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The Game Developer 50

April 13, 2010 Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5


Jason Della Rocca
Perimeter Partners

As the executive director of the IGDA from 2000 through early 2009, Della Rocca has played a key role in advocating for game developers and the games industry in general on a multitude of issues. His strong leadership on elements such as quality of life issues and game crediting was important in growing the IGDA by a massive factor during his tenure.

While his departure -- to run a consultancy devoted to counseling local and national governments on attracting game development talent -- was surprising, his selfless work deserves both mentioning and honoring here.

Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik
Penny Arcade

As far as evangelists within the community, Holkins and Krahulik are practically bar none. Their discussion of games is intelligent and relevant, if occasionally too spiky for developers, and their Penny Arcade Expo is an undeniable nerd haven.

But they also promote the goodwill of gamers and developers alike through their Child's Play charity, which donates money, games, and toys (to the tune of $1.4 million in 2008) to children's hospitals in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere. Their good work reflects well on all of us, partially because we are participating directly in their successes.

Dennis McCauley

Before McCauley, there were no journalists dedicated specifically to the intersection of games, censorship, social issues, and politics. With his site (which he recently left to pursue non-journalistic avenues), McCauley essentially created a vital news beat all of his own.

Though the web site was purchased by game consumer advocacy group the ECA in October 2006, and McCauley is no longer involved in running the still-extant outlet, his work in documenting and reporting on the legislation (and Florida-based lawyers!) that affect games, and the information that allows game developers and players to get involved in shaping the course of our own industry, has been vital.

Petri Purho

For a sustained period, Finnish indie creator Purho made a game every single month. Purho's efforts have not only inspired further indies, but his theatrical, whip-smart attitude to both game development and public speaking help exemplify the role of the independent game creator as the neglected personal angle.

Nowhere was this better demonstrated than his "creation of an entire game in five minutes" at his 2009 Indie Games Summit rant session, something he was asked to replicate at several other worldwide shows. Whether the feat was true (spoiler: it wasn't), it wrapped the glory of performance and the joy of game creation into one breathless whole. Bravo.

Tim Schafer
Double Fine

Brutal Legend is the result of a strongly-realized vision by Tim Schafer and crew, but more important for the industry, Schafer makes games look cool.

Not just his own game, with its mass of big stars with cultural cache, but through his humorous and personable appearances in the public eye, most notably on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon on NBC, Schafer has managed to make game developers look like real, funny, witty people. While Will Wright holds up the supernerd end, Schafer pushes forward the personable and sociable side.

Kiyoshi Shin
IGDA Japan

As the head of IGDA Japan and a prominent game columnist and media commentator, Kiyoshi Shin has done a lot of work to bridge the gap between Japanese and Western developers. Aside from his work advocating for independent development in Japanese outlets like Nikkei, the two-year-old Sense of Wonder Night is one of his most notable achievements.

The event is held during the Tokyo Game Show, and like GDC's Experimental Gameplay Showcase for an international group of indies, gives creators 10 minutes in which to present their games to a global audience. The cultural sharing and networking gleaned from this event is not to be undervalued.

Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall
Video Games Live

Tommy Tallarico and Jack Wall have been very active in promoting their traveling worldwide concert, Video Games Live, for several years now. The show brings game scores to the masses via live orchestral and rock performances, highlights and features on stage the creators of many of these scores, and helps to keep game music from being relegated to background noise.

Indeed, the Brazilian government subsidized the group's show in the country as furthering the artistic development of students. Anything that advances popular and governmental recognition of games as an important entertainment medium warrants a place on our list.

Yoichi Wada
Square Enix

Yoichi Wada is the president and CEO of Square Enix, but he's on this list because of his chairmanship of the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association (CESA), Japan's equivalent of the ESA. Wada has become increasingly vocal about Japan's reasons for falling behind in the game software world, citing the country's lack of development hubs and discussion forums, which would promote an exchange of ideas, as well as Japanese companies' tendency to solve the same problems separately.

Wada and CESA -- through outlets like Japanese developer conference CEDEC and Tokyo Game Show roundtables -- are serious about helping the Japanese industry reclaim some of its lost luster.

Will Wright
Stupid Fun Club

Though he no longer works at Maxis, where he created SimCity and The Sims, and has moved on from working exclusively on games, Will Wright may now glow even brighter as a beacon for electronic entertainment.

Freed from the burden of Spore, he can innovate anew, and anyone who can discuss games and Russian space technology in the same breath is helping to elevate games from the "murder/smut simulator" stigma which at times has threatened to seep into the industry's pores from popular opinion.

