In my early days in games media it was with considerable excitement that I first started to meet and interview some of my most admired game creators. Trying not to be the creepy fanboy type, I’ve only ever asked two creators for autographs – one of them was Yu Suzuki, who I first met when I was just 16. Since then, I’ve met many of the industry’s best creators and execs several times – and these days I tend to cut to the chase!
But meeting gaming’s leaders and innovators is no less enjoyable. There are a few reasons we love doing interviews: they often make for interesting, insightful analysis into what’s going on in the business of making or selling games – both for us as the interviewers, and we hope, for you the reader. Secondly, they’re probably the best way to break exclusive information – if we can convince an interviewee to reveal new details about a project, it can be gold dust. And thirdly, we just enjoy building our little (or now, not-so-little) interview ‘Hall of Fame’.
In celebration of today’s relaunch from what used to be called Kikizo into Video Games Daily, we’ve dug into our archive of around 250 interviews, and whittled down a list of 50 games industry people.
The criteria for selection is like this: firstly, this is purely a personal endeavour, which means only those who I interviewed personally (and in person – or have done so at a prior date, in cases where other staff interviewed them for this site) – are on my list.
Secondly, it should be noted this is not an indication of success, popularity, professionalism, rank in the industry, or anything else other than how much I liked interviewing them, how ‘good’ an interviewee they are, and basically how nice and/or cool I think they are.
The following appear alphabetically by last name…
Chief Experience Officer, Entertainment and Devices Division, Microsoft
Almost mirroring the Xbox consoles’ own improvement in appearance, Allard transformed himself from looking like Prison Break’s Officer Bellick to the sleeker model he became in time for the publicity blitz around Xbox 360 in 2005 – and more importantly, just before our cameras homed in on him for a video interview to mark the occasion. Truth be told, “Face of Xbox” Allard could have turned up looking however he wanted; the great thing about interviewing J is can talk knowledgeably about anything from the intricacies of programming and middleware, to the Xbox Live he pioneered, to the business of Xbox and individual game titles and franchises. J is affable and energetic in his interviews, and it was one of my favourites to do at that year’s E3. We hope Allard returns to the gaming scene at some point in the future.
Video Games Daily Interviews: June 2005, Feb 2003
President, Entertainment & Devices Division, Microsoft
As “Chief Xbox Officer” Robbie Bach is top of the Xbox tree. He directs a global Microsoft division and is responsible for managing the entire Xbox business. While you may assume that a man with such an impressive financial net worth may pass up on the opportunity to sit down with pesky gaming sites, Bach in fact did sit down with us in 2005 ahead of the launch of Xbox 360. Our time with him resulted in a sizable 25 minute video interview, and as I’ve pretty much come to expect with executives from Microsoft’s Entertainment & Devices Division, he was unassuming and open, and yet confident and in control.
Video Games Daily Interview: July 2005
Games industry veteran
One of the four visionaries behind what eventually became “Xbox”, Kevin Bachus left Microsoft in 2001 to start Capital Entertainment Group. At around that time, we met with him to talk about his new venture. Kevin granted us an extensive interview that was pretty revealing and made for a decent read for industry readers and gamers alike. Kevin is a nice guy, and we should probably go find out what he’s up to these days.
Video Games Daily Interviews: Feb 2003, Feb 2004
Game Director, Sony Studio Liverpool
We met Tony Buckley in his role as Game Director for WipEout Pulse at Sony’s Liverpool Studio. A humorous, quiet chap who executes some of the finest F-word usage I’ve ever heard, Tony entered the games industry in 1995 with stints at Digital Image Design and Infogrames, before eventually settling at the Sony family of worldwide studios in Liverpool to head up the WipEout franchise. Tony’s not shy about letting you in on a secret or two, and is basically quite funny, so it was a nice interview.
