In this first installment, we talk to Blizzard's Rob Pardo (World Of Warcraft), and Big Rooster's Tim Gerritsen (Prey) about how being a father has changed the way they do business and make games.
Rob Pardo (pictured)
Father to Logan, 2, and Sydney, 7 (Vice President of Game Design, Blizzard Entertainment)
Playing games with my daughter is great because it really allows me to see what is fundamentally fun about game mechanics. For example, when she was only 5 years old, she would just jump off buildings over and over and collect lots of different outfits for her character.
I generally have more of an "achiever" mentality when I play games, and playing with my daughter really helps give me a more rounded perspective towards games.
Currently we are playing World of Warcraft (she is a level 54 warlock) and we are also playing some Wii games like Super Paper Mario (we just finished Zelda Twilight Princess)
Father to Helena, 12, Beck, 10, Roland, 4 (Executive Director, Big Rooster)
I was pretty seriously goal-driven before I had kids, and having kids allowed me to relax and have more fun while working on those goals. I got into the simple joys of just exploring and building for building's sake. It reminded me of how much fun there is in just simply exploring the world around you - and seeing how adjusting a little thing here or a little thing there can change the whole nature of something you are doing. It also opened up a whole new range of interests for me creatively as I was exposed to what my kids find interesting, funny and cool, and that has definitely impacted my approach to design.
One thing that also affected me was the fact that my kids can't play the games I'm working on and that really bothered me. My kids were far too young for Rune, and there's no way I was going to let them play Prey. Honestly, it was one of the factors that led to my leaving Human Head. I realized the only way I was ever going to be able to have my kids play the games I was working on was for them to become adults, and I simply didn't want to wait that long.
Don't get me wrong, I have no issues at all working on an adult- themed or rated game, but I also wanted to make a game that my kids could play. None of my partners had kids (one partner had a kid just a very short few weeks before I left the company), so there was no impetus at all to do anything but adult fare. It wasn't fair for me to keep cajoling my partners on this point, so I decided that if it was going to happen, I'd have to do it myself.
Ironically, my daughter was the model for the creepy little girl in Prey. She's nothing like that, of course, in real life. She knows that she is in the game, but she's not seen her character other than as a static model. She's just too young. She agreed to do it, but all she knows is that she is a villain in the game.
My kids like games, and we do play together. My older kids absolutely love Age of Mythology, Civilization IV and Galactic Civilizations II, which they found on their own. I don't know why they gravitate to that, as I didn't push them in that direction (we have a ton of games at our house in all genres), but they did.
My youngest likes watching me play games that he probably shouldn't be watching, but he loves Rayman Raving Rabids on the Wii. My older kids are going to play World of Warcraft with me over the summer (under my supervision, as I will be playing online with them at the same time), and my son and I are working on game designs together, both video games and table top games.
We all play board and miniature games galore, including AT-43, Warhammer and Warhammer 40K, Battletech, Talisman, Ticket To Ride, and we're geeking out all together this year and going to GenCon as a family.
[Gamasutra would like to thank Brenda Brathwaite, game designer and professor at Savannah College of Art and Design, for arranging these series of Q&As to honor Father's Day. We'll be posting installments throughout the week, with a full feature, including many not-yet-printed tributes, on Friday.]