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Obituary:  DJ Hero  Producer Will Townsend
Obituary: DJ Hero Producer Will Townsend
December 14, 2011 | By Tom Curtis

December 14, 2011 | By Tom Curtis
More: Console/PC, Production

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."

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Eric Geer
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Sorry to hear, RIP, and condolences to his family and friends.

Scott Carroll
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I just heard this news earlier today. I worked with Will during his early days at EA Los Angeles. His sense of humor, positive attitude, and leadership skills were inspiring to everyone around him. This is a terrible loss, not just for those who worked with Will, but for his friends too. I consider myself lucky to be counted as both.

Alex Beckers
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I never met Will, but knew many people who worked with him closely. This is horrible news. Many condolences to his family, friends and peers.

Noah Sarid
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What a sad loss. Will had a special way of filling the room with laughter and cheer. He was loved by many, and will be missed by many. I will miss him greatly. RIP Will.

Jared Yeager
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Will Townsend was more than a great producer and mentor, but an amazing friend. He was so great at what he did professionally and personally because he lived the simple truth that so many of us can easily forget in the hustle and bustle of our daily lives. "It's all about people," and Will Townsend shall be remembered as one of the best, we love you.

Steve McIlroy
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Will was the Producer on many of the Wii and DS games I worked on while at Activision. This is truly sad. I can't believe it. Rest in peace buddy. :(

Daneel Filimonov
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I never knew him personally, but I'd been inspired by some of the creations he took part in. It's truly a loss to have someone like him die at his prime.

Sincere condolences to his family and friends :(

N3uromancer Fett
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I was at Activision as a tester during the Spider Man 3 and Call of Duty 3 projects. My condolences to his loved ones. RIP

Adam Tapio
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I had the pleasure and honor of working with Will recently. I don't think I ever had a conversation with him where he didn't make me laugh or smile.

This is such a tragic loss. Rest in peace friend.

Bob Johnson
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Nick Perrett
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A sound guy, rip.

Robert Townsend
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This is Robert, Will's brother. I'd like to thank Tom Curtis for this wonderful article. I never seem to have the right words to say, but from reading things like this, hearing comments and reading emails, it's amazing to know that Will has made such an impact in the world in such a short time. It's unbelievably tragic, but the outpouring of love for him is incredible, and also not surprising. As an update, I thought it was important that people reading know that he was actually killed by a drunk driver while helping a friend in need, which obviously makes this whole situation even more senseless. My family thanks the whole gaming community for their love and support, and for embracing Will and laughing with him.

Aaron Casillas
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I just got the news, I knew Townsend from his very first day at Activision QA, he was a bright soul always upbeat and on beat. I looked forward to meeting up with him at every E3 to have a drink and talk about old times...truly a tragic loss. He will be missed.

Tim Borrelli
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brian tibbetts
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T-Spoon was among a very small group of people on earth who I consider my closest friends. I literally began my gaming career greeted by his jubilated radiance as he met me in the old Bel Air branch of EA and walked me to the QA Dungeon with a skip in his step, and of course, something hysterical manifesting from his quick-witted mind. The introduction to gaming and severe 'EA-Spouse-Related' crunches would not have been tolerable if not for Will's glowing spirit which can magically transform frustration and anguish into light-hearted fun, inspiration, and a deeper appreciate for life. Stories like this are a common theme among those who worked with him and I feel deeply blessed to have also known him beyond that space. He is the type of friend who will drop everything for you at a moment's notice to hold your hand, no matter how difficult and dark your struggle. He did so many times with me and I did my best to reciprocate the Love. Humans like Will are truly unique in this world and though I am paralyzed with grief like so many, I vow to live by his example in the days ahead. Love. Laughter. Joy. Actualization. CARPE TOWNSEND! I cannot convey how much I miss you, kind friend.

Jacob Van Rooyen
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I thought of Will today, while reminiscing about days gone by. Will had a kind heart and was always willing to help anyone out. His capacity for caring for the people he worked with and making sure things moved smoothly was an inspiration, and helped form my perception of who I wanted to be as a producer and as a person.

Though it is nearly two years later, I still feel the loss, but feel fortunate to have met somebody who, even in our brief encounters, was able to be as impactful as he was. Goodbye, Will.