Video Games Daily Interview: June 2007
Designer, Konami Tokyo
The Wii edition of Pro Evolution Soccer did a fine job of restoring confidence in the PES series, which has had to battle with increasingly stiff competition from the impressive next-gen FIFA games. Alarmingly, last year was the first time we’d met with anyone from the PES development team (we still haven’t got around to meeting Shingo ‘Seabass’ Takatsuka), and back at a time when we’d repeatedly failed to tie down Hideo Kojima since 2001, we really wanted to make a decent impression with Konami on this one. Truth was, Akiyoshi ‘Greyhound’ Chosokabe made for a smooth interview; while Seabass has traditionally done the duties, Greyhound, a veteran of the PES series for over a decade, is less well known – but we think that may not be the case for long, given the successes of Wii PES and the fact that he seems like a lovely chap who should meet with the gaming press more often.
Video Games Daily Interview: April 2008
Founder and President, Silicon Knights
We last met with Dyack as his team was celebrating the end of Too Human’s gargantuan development cycle, but at the same time only just beginning its venture into the Too Human trilogy. Dyack is known for his nonconformist views on the games business. They are issues I was happy to pick his brains further on, and he was very happy to answer. I know Dyack gets a hard time from some areas of the games community sometimes, but I can tell you with certainty he’s a good, passionate guy to sit down and interview.
Video Games Daily Interviews: Aug 2008, Aug 2006
Games industry veteran
I think I first met Ed when he joined us for an interview with Chris and Tim Stamper, the co-founders of a little developer called Rare. Ed seemed like a good guy, but what made me really like him was a few E3s later: Microsoft was showing a 10-minute closed-doors demo of Halo 2, which was by far the hottest thing at the show that year. Absolutely no filming of any kind was allowed for anyone. Except me, apparently. For some reason, Ed decided it was OK for me to film the whole thing, much to the surprise of the US PRs guarding the theatre room, who double (and triple) checked with Ed that he was “sure”. They didn’t exactly get to argue with Ed. Ed was the boss of Microsoft Game Studios and that’s all there was to it! Nobody else had that footage after the show. Like much of the industry and many hardcore gamers, we were surprised in 2004 to learn that Ed – a real gamers’ champion – would be leaving the Xbox management team. One of our best ever video interviews came when we hooked up with Ed again at E3 the year after his departure. The result was a half-hour video interview that offered a packed list of interesting content. An eighteen-year Microsoft veteran, he was in a great position to reflect and look to the future. Looking back at the video, it’s not difficult to see why Ed is still so well liked in the business.
Video Games Daily Interviews: July 2005, Feb 2003
Content Director, Ubisoft Shanghai
Julian Gerighty is Ubisoft Shanghai’s all-round top-bloke. You’re as likely to see him dishing out an interview in fluent French as you are in English – although typically we stick to English. He’s super-helpful and enthusiastic, and really quite excellent at demonstrating titles in a personalised manner (even ones I may not necessarily be fussed about). I’ve met Julian twice, and basically he’s ace.
Video Games Daily Interviews: Oct 2006, Oct 2008
This one was a nice example of an unscheduled interview which relies on two things in order to happen: a polite, professional approach, and an interviewee who’s nice enough to say “sure”. Last year in Paris, Ubisoft boss Yves Guillemot said “sure”. Unless you’re financial or trade press, it can be very difficult to secure formal interview time with people like Yves, so it’s great to know that no matter how big a deal some execs are, they’re happy to speak to journalists who make the effort when it counts. Everyone likes Yves. As Ubi Shanghai’s Julian Gerighty once put it to me: “I wish our boss was NOT such a good guy; it would give us more reason to justify our bitching! But he is such a nice man.”
Video Games Daily Interview: June 2008
Co-founder and Creative Director, Media Molecule
We were first introduced to Healey by his then-boss Peter Molyneux, as he was starting to make a name for himself with Rag Doll Kung Fu – a game he developed “sitting at my kitchen table in my pants”. After leaving Lionhead, Healey teamed up with Alex Evans, David Smith and Kareem Ettouney to form Media Molecule. Although all of these guys deserve a place in the listing following the success of LittleBigPlanet (Smith being the only one we’ve not interviewed), we think it’s front man Healey’s quirky charm that wins him a place in gamers’ hearts, and ours.
Video Games Daily Interview: Sep 2008