The videogame media covers a lot. Mostly they cover games. Sometimes they cover platforms, or game accessories, and they'll do the occasional riff on geek culture. But they hardly ever talk about people. That's pretty weird. In virtually every other field, coverage of people dominates the media: Imagine business journalism that discussed the market but didn't mention CEOs and corporate leaders. Imagine movie journalism that reviewed films but didn't talk about the actors, directors, and producers, music journalism that covered songs without talking about the singers and songwriters. It's hard to imagine.
In fact, most of the time, the media is so focused on talking about people that they will ignore, say, mass revolutions against oppressive theocracies, in order to have more time to talk about dead pop stars. But not gaming: We never talk about people if we can help it. It's like there's some dark and terrible secret about videogames: "they're made by people! Videogames are made by PEOPLE!" (Apologies to Charlton Heston.)
Videogames are made by people, and people are what we're going to talk about today - important, interesting people in the game industry, people that you should know about. It's a particularly good time to talk about people in gaming right now. It's a time of turmoil, a Great Recession. Videogame companies are cutting staff with a chain-gun, even as top people are walking away from positions of power to try brave new things.
My friend Greg Costikyan wrote an eloquent screed about people and games over 15 years ago, decrying the fact that game companies wouldn't talk about the people behind their games. As in most things, Costikyan was ahead of the curve in calling this out. So I'll start my discussion of people in the games industry by talking about Greg Costikyan.
Just last month, Costikyan shut down his most recent venture, Manifesto Games. Manifesto began in September 2005; Costikyan literally announced the vision and business model of Manifesto in The Escapist, in his seminal article "Death to the Games Industry!" Costikyan was spot- on in his vision, though too early to the market with Manifesto. This wasn't the first time - the man who gave us Paranoia, Toon, and the Star Wars RPG also did the first million player online game, micropayment mini-games before Runescape, and mobile games before iPhone. Whatever Costikyan's next move is, it's a safe bet that that it'll be where gaming is headed, too.
Costikyan's not the only creative genius ready for a new engagement. Three others come to mind. Mark DeLoura is the former EIC of Game Developer Magazine, the Editor of the Game Programming Gems series of books (which sit on a lot of developer book shelves across the world), serves on the advisory board of GDC and on the board of the IGDA, and has been in technical direction and developer relations since the Nintendo 64 era. With his former employer, GreenScreen Interactive, having been crushed by the 2008 recession, DeLoura is certain to step into another high profile role soon.