In video games, we usually pay a lot of attention to a game’s characters. While there’s certainly nothing wrong with that, it’s important to give credit where credit is due, and there are a lot of people who work behind the scenes who deserve more credit than they’re getting. Whether it’s developers, publishers, or testers, it takes a lot of people to make and distribute a video game. Today, we want to acknowledge some of the people who have made a big impact on the industry. Here are our favorite guys in gaming.
“When your average gamer thinks of his favorite guys in gaming, Shigeru Miyamoto is usually the first name that pops up. Miyamoto has done more for gaming than anyone else ever will. His contributions should not go unnoticed. That being said, there’s another guy at Nintendo who is doing some seriously big things, yet his contributions frequently go unnoticed. The guy I’m talking about is Satoru Iwata.
Satoru Iwata is the president of Nintendo. While he is a businessman, he’s a developer at heart. He’s worked with HAL Laboratory on the Kirby franchise for many years now. He’s also worked on The Legend of Zelda, Mario, and Animal Crossing. Today, he doesn’t work on games as much as he does systems, but he’s still involved. What I love about Iwata is that he is the voice of the hardcore gamer among the Nintendo big three (Iwata, Miyamoto, Fils-Aime). While Fils-Aime seems to ignore the hardcore audience and Miyamoto just does his own thing, Iwata advocates for the hardcore gamers. He has listened to the criticisms of the Wii and he wants to correct these mistakes in the Wii U. He is trying to both strengthen Nintendo’s relationships with third-party developers and create a better online system for the Wii U. Also, he’s honest. While many people are lying to customers now, Iwata is telling us the cold, hard facts. He admits that the Wii had some problems, and he also admits that he might not be able to fix all of the problems with the Wii U, but he’ll do his best. He also seems to be a genuinely nice guy. Even when someone complains about something ridiculous, he politely responds to the complaint.
There has been a lot to complain about with the Wii. It has dated graphics, a horrible online system, and (sometimes) finicky controls. While some people might blame the Wii’s problems on something else, Iwata admits that Nintendo made some mistakes with the Wii. He doesn’t run away from his problems; he tackles them head on. It’s so refreshing to see someone actually admit that his product has had some problems. I’ve really felt ripped off by Nintendo during this generation. Every time I think the Wii can’t get any worse I get proven wrong yet again. I’ve been very mad at Nintendo many times during this generation. That being said, I still plan on buying a Wii U at launch. The reason? I believe in Iwata. I think he truly wants Nintendo to catch up to modern times and please the hardcore audience. While some things are holding gaming back, Iwata is moving it forward.
In many ways, Iwata is the perfect person to be the president of a video game company. He has the experience and mind of a businessman, but he has the heart of a gamer. He wants his company to produce quality products for more reasons than to just make money. He wants his company’s products to change the way we play video games so that new experiences can be created. He doesn’t just want us to take part in these experiences, he also wants take part in them himself. Iwata is not just a businessman, he’s a gamer. He loves to make them, and he loves to play them.
Nintendo hasn’t been doing well lately, but with a guy like Iwata running the company, I know they’ll turn things around.”
- Jay Curtis
” There was a time, not too long ago, when I had a revelation. I was asked which three living people I would eat dinner with if given the choice. I chose Anthony Bourdain, Jack Black and Tim Schafer. Right around that time Brutal Legend came out. Right around that time I got really into heavy metal. Right around that time I realized the work Tim Schafer and Double Fine produced was something truly special.
It is almost impossible to not stand in awe of the man. He has made — simply put — so. many. games. Games for adults, games for kids. Games with guns, games with matryoshka dolls. Games with giant robots, games with Muppets. Games with burgeoning pirate lads, games with pulpy skeletons. Most importantly for me, games with Jack Black. Just peep at IGN’s list of the 50 Greatest Game Worlds. He’s all over it! But, it’s actually hard to pinpoint what makes his (and DF’s) games so good when they span so many ideas. Still, the constants are always there: excellent writing and a distinct humanity. While a lot of that certainly comes from the collective staff, much of it can be seen directly in Mr. Schafer. Humor, passion, craft. Always a present and welcoming face to his games, you can feel and see his handiwork. The man is singular.
Then, it happened. While Double Fine used to be a sort-of indie cred namedrop, it is now a buzzword and benchmark. The massive success of the Double Fine Adventure Kickstarter is omnipresent now. People finally got the chance to put their money on the line, directly and intimately, and they appeared in throngs of thousands. The massive amount of moolah (backed, by the way) raised on such a risky gambit, again faced by Schafer, is a reward for hard work and dedication to quality. And who knows what will come from him in later years. The studio has become much more prolific lately, taking risks with the blossoming digital distribution surge. It’s a perfect place for Mr. Schafer’s creative and personal games, away from the suffocating, strangling, stifling chokehold of the huge publishers all striving to make the next big shooter. So, here’s to you, Tim Schafer, you truly are of legend.”
“Jay Curtis, the Gamers Association Father of Community Articles himself, asked me the other day if I would contribute to his latest production about our favorite guys in gaming. Like a gentleman (a gentleman riddled with guilt for saying “yes” to his backlog of brilliant collaborative ideas that sadly never came to fruition, that is), I agreed at once…Only to be left stumped. I jammed the idea in my mind’s incubation chamber, always running it through my subconscious thoughts, assuming someone would step forth and slap me for forgetting how influential he has been throughout my gaming career.
Now it’s tonight, three days after the proposal’s inception, and I’ve got nothing.
To be clear, I’m no stranger to real-life hero worship. Christopher Nolan swept me off my feet, firmly planting my jaw to the floor with Memento (not surprisingly, my favorite film). I have since salivated for, sought out, and seen everything that man has put together. “Genius” doesn’t come close to describing this filmmaker, and a plague o’ ev’ry house that dares declare otherwise.
And believe me when I say it’s best if we don’t progress to my praise of Stephen King.
But it terms of gaming, of my primary passion beyond belief…Alas, it’s a mystery, and will likely remain so. Years earlier and I wouldn’t be able to explain why, but one college course in film study changed all that.
Video games, unlike the other forms of popular entertainment including music, movies, and books, do not currently play into the auteur theory. I won’t go all Art Kid on you and explain every in-and-out of the belief, but auteur theory basically points to one person’s (the “auteurist’s” – often a director’s) observable influence and dominance in a final product, despite the collection of people who might have helped in its creation. While usually reserved for filmmaking, I’ve expanded the idea to touch these other media. For example, some common thread of thematic elements are infused within every piece of Nolan’s work. His movies feel like Nolan films, and you can just tell that he had his hand in them.
Gaming, on the other hand, doesn’t deliver this same feeling. Or, at least it doesn’t always deliver it, as I guess you could argue that David Cage’s games are quite similar to one another. But deep down that man obviously just wants to be a filmmaker anyway, so let’s forget about him. Regardless of the possible exceptions, auteur theory doesn’t touch every product of a particular developer in this industry, and therefore, I rarely build an alliance with the faces behind the scenes. Rather, I find that I’m attracted to specific franchises or even entire development teams, yet the head honcho isn’t the reason for my devotion.
I could expand on this idea indefinitely (and probably will, now that I’ve been led to mention it), but I’m sure Jay doesn’t want me overtaking his article with a grandiose display that turns everyone away. So, for now, know that I have no one I adore enough to earn the title of “favorite.” Perhaps one day, with the evolution of gaming and the never-ending emphasis on elaborate cinematics, I’ll find my man. For now, though, I’m ambivalent without the allure of the auteur.”