Hall of Fame

Hall of Fame: Trip Hawkins

EA, 3DO and Digital Chocolate founder looks forward

Hall of Fame: Trip Hawkins

Starting out in simple monochrome in the days of Snake and WAP, the past decade has seen the mobile games industry kaleidoscope into a glorious, multi-billion dollar sector that's driving global innovation.

So it's high time we celebrate some of the people who helped make that journey possible - something PocketGamer.biz will be doing in its regular Mobile Gaming Hall of Fame feature.

You can read our previous articles here.

Trip Hawkins joined Apple to work with founders [Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak] when it had only 25 office workers and helped grow the company to 4,000 employees. He founded EA in 1982, introducing many fundamental strategies and business practices to the game industry, and was the creative and production force behind EA Sports.

He later founded 3DO, a pioneering digital media platform; and Digital Chocolate where he led the company to deliver more than 200 million mobile app downloads and billions of game sessions. He developed and produced several games with software artists that are now in various halls of fame, and is himself the first and only business executive named to the game industry Hall of Fame by the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences.

He has won multiple Entrepreneur of the Year awards, the Visionary Hall of Fame award from SD Forum, and is the only game industry personage to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the prestigious IEEE.

Currently co-founder and CEO of If You Can Company, a maker of educational games, he also advises game and tech companies including Kixeye, NativeX and Extreme Reality 3D.

Trippin' through time

Pocket Gamer: What were your favourite games as a kid?

Trip Hawkins: Strat-O-Matic football and baseball; Stratego; RISK; the horse racing game, Win, Place and Show (and a bit later, Axis and Allies and D&D).

When did you realise you wanted to make games as a career?

It was when I was about 13 and began to really understand why games were such a fabulous platform for fantasy, imagination and learning. I then began to study games much more closely and realized I could improve designs.

What was your first role in the industry? How did that turn out?

When I was a teenager, I designed and published a card, dice and board game about American football. I borrowed $5,000 from my father and lost every penny but learned more from that experience than I did from a year in college.

What do you consider your first significant success?

That first football game was praised by its customers and I knew it was a quality simulation game - best of its kind.

In terms of the video game industry itself, when I founded EA in 1982 I created a new kind of contract for game developers and pretty quickly signed FreeFall Associates to make Archon and I smelled victory.

Years later at Digital Chocolate I had the same feeling as we were developing Tower Bloxx for mobile.

When did the potential for mobile games become apparent to you?

Around the year 2000 I began to hear about what was going on in Japan with the first data phones and it made total sense to me.

What do you think is the most significant event in mobile gaming?

The invention of the iPhone which was an enormous paradigm shift for games.

To-date, what are you most proud of? Any regrets?

I'm most proud of John Madden Football and High Heat Baseball.

In hindsight, the entire 3DO adventure was impetuous and I would have been better off if I had stayed at EA.

Which mobile games have you most enjoyed recently?

My son and I enjoy Minecraft together. Lately we have had a ton of fun playing the beta version of IF [the first product from If You Can].

What are your predictions for the future of mobile games?

The industry will best leverage the tools of wireless networks and free-to-play apps as we all figure out how to optimize the science of virtual goods economies.

In which area of the industry do you hope to make a difference in future?

Children's education. It is time for serious reform and the correct application of game technology is a necessity.


If you have a suggestion for someone you think should enter our Hall of Fame, please email jonathan [dot] morris [at] steelmedia [dot] co.uk

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at PG.biz which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.

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