Comair has aided the learning process, ensuring quality games from the school's alumni.
One might suspect for him for another Crane brother from the show Fraiser, but David is actually co-founded Activision in 1979 after programming for Atari. He created many of the early titles that instantly became classics, such as Pitfall, Ghostbusters, and A boy and His Blob during his days at Activision. Crane then left and became co-founder and Chief Technology Officer of Skyworks Technologies.
| Dan Kramer|
Kramer designed the Trak-ball Controller while working with Atari within his first year at the company. Though his work would help mold the facing of gaming controllers in the future, Atari went under in 1984, and Kramer went his own way, later becoming part of Nyko. There, he now creates more innovative hardware for all the current consoles.
| David Perry |
David Perry has worked himself up through the ranks to be one of the most revered and hardworking men in the video game industry. Early in his career Perry met great success in England developing games such as Smash TV and Savage. He then decided to test out his skills in the US with Virgin software. Here he developed such games on the Sega Genesis such as Cool Spot, Aladdin, and Global Gladiators. After the great success of these games, especially Aladdin, Perry set off to create his own studio, Shiny Entertainment. Shiny established its creative and innovative nature with its first game, Earthworm Jim. Earthworm Jim became an overnight success and placed Shiny on the map as one of the premier developers of the future.
Following the success of Earthworm Jim and its sequel, Perry ventured off to see if he could tackle the PC industry with a very unique game known as MDK. MDK was praised by reviewers and gamers alike and quickly became one of the most successful PC games ever. MDK proved that games could not only be innovative, but fun as well. Shiny produced a few more console games, of which the most popular was Wild 9 on the PSX. Recently Shiny produced such innovative games as Messiah and the incredibly successful and award-winning Sacrifice both on the PC. Shiny has established itself as one of the most innovative developers on the market and they plan to continue to reward gamers with their amazingly entertaining and groundbreaking games in the future.
| Greg Thomas|
The one thing I can say about Greg Thomas is, the man knows his sports. As President of Visual Concepts, his company is responsible for rejuvenating the once mighty Sega Sports brand name by themselves. It's even gotten to the point where Sega Sports titles are as of the same caliber as EA's sports franchises, if not higher in some respects. This all happened in a matter of three years folks, which is an astounding accomplishment if you think about it. He will go down in history as the man who launched a whole new generation of Sega Sports titles, especially since Sega has gone multi-platform, as a broader audience of gamers will get to experience the games.
| Howard Lincoln|
While working for a law firm, which defended the Nintendo case that threatened the company with copyright infringements the King Kong properties, Howard Lincoln was hired as senior VP of Nintendo of America. Along with Minoru Arakawa, he helped introduce and support Nintendo consoles to the United States, from the original NES down to line. Though still a bit active in the gaming industry, you won't be seeing his name as often anymore, as Mr. Lincoln has been retired since February of last year, moving onto a position at the Seattle Mariners, a baseball team owned by Nintendo.
| John Carmack|
What would gaming be without this guy? Carmack is the man responsible for all the parents' complaints that games are too violent. In May of 1992 he released a little game known as Wolfenstein 3D and introduced us to the world of the first-person shooter. This game captivated audiences and they demanded more. December 1993, Carmack and his team at id software released a game that has revolutionized the world of gaming, that game was Doom. Doom immersed the gamer in a world of fear and violence that was never before witnessed in a game and once again the public couldn't get enough. The sequel was released the following year and parents started to take notice of the obsessive amounts of gore placed in these games.
By now Carmack had already established himself as a force in the gaming world when he released Quake in 1997. Quake introduced full 3D immersion into the world of gaming and gave the player a full range of motion to admire and examine the world brought to him on his desktop. In December of 1997 Quake 2 was released and it had turned into the gamers playground. It introduced incredible graphics and easily allowed the gamers to alter the game world to their desire. People soon started developing there own Mods for Quake 2 and many other developers began to lease use of this engine for their own games they were going to develop. After 2 years of watching a community blossom around Quake 2 and its wildly popular multiplayer capabilities, Carmack released Quake 3 in late 1999 as a multiplayer only game and the community surrounding the quake series has grow tremendously large. Carmack is now overseeing the game Return to Castle Wolfenstein to make sure it adheres to the general concept introduced in Wolfenstein 3d about 9 years ago as well as developing Doom 3 for a future release.
