With the video game industry worth over $18 billion in 2017, and with the profusion of funding sites such as Kickstarter and Indiegogo, it’s little wonder that small and large gaming companies alike are churning out a ton of titles. But as we steam ahead with production and development, and before titles such as Call of Duty and Battlefield rose to prominence, it’s important to remember where these games came from, and the luminaries who changed the video game industry with their groundbreaking work.
Below, we’ll look at some of the legends who have shaped and changed the landscape of video games into what it is today.
To say Markus “Notch” Persson hit the big time is an understatement, he hit the absolute giant time. The Swedish games designer founded a company called Mojang, and their best creation was Minecraft, easily the most popular sandbox game in the world right now with well over 100 million users. The game’s distinct graphics and customizable gameplay made it a huge hit with all ages, but especially kids. It’s so popular that many people eschew playing solo and choose to join servers to build incredible worlds. Though, others prefer to call the shots with their own server, by learning how to set up a private one and letting in only those they trust.
Things took a different turn for Persson in 2014 when he sold Mojang to Microsoft for a staggering $2.5 billion. Microsoft has definitely taken Minecraft to new heights, but Persson has kept a relatively low profile since the sale, and has actually said that all the money didn’t bring him happiness.
Kojima was responsible for a series some people out there may have heard of, one that started with a little game that goes by the name of Metal Gear Solid. The interesting thing is that Kojima never intended to get into video games – it was merely a side hobby, while his true passion lay in film and storytelling. It’s no wonder then that when Konami took him on and handed over Metal Gear’s development that the game’s narrative took on a more Hollywood-esque slant.
After the success of MG, Kojima went over to design numerous other titles, including the tech-noir inspired Snatcher, Policenauts, as well as the various sequels to Metal Gear, the latest of which, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, was released in 2015. That same year, Kojima left Konami and started his own company, Kojima Productions, which is set to release the eagerly-anticipated Death Stranding for PlayStation 4.
Having worked on and had a hand in StarCraft, World of Warcraft, Warcraft III, Diablo and several other laudable titles, it’s safe to say that Chris Metzen was a veritable powerhouse of creative gaming energy for Blizzard. Having started at the company when he was only 19, Metzen was thrown straight into the deep end, contributing artwork to Warcraft: Orcs and Humans before achieving a greater development license in the Warcraft follow-up, Tides of Darkness. He eventually became the creative director on Warcraft 3: Reign of Chaos, a role which he would hold for most of the subsequent Blizzard games he worked on before retiring in 2016.
“Gotta Catch ‘Em All!” is a slogan everyone who grew up with a Game Boy remembers from childhood. And for good reason; Pokémon was one of the most popular games for the handheld console. Inspired by his childhood hobby of collecting insects, Tajiri saw a way to merge his passions for gaming and entomology, which allowed future generations to become Pokétrainