A producer of console shooters working at a PC strategy house? Has the world gone topsy-turvy?
Gordon Van Dyke began his professional career working at Swedish developer DICE as an associate producer on Battlefield: 2142 in 2006 and continued developing many shooters in the series over the next four years. He left DICE last April and moved 5,447 miles (Stockholm to San Francisco) to work for another studio wholly-owned by Electronic Arts, Visceral Games, and there concentrated on producing a still un-announced AAA title. But then life intervened, as it is wont to do, when Van Dyke became a father for the first time with his Swedish wife this year and the couple suddenly felt very homesick for Scandinavia.
"As you know, it's an amazing/scary time having your first child," Van Dyke told me. "My wife and I agreed it was better for me to move back to Sweden to raise our daughter and so she was close to her family for support." Having just had my daughter born in a relatively new place, I know exactly what was going through Gordon's head, but luckily he didn't have to give up making the games he loves.
"Through some fortunate events I was introduced to Fredrik," he said, referring to Fredrik Wester, the CEO of Paradox Interactive. (Click here for an overview of Paradox's 2011 catalogue.) "We hit it off so well, and with the rest of the team, I just knew it was where I should go to further my career in the way I was hungry for. And last, but not least, [the job] was in Stockholm, making so many good things fall right into place for my family!"
From Wester's point of view, hiring Van Dyke away from EA was an incredibly easy process. "It was simple really. I got an email from a friend with the best recommendations for Gordon, and since we had an open position for a producer, he was hired two days later," Wester said.
Paradox games focus on the strategy PC audience for the most part while Van Dyke has primarily worked on console shooters, but Wester doesn't think there is conflict between their sensibilities. "Gordon started learning how to create games in the Battlefield Mod scene, so his core experience is with PC. And by heart Gordon is a gamer, not necessarily a console producer, and that is most important to us," Wester said.
How will Van Dyke adjust to working for a smaller company without a corporate overlord like Visceral/EA? "I think it was harder for me to adjust to the former and Paradox is more the environment I truly shine in," Van Dyke said. "I came from the internet industry and love the more startup type of feel you get from smaller companies, and you still get that from Paradox even though they're a bit bigger and stable."
As he gets used to his butt sitting in a new chair, Van Dyke will begin overseeing projects already in the Paradox pipeline like the innovative MMO Salem and Gettysburg: Armored Warfare. Working from Paradox's main office in Stockholm, Van Dyke will communicate with the external teams to make sure those games are up to snuff, but he's also putting energy into some unannounced projects with codenames like Postman and Bodyguard.
"I'm really excited to work on games that present players with something they never played before, but that five to ten years down the road, it's the experience everyone is trying to create," Van Dyke said.
"I already think some of our unannounced title are going to do that."
As a fan of many games under the Paradox banner who is sometimes put off by their presentation, I hope Gordon Van Dyke brings his can of AAA polish-cream back with him to Stockholm. I'll withhold judgement until I see the products of this holy union of console and PC, but I think that the prospects for some truly great gaming experiences are pretty darn good.
Fredrik Wester and Gordon Van Dyke will be around at E3 so expect to hear more about Paradox's upcoming projects next week.