| John Romero|
Romero quickly made his popularity while working at id software with John Carmack. While Carmack was mainly the head of id software Romero gained incredible popularity as one of the head designers for Wolfenstein as well as each of the Doom games. Later his popularity continued to increase through his work as the head designer of the tremendously successful Quake. After Quake was finally finished Romero made a major career decision to leave the lucrative id software to head his own development studio know as Ion Storm. He gathered a team together to create the game of his dreams,(if only his dreams were better) Daikatana. Daikatana was hyped as the game that will not only revolutionize the first-person shooter genre, but gaming in general. After being delayed for close to 3 years, (the guys were too busy staring at Romero's wife, Stevie ?Killcreek? Case, who was on hand as a Daikatana level designer) Daikatana was finally released in May of 2000, but the game failed to live up to the hype. Romero continues to head the lavish and outspoken Ion Storm Dallas and lets just hope that his next piece of work is an improvement over Daikatana.
| Julian Eggebrecht|
Julian Eggebrecht and 4 programmers, artists, or musicians founded development studio Factor 5 in Germany in 1987 and moved to the United States in 1996. The firm is providing the Nintendo GameCube its MusyX Audio Tools, the primary sound software of the console platform, and is in collaboration with LucasArts Entertainment. In addition, the development team's ambitious Star Wars: Rogue Squadron set standards in the Nintendo 64 market and Factor 5's forthcoming Star Wars Rogue Leader: Rogue Squadron II is not about to break that trend. Additionally, a third-person shooter entitled Thornado is in the works. Indeed, Factor 5's diversity is a welcome addition to the Nintendo GameCube's roster. Through compacting audio tools and technology, Mr. Eggebrecht and Factor 5 have presented the gaming industry with something of a hearing aid.
| Ken Kutaragi|
Ken Kutaragi is currently the president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America. Mr. Kutaragi got his feet wet in the console industry while working with Nintendo on the never released CD-ROM add on for the SNES. After that, the Sony/Nintendo deal dissolved, he became a driving force behind Sony entering the console market on its own. With the success of the Playstation, Mr. Kutaragi took the helm of SCEA as CEO and helped to bring about the release of the Playstation 2. Without his efforts, Sony may not have entered the console gaming market at all.
| Ken Lobb|
Though some may not know much about Ken Lobb, everyone's surely heard his name down the line before. The ?Klobb,' a gun from Rare's GoldenEye N64 title, was named after Ken, who worked on the game along with its UK developer. In addition to previous work such as Killer Instinct Gold, Mr. Lobb is looking to the future with games to be released on Nintendo's upcoming GameCube.
Minoru Arakawa is the President and founder of Nintendo of America. As the president of NOA, Mr. Arakawa has been responsible for introducing the NES, SNES, N64, and Game Boy family of consoles to the American public. His keen business sense helped to revitalize the American console market with the Nintendo Entertainment System in the mid and late 1980's and has helped Nintendo to remain a constant player in the U.S. videogame industry. In addition to calling the shots at NOA, he has also worked as a producer on several Nintendo software titles, including 1994's Super Punch-Out for the SNES.
| Neil Voss|
At the tender age 12, Neil Voss began experimenting with electronic music on his Commadore-64 and this hobby soon became a big part of his life. He later became an underground electronic music developer, but saw his fellow composers signing to game developers, and made the obvious choice to follow them by joining H20, a third party developer for Atari's Jaguar. His first project was Phear, but after Jaguar tanked, H20 signed to Nintendo and began to expand on Phear turning it into Tetrisphear. At his new position as Audio Director, Voss produced, composed, and engineered the whole soundtrack for Tetrisphear, which most say made the game a hit. When Voss went on to create more hit techno music for H20 in the N64 puzzler The Next Tetris, that soundtrack became an instant favorite here, at Gaming Target. Hats off to Neil Voss; yet another video game pioneer.
