You may scarcely be aware of it, but there's a battle raging in your living room each time you sit down for an evening of entertainment: between American Idol and Rock Band, The Dark Knight and Batman: Arkham Asylum, 1 vs. 100 and ... well, 1 vs. 100. Hundreds, if not thousands, of entertainment companies are vying for screen space each time you power on your HDTV, from TV networks to film production companies to videogame publishers. Individually, you may be just another guy with a few hours to kill after work, but collectively, that time and attention is worth billions. Worth fighting for? You bet your sweet, sedentary ass it is.
But while primetime may be the main theater of battle, smaller skirmishes are happening constantly. Maybe you're on the bus to work and trying to decide between staying abreast of the day's news or desperately trying to lower your Brain Age. Perhaps you're on a coffee break with just enough time to catch up on a blog or two. Or maybe you're trying to choose between completing that spreadsheet your boss assigned you two weeks ago and planting some virtual pumpkins in FarmVille - a task that is equally mundane yet infinitely more rewarding.
We've had these choices for the last decade and a half on the web, but thanks to smartphones like the iPhone, which offer ubiquitous internet access and a user experience that is quickly approaching the convenience and accessibility of a desktop, they now follow us wherever we go. The stakes are smaller, but when you add up all the brief interludes between home and work, your desk and the break room or, hell, one browser tab and the next, you end up with a pretty substantial chunk of time - and Digital Chocolate wants a piece of that pie.
Seize the Minute
Trip Hawkins is the founder of Digital Chocolate, a developer based out of San Mateo, CA, that has taken the world of mobile gaming by storm. But before he conceived of the company in 2003, he had already built a reputation in the industry as both a pioneer and a risk-taker. In 1982, he left his executive role at Apple Computers to found a tiny videogame publisher called Electronic Arts. What started as a handful of colleagues from Apple and other Silicon Valley firms quickly grew into one of the most influential videogame publishers in the industry.
In fact, Hawkins may be one of the people most responsible for positioning videogames as a competitor with other media like television and film. "When I founded EA, my big idea was to bring Hollywood principles to software engineering and establish games as a new entertainment art form," Hawkins says. That meant appealing to the best developers by treating them as artists rather than technicians, offering them direct access to players by controlling their games' distribution and giving those artists the technological resources to realize their creative visions. "In 1982, nobody offered any of those benefits to game developers, and they made EA the leader within a few years."