Making a video game takes a whole team of people. Everyone, from the director down to the testers, plays a vital role in turning out a quality product. There are coders, artist, voice actors, and a slew of other people, all working together towards a common goal of putting a quality video game to market, and achieving success in both critical acclaim, and sales.
However, with most video games there is one person who leads the development. Their ideas are what pushes everything forward, and their leadership and motivation are what keeps a team together and moving towards their common goals. Some of these leaders rise to top as the best of the best and some of their ideas have gone on to completely change the history of video games. These are those people. Without these visionaries, I shudder to think where gaming might be today.
Making a list of influential people in video games without including Miyamoto would be a travesty against gaming, and really, a travesty against humanity. One could easily make the argument that he is largely responsible for video games, at least as we know them today. After all, he is the man responsible for Mario, the highest selling video game franchise in history.
Not only did Mr. Miyamoto bring us Mario, which would be enough of an accomplishment by itself, but he is also the visionary responsible for Zelda. The Legend of Zelda was the game that took role-playing games and made them popular. Before Zelda, RPGs were a very niche genre, but after Link started running around hacking bad guys to bits, they became much more popular.
Shigeru Miyamoto’s contributions to the platformer and RPG genre, and his overall importance to Nintendo as a company, are on another level. Without his vision, video games might be in whole different place today. He is a living legend in the world of video games, and more accurately, in the world in general.
Hideo Kojima makes the list because of his contributions to making games more cinematic. His major series, Metal Gear, brought cut scenes in games to a level not before seen. He showed no fear in making a major part of his game not actually playing the game.
Metal Gear Solid 2 is one of my favorite video games of all time. A major reason for that is not the game play, but the over the top story that was told through incredible cut scenes. Kojima realized that the story he wanted to tell over the course of the Metal Gear games could not be told using only game play. He realized that he had to take cut scenes, and push them to the limit to make the game he wanted to make, and that is exactly what he did.
People often forget that the first Metal Gear came out in 1987, and was one of the first stealth action games. While he may have blown up on the PlayStation, his contributions extends all the way back to the early days of gaming.
John Carmack’s contributions are felt every time you turn on a modern console, even if you do not realize it. He is the man who is largely responsible for taking video games into the world of 3D. He is one of the most technically skilled video game developers in history. The engines he created at id Software showed the world that video games could be more than just side scrolling platformers.
On top of his advances from a technological standpoint, he is also the godfather of the modern first person shooter. Shooters from id like Doom, Wolfenstein and Quake moved video gaming forward in a way that not many others have. After all, first person shooters are by far and away the most popular genre, with games like Call of Duty making $650 million in the first week. Without John Carmack, we can only imagine where first person shooters would be.
John Carmack’s contributions extend into the world of user-modified games as well. His advocacy of the “mod scene” was clear in his games, and still is in id games today. Other developers took after Carmack, and whole games have been built from mods to existing games. Counter Strike and Battlefield 2 were mods of Half Life and Battlefield 1942 respectively. Without John Carmack pushing this so much there might be no Counter Strike and no Battlefield 2, and a world without those games is a world I do not want to live in.
Will Wright is one of the few video game creators to bring gaming to masses. The Sims is one of the bestselling video game franchises in history, and the target market for the game is not the people who run out and pick up Call of Duty on launch day. Wright found a way to reach into the casual gamers’ pockets long before Nintendo’s Wii dug in.
Will Wright thought about video games a little differently than most people in the late 80s. Instead of thinking about winning and losing, or dying and surviving, Will Wright thought about just playing. He thought of games as toys, as shown by the original Sim City. Instead of trying to “beat the game”, Will Wright realized there were people who just wanted to play a game for fun.
Between Sim City, The Sims and a ton of other creative and innovative games, Will Wright is one of the most important people in video games, and his contributions are still felt today.
The world of video games is constantly changing and evolving, and people like these four are the reasons why. These creative and technical geniuses are a large reason video games have come as far as they have.
Who do you think are the most important people in history of video games? Let us know in the comments.