| Nolan Bushnell|
This man created the greatness that which us Americans call Pong; does anything else need to be said? Well I am going to let you know a little more anyway. After pong he became the founder of a game system you might remember, Atari. He ended up selling the Atari gaming company to Time Warner in 1977 for 28 million dollars. Nolan also went on to create a Pizza chain kids all around the United States love, Chuck E. Cheese. After all of this, many people consider Nolan Bushnell the Godfather of Gaming.
| Peter Main|
One of the most popular names in the news of Nintendo has been our Canadian friend, VP of sales and marketing, Peter Main. After creating of ideas for products from Colgate-Palmolive, Main took his position at Nintendo, which he still holds, and helped market the sale of the company's systems. He has creating promotional buzz to sell systems like NES, SNES, N64, and now the working on the upcoming Gamecube, which releases this Fall.
| Peter Moore|
Peter Moore took over as Sega of Americas President and COO at a very unstable time. After the firing of Bernie Stolar, and the critical launch of Sega's Dreamcast after a failing life with Sega Saturn, most thought that anyone who took over this position would either have a death wish or simply be crazy. Well sometimes you have to be crazy to be a success, and Peter Moore was crazy enough to take up the challenge. Taking up the job just before the launch of the Dreamcast was a risky maneuver, but in time it proved to be the right one. Moore's success did not stop there as Segas's innovative ideas began to take flight well before that of Sony and Nintendo's. Ideas such as SegaNet, the first console dedicated network for console games, allowed Dreamcast owners too play games like Phantasy Star, and NFL 2K1 head to head with other Dreamcast owners. Peter Moore is still taking Sega to the point in the video game industry where it deserves to be; at the top.
| Ralph Baer|
For all you gamers out there who are looking for the man to thank for all your hours of gaming entertainment, this is your man. Ralph Baer is commonly referred to as the ?Father of Videogames?, and for good reason. His accomplishments include creating the first 2-player game, the first use of a light gun, he designed and produced the first ever gaming console (The Magnavox Odyssey, 1971), and he also made the first coin operated machine, Pong. And these are just a few of his remarkable achievements; father of gaming indeed.
| Tom Kalinske|
A lot of new gamers these today may not recognize this man. He was Sega of America's President during the 16-bit era back in the early 90's. Tom Kalinske was the man responsible for Sega's strong stand against Nintendo, you know, back when the Sega Genesis was holding its own against the more powerful Super Nintendo system. With some clever advertising and some amazing titles, Sega made their name known in the 16-bit wars, and Kalinske was the mastermind behind it all.
| Warren Davis|
Davis was a game developer for Gottlieb where he made the world famous Q*Bert and the not so famous Us vs. Them. Q*Bert was a constant moneymaker from 1983 to 1984. While Us vs. Them was considered a good game, it didn't reach the same level that Q*Bert did. When Davis left Gottlieb, he went to Midway and made his most successful game Joust 2. Davis also helped the industry in other ways, by starting the game development tools, which eventually became NARC. Davis later went on to make Terminator 2 gun game for the arcade, which became a highly renowned game.
| Warren Spector|
Warren Spector has been a god in the PC industry for as long as I can remember. Spector brought upon changes in the RPG genre through his work on the Ultima and Ultima Underworld series' that not only revolutionized the RPG genre, but PC gaming in general. After his work on the Ultima series as well as Ultima Underworld, Spector set out to try and merge the RPG genre and the FPS genre and he did so with great success. System Shock, while didn't get rewarded by much commercial success, was praised for the way it was able to immerse the player in a world full of mystery and excitement. He also created such popular games as Serpents Isle and Wings of Glory before moving on to assist in one of the most innovative games of the last 5 years in Thief.
Thief was another game that was able to draw the gamer and make them feel that they were part of the world, but unlike many other FPS Thief emphasized the use of stealth rather then firepower. Warren then moved on to head his own development studio known as Ion Storm Austin and they produced which was hands down the best PC game last year, Deus Ex. Through the use of a great story and the mixing of a few genres, Spector was once again able to draw the player into the game and make him feel like he was there. The player was able to interact with almost every object in the game, each mission was bale to be completed the way the player wanted and the use of multiple endings helped make this one of the most open ended games in a long time. Now Spector has his eyes set of bringing even more immersion into his next couple games, Deus Ex 2 and Thief 3.