Obituary: DJ Hero Producer Will Townsend
Will Townsend, a veteran producer in the game industry, was tragically killed in a car accident in Los Angeles on Monday night. He was 33 years old.
Townsend is remembered by his friends and colleagues as a creative manager, problem solver and jokester whose spirit and smile were infectious to those around him.
Townsend began his career in game development in 2001, when he scored his first contract testing job at Electronic Arts' Westwood studio. Over the next four years, he transitioned into an assistant producer role, and shipped titles such as Command & Conquer: Generals, Medal of Honor: European Assault and Lord of the Rings: Battle for Middle Earth.
He later moved on to Activision, where he worked on Spider-Man 3 for consoles and handhelds, and oversaw the development of several Guitar Hero titles for Wii and DS. It was here where Townsend became a full-fledged producer, and helped lead the development of the first DJ Hero.
In January, Townsend joined MapleStory publisher Nexon America, where he helped manage the company's social and mobile game operations.
Throughout his career, Townsend was beloved by many of his colleagues, particularly for his optimism and infectious humor.
"I worked with Will at EA during the worst crunch I've ever experienced," Zynga animator Adam McCarthy tells us. "Will was, without a doubt, one of the reasons I was able to keep laughing and having fun at my job during the darkest period of my 19-year career in the games industry."
"His amazing spirit and infectious smile made every day more fun and interesting. I never had a single conversation with Will where he didn't make me laugh."
Beyond his humor, Townsend is also remembered for his superior management skills and business insight.
"He had a knack for the creative, execution, and business aspects of the industry -- all the traits that make a great producer," says former colleague Amir Rahimi, also from Zynga. "He was also the kind of guy that, no matter how serious a meeting, would find a way to make the room smile."
"One thing that gives me solace is that he lived every minute of his life to the fullest. In his 33 years, he probably experienced more than most people do in 80."