2010 has brought us our fair share of unforgettable gaming heroes and villains... but the real world has provided us with an even more exciting motley crew. Our industry is dominated by larger than life characters and epic battles of good vs evil; so before this year comes to an end, it's time to take a look at the top ten gaming industry figures. And subject them to judgement.
Angels with dirty faces: Honourable Mentions
- Cliffy B
- Peter Molyneux
- Keiji Inafune
5: John Carmack
It takes a big man to brag about games to the media, but it takes an absolute legend to quietly soldier on with crafting exceptional technology. id Software's omniscient savant has been hard at work creating id Tech 5 and introducing us to the glorious Megapixel... and in his spare time, managed to get it running on an iPhone 4. Just because he was bored. John Carmack is mild-mannered, polite, enthusiastic and a GOD; easily deserving his place on the list.
4: Mike "Dr Mistry" Bergenstjema
You don't have to be a slick executive or a multi-millionaire to be a gaming angel. Despite being a hardworking independent developer with another day job, MStar Games' Mike Bergenstjema is always willing to lend a hand and offer advice to other Xbox Live Indie developers as well as stalwartly championing the undersung service at every opportunity. I've received numerous reports of him stepping in and going the extra mile to help games pass peer review and assist with other people's coding problems- which makes him an angel in our book.
It's been a great year for XBLIG- and with developers like Mike on the scene, we've no doubt that 2011 will be an absolute blinder.
3: Gabe Newell
Good ol' Gabe was always going to make an appearance. Valve's co-founder may be a cynical emergent tycoon, but he continually demonstrates unique kindness and charm despite constantly missing release dates. Well, nobody's perfect. Hiring loads of aspiring coders and putting them to work demonstrates that he recognises and awards upcoming talent (just look at Turtle Rock)... and he's more than willing to lumber onstage and open up their wares to Sony fans and Macintosh users alike. Nice one Gabe.
2: Randy Pitchford
Gearbox's CEO brightens up our day every time he opens his big mouth. Whether he's taking over Duke Nukem Forever, ripping the piss out of Michael Pachter or loudly lambasting Valve's emergent monopoly, he delivers a friendly and interesting take on the state of our industry (as well as unfailingly great games). Plus, he's a blast to hang out with, so I'm told.
Gearbox have had a thoroughly stonking year, and with Randy at the helm, we've no doubt that they'll continue to deliver great games with serious personality. And they aren't going to take crap from anyone.
ArchAngel: Dr. Mick Donegan
Have you heard of SpecialEffect? They're a charity that's committed to making videogames accessible to the handicapped- and have been pouring huge amount of money into developing some incredible technology. They've been responsible for some huge technological advances (including powerful retina-controlled input software) and their boss, Dr. Donegan, has been working tirelessly to promote their work and help disadvantaged children.
SpecialEffect has just opened the world's first accessible gaming suite in a UK children's hospital, and we wish them every success. Bravo, Dr. Donegan. We salute you.
The Lost but not Damned: Dishonourable Mentions
- Michael Atkinson
- Peter Molyneux
- Steve Ballmer
Demon 5: Jack Thompson
Jack Thompson was gaming's Mr Nasty for a long time, bringing lawsuits against game companies and drumming up support for abolishing violent games.
So why isn't Jack Thompson higher on the list? Because he's pathetic, that's why. His legal firm lies in ruins, his reputation is in tatters and his words carry no weight regardless of how loud he shouts them. If he was a demon, he'd be a tiny troll with a blunt puny pitchfork. And if there's any justice, he'll have contracted terminal hemorrhoids before you finish reading this article.
Demon 4: John Romero
Here's a classic blast from the past, but we've just gotta put him in. John Romero is rightly revered for his work on Doom and Quake when he worked for id Software, but ego problems caused him to quit and start crafting one of the worst games of all time out of purest shite.
Sorry, but no amount of wailing and rending of garments can properly express how noxious Daikitana was... and recent reports of being tied to casual shovelware aren't helping matters. Truly, some demons fall from grace.
Demon 3: Michael Pachter
Okay Mr. Pachter. There's no denying that you make some great judgement calls on unseen shareholder reports and valuations, but delusions of celebrity has made a real demon out of you. Constant incorrect observations, blatant scaremongering and transparent trolling have all led to a huge amount of misery and unnecessary fanboyism over this last year; more than earning your place in this list.
If we ignore you, will you go away?
Demon 2: Alan Titchmarsh
What's a gardener doing on the list? For demonizing a medium, art form and entire community that he doesn't understand. Mr Titchmarsh decided to lead a misguided crusade against gaming on his inane talk show, suggesting it's responsible for any multitude of sins. You know, despite the fact that bad parenting is responsible for bad kids every time. Roger Ebert missed out on this place by the skin of his teeth... but at least he actually had a little humility and the faintest idea of what he was talking about.
Do us a favour and stick to the gardening, Alan.
Cacodemon: Bobby Kotick
You knew this was coming. Activision's reviled CEO was always going to top this list... but there have been moments when I've almost empathised with himthis year. He's just a businessman after all. Maybe West and Zampella were in breach of contract? Maybe Infinity Ward didn't deserve their bonuses? Maybe Harmonix weren't worth the tiniest shred of basic respect and decency? Maybe...
... and then I black out, waking up 24 hours later covered in the blood of a freshly-slaughtered game studio. Chilling stuff. Only time- and his actions- will decide whether Mr. Kotick's appalling reputation can be changed.
Want to shout out to your own personal gaming angels and demons? Wanna quibble about the order? Have your say in the comments!