Derek Yu
TIGSource, Mossmouth

An active indie developer himself, Yu's games, from Diabolika to IGF Award-winning Aquaria to Spelunky, provide inspiration for the independent games community. But we're honoring him here for running TIGSource, which is a wonderfully random and helpful indie game community.

Not only has Derek and the site been active in helping defend indies when they get raked over the coals for unexpectedly fragrant issues (see the Edge Games controversy), the regular TIGSource competitions birth often brilliant games on startlingly esoteric topics.

[EDITORS' NOTE: As with when this story was printed in Game Developer magazine late last year, past the normal controversy about specific people not being mentioned, there's been complaints - particularly from Channel 4's Alice Taylor - about the lack of women on the list.

We will simply note that we regret not having women game developers on the list, and the list was the people we felt had major accomplishments in the year  to somewhere around October 2009, divided into those categories. In addition, we do have a record of feature-length articles and charts on women in the game business, and indeed, our 2008 Top Deck list - this list's previous iteration - featured multiple female honorees alongside male. In addition, the Frag Dolls' Rhoulette has prepared a list of game industry women to know as a counterpoint to this list's original publishing.]

Article Start Previous Page 5 of 5

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Bob Stevens
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Snubbed again!

Dana Cowley
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Congrats to Jason Della Rocca. Glad to see his tireless years of dedication to the IGDA recognized here.

Reid Kimball
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@Bob, same here. I can't believe it... "Miyamoto never had to work for press like this."

PS: I'm joking about not being on the list.

Sean Currie
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Amy Hennig?

I take it she's not part of this list because she has an entire upcoming issue of Game Developer devoted to her.

Right? Riiiight?

David Paterson
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No audio folks?? (Apart from Tommy T. and Jack Wall, and they're in for Video Games Live...)

Kim Pallister
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Alice has a nice rant about the high percentage of men on the list:

Mark Kilborn
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What David Paterson says. I'd love to see some audio people on this list, and I can definitely name a few who are worthy. Let's see... Charles Deenen, Akira Yamaoka and Bruce Swanson to name but a few.

Mac Senour
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um, Producers?

Glenn Storm
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(Nice list. Thank you, Gamasutra. But, I have to agree with David, Mark and Mac. If you're going to list developers, expect this kind of criticism.)

But, primarily, LOL @ Stephen's "USC Voltron" and Reid's quote relay.

Mark Kilborn
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Producers don't do anything. They just order dinner.

...kidding :). I work with an amazing producer. ANYWAY.

Sorry to nitpick you guys, I realize a list like this is going to cause some controversy. My frustration is just that you obviously started with discipline divisions, but certain disciplines just aren't represented at all. I'm sure the next top 50 will address this though :)

Alexander Bruce
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I read this list, I read Alice's rant and all the comments on both articles. As has been pointed out by many people, lists like these are always going to exclude someone. You can't please everyone unless you make a list of "The top 50,000 people in industry" and just name everyone you can. Hell, even if you did that, I'm sure people would still be sour at not being included, and then you'd start getting into rankings, etc.

I take these lists as a bit of fun, though I know that's not the case for others.

Ismini Boinodiris
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Statistically speaking, out of 100 developers you have about 12 female developers. So just looking at statistics here, it's reasonable to say that out of 50 developers, around 6 of them are likely going to be women.

The fact that they couldn't even name ONE woman on this list is extremely disheartening to me. Are the authors of this article just completely oblivious to which women have been working to shape this industry? Why is it that not one woman appeared on their radars? Did they compare their list to say... the nominees/winners from the Microsoft Women in Gaming Awards at GDC?

Not that I ever put much stock into these kind of lists anyway, but it's still disappointing.

Tim Carter
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Thanks to Gamasutra for mentioning these developers by name.

joy pan
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Jenova Chen-when I see his resume first ,so surprised!he change work so rapid and use this way to add his experience.

Michiel Hendriks
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Using statistics to reason always cracks me up. So according to statistics 12 out of 100 game industry people are women. If I would build a list of the 100 most significant people in the game industry, there is no guarantee that 12% if female. Being female, left handed, or born on February 29 toed isn't a factor. The chance that I roll 6 times 6 with a dice is quite low, but that doesn't mean it won't happen.

Anyway... it's just a list compiled to more or less personal preference of a group of people. Respect their reasoning/opinion.

Or not.

Senthil Kannan
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But where's my name?? ;-)

Emma Smith
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I hope I'm on something like this one day in the future :)

Ruthaniel van-den-Naar
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Successful people lose breath with sense of fulfillment, the best ones are always those hungry young dog, who stands nearby, only few have an eternal hunger. Games are teamwork, icons needs mainly marketing.