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Who are your game industry heroes?

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Who are your game industry heroes?

With the passing of Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, now seems like a good time to reflect on the people who have inspired us in our lives, particularly those in and around games.

As many have said in this past week, the work of Iwata - as a programmer and president - has inspired many, and he probably didn't know how many lives he affected with the joy he brought them.

So this week we asked our Indie Mavens to pick out some of the people who they see as heroes and why, in order to close the gap that exists between them thee inspirations they'd like to thank, if only a little. 

"Who are your heroes and inspirations in the game industry and why?

Why do you look up to them and what have they taught you?"


Constantin Graf Designer Rebus Mind

As I was heavily influenced by Japanese games and especially JRPGs, my biggest heroes are probably Nobuo Uematsu, Shigeru Miyamoto, and Hironobu Sakaguchi.

Even though Nobuo Uematsu 'only' worked on the music in the Final Fantasy games, he was a hero to me after playing Final Fantasy VII. Without his work Final Fantasy wouldn't be what it is and his soundtracks always managed to greatly enhance the atmosphere.

I don't think I have to write much about Shigeru Miyamoto. He's the master of taking a simple, pure idea and creating something unique and concentrated with it. You cannot not admire his talent.

From left to right: Nobuo Uematsu, Shigeru Miyamoto and Hironobu Sakaguchi

And Hironobu Sakaguchi, well, he's not only one of the creators of Final Fantasy, but also created Lost Odyssey some years ago, which shows that he still has it. Also a crazy talented man.

Those might be my biggest heroes, but there are also others (mostly videogame composers), like Miki Higashino, Yasunori Mitsuda, or Hitoshi Sakimoto.

I think music just touches me on a very deep level and since I became a game designer I've been thinking about how I could achieve something like that with my games. Maybe someday I will.


Richard Perrin Owner Locked Door Puzzle

This question makes me feel a little guilty. There are obvious names that come to mind like Shigeru Miyamoto, Hideo Kojima, Warren Spector, and Hidetaka Miyazaki.

However I'm aware that's mainly because these are a handful of people who've been allowed to act as a figurehead for series' I love. I'm certain there's lots of other people who work on games I've loved who never got singled out for the press and fans who I'm sure are equally responsible.

I would definitely thank Terry Cavanagh specifically
Richard Perrin

In truth, I don't think most of what I learned about game design came from specific people, but by playing their games. It's only now I have access to GDCs post mortem videos that I feel like I can actually learn from people about how they made their games and why.

Growing up and learning to make games I had to learn from the games themselves.

However, I would definitely thank Terry Cavanagh specifically. As I was getting started as an indie developer he was a huge help to me giving me lots of great advice and introducing me to people who helped me get where I am.

The helpful Terry Cavanagh

Main thing I learned from him was the value of helping other people who want to make games, and now that's something very important to me.

Mike Rose PR Manager and Developer Relations Ripstone

Unsurprisingly, most of my heroes are indie devs and studios that broke the mold and brought forth the current indie boom.

People like 2D Boy, Andy Schatz, Terry Cavanagh, Steven Lavelle, Hello Games, Markus Persson...

All of these people were so integral in shaping how the "indie space" looks now.

Without these talented people putting themselves out there and making smaller games cool and something a bit quirky, the sheer quality and quantity of great smaller games out today probably wouldn't exist.

Lucy Morris Artist Group Pug

Satoru Iwata, because he wasn't just a great programmer, but also ran his company with good morals, a good ethic, and helped create a lot of the games that were among the first I ever played.

Those in turn were one of the catalysts that got me into the games industry in the first place, and one of the lessons learned from him is that passion is extremely important - he was unafraid to say he was a gamer at heart, and really loved games first and foremost.

Love what you do. Maybe not a personal hero, but definitely an inspiration.

Brenda Romero, because she's an amazing role model for so many reasons - her game designs are innovative, thoughtful and second to none, and her in-depth research in certain aspects of games is something I hold in very high regard.

Brenda Romero (nee Brathwaite) - a role model for many

Being a female game developer, she's one of the people I look up to the most because of her extensive knowledge, success, and the respect she commands in the industry.

... and about a million indie colleagues for reasons varying from their immense resourcefulness, for their perseverance, for building something from nothing and for constantly inspiring each other. You're all great.

