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Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

Jonathan Lester
Alan Titchmarsh, Angels, Bobby Kotick, Demons, Dr. Mick Donegan, Gabe Newell, Jack Thompson, John Carmack, John Romero, Michael Pachter, Mike Bergenstjema, Randy Pitchford

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 and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

Angels with dirty faces: Honourable Mentions

  • Cliffy B
  • Peter Molyneux
  • Keiji Inafune

5: John Carmack

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

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

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

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

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

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

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

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

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

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.

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

The Lost but not Damned: Dishonourable Mentions

  • Michael Atkinson
  • Peter Molyneux
  • Steve Ballmer

Demon 5: Jack Thompson

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

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

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

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

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

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

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

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

Angels and Demons: Top Ten Industry Heroes & Villains!

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!

Add a comment5 comments
Mitch  Dec. 23, 2010 at 13:05

Mike Bergenstjema? There are much more deserving people out there. There has been many a time when I've seen this guy being nasty to someone and just kicked off on one on the AppHub forums.


Jonathan Lester  Dec. 23, 2010 at 13:10

I think being passionate about XBLIG quality makes for the odd rant against avatar apps every now and again.

Mitch, this is an opportunity to give a shout out to your personal XBLIG heroes!

QuimbyRBG  Dec. 23, 2010 at 14:11

Before even reading "Mitch" 's comment, I felt it necessary to give you guys a big thumbs up for including Dr Mistry (AKA Mike Bergenstjema) on this list - with out him, Bob Taco Ind, George Clingerman, and then rest of the XBLIG specific angels, the world would certainly be a darker place.
And [email protected]&% Alan Titchmarsh; The blonde chick on that show makes my blood boil. Need... Kill... Stuff...

DrMistry  Dec. 24, 2010 at 01:50

Hi Mitch,

I have to say I agree - there are indeed others in the XBLIG community who are deserving of recognition and praise. I'm as prone to "kicking off" as anyone (maybe more!) but I always try to be honest. I'm passionate about giving smart, fun and high quality indie games a fair crack of the whip, and sometimes I get a little too hot under the collar, but I'm only human. I'm sorry if you feel I'm nasty, but I honestly do try to be as helpful, positive and supportive as I can be. But let's take the chance to give some props to other community members who are just as worthy - if not more so!

RadianGames has produced some really brilliant shooters and if you want to learn about superb game design, give any of the RadianGames titles a try. Also, Xona Games have really added something to the service with the Decimation games and Score Rush. Hypership Out Of Control, by FunInfused Games is an absolute belter of a game, and I really should mention Break Limit - it's a really superb idea for a game, brilliantly executed and well worth giving Xalterax 80 MSP. And there are dozens of other games worth a look, and dozens of other developers who deserve attention. Let's spend the next year making sure that XBLIG gets the recognition it deserves for it's variety, for the risk that Microsoft have taken, and above all the skill and enthusiasm of hundreds of developers who've decided to test their skills against the toughest crowd around - you damnedable gamers!

Jonathan Lester  Dec. 24, 2010 at 14:01

Yeah, Luke "Radiangames" Schneider and the Doucette Brothers (Xona) were also strong contenders for a place in the list.

Roll on 2011!

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