Ben Murch Co-Founder Perchang

So many cool people to pick from. Anyone who has the skill to realise their dreams, the courage to follow them, and the fortitude to stay the course, is a person to be looked up to. However, a personal hero can also be someone who put you on the path to where you are now. Here are three of mine that stand out for very different reasons.

Seamus Blackley: This guy is just a legend, I mean, check out his rap sheet. He was one of the founders of Xbox. He was the creator of Trespasser (I'm the rare breed who absolutely loved that game). He worked at Looking Glass. He has a fascinating life story, which Warren Spector grills him on here. Put simply, he puts his thoughts into plans and takes massive risks on them. Love it!

The legendaries Seamus Blackley, Glenn Corpes and Gareth Luke

Glenn Corpes: So, back when I was a mere teenager, I remember reading an article in PC Gamer titled "How to get a job in the Games Industry." They interviewed people from all disciplines of games, one of which was Glenn who wrote about being a programmer at Bullfrog. That whole article really cemented the idea of working in the games industry. He made it sound amazing. And, well, I'm a big fan of amazing! I've since met Glenn and he's a pretty awesome guy too. Hero.

Gareth Luke: More of a personal one. This very loud and very mad Australian was my first producer on my first game in my first job. He really took me under his wing and showed me how the development process worked.

Also, he taught me a bunch of life lessons. Also also, he talked the bosses into paying me (I'd been working as an unpaid intern until that point). We still bump into each other from time to time and he is still the main man. Legend.

Jon Ingold Creative Director Inkle Studios

Jon's focus is on content, working from the initial outline, through the development of the authoring tools, to the writing and scripting of final content.

Previously, Jon was a lead designer at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, and before that a secondary school teacher, so he loves to talk. He's a published author of short stories and over a decade's worth of award-winning interactive fiction.


Jordan Mechner for me: his games are always so clever, tackling head-on the key problems that other games just take as unbreakable assumptions.

Prince of Persia creator Jordan Mechner

Sands of Time was my first game of his I played, and I loved it; the time-rewind was such a perfect solution to the problems faced by twitchy gameplay, and yet they also fitted perfectly into the narrative and the setting of the story.

And then a few years after that I played The Last Express and that cemented it for me. There's a game which is *still* ahead of its time ten years later.

Tanya X. Short Creative Director Kitfox Games

I look up to many game designers and creators that continue to innovate and inspire me. Lately I've been very impressed by Robin Hunicke's explorations into new design paradigms, and her work within the dev community.

It's also hard not to be completely floored by the powerhouse that is Jade Raymond, building up studios and massive franchises across Canada.

Robin Hunicke and Jade Raymond

My classic, from-teenager-hood pantheon of game designers is Miyamoto, Will Wright, and Warren Spector -- not only because they are great craftsmen of design, but also because they have each shown a personal warmth and depth of passion, as people.

Kepa Auwae Business / Design RocketCat Games

Anna Anthropy's writing probably were the final push to get me into game development.

Especially since I decided to make them with no games industry education or experience. She has a pretty strong message of "anyone can make a game."

Ian Sundstrom Designer Ian Sundstrom

I'm very inspired by Michał Marcinkowski's games. Soldat had a huge influence on me growing up. It was a tightly designed 2D shooter with perfect game feel that blew every modern, 3D FPS out of the water in terms of fun.

Soldat - with creator Michał Marcinkowski

That it was developed by one person and released as freeware was incredibly inspiring. From that I internalized the lesson that a great game could still be a success without state-of-the-art technology. His recent release, King Arthur’s Gold, is an equally impressive title that exudes fun but also continues to crush it on game feel and balanced design.

I also get a lot of influence from board and card game designers. Richard Garfield is perhaps my all-time favorite designer. Magic the Gathering is obviously a timeless game.

But other games such as Netrunner, RoboRally, and more recently Sol Forge, have also influenced me. In addition, he is a pretty thoughtful speaker; when he talks about design or mechanics in interviews or lectures his words are consistently insightful.

Justin Smith Developer Justin Smith

Tim Hartnell is the guy who wrote a bunch of those type-in BASIC code listing books that introduced me to programming.

Jeff Minter makes the craziest games of all and showed everyone how to be indie before there was such a word.

Greg Zeschuk gave me my first job and thus made all my dreeeams come truuuue.

With an affinity for eccentricity, as well as anything macabre or just plain weird, Chris searches for the games that fly under the radar. If you ask him, anything can be a game. Oh, and a game can be about anything, if you put enough thought into it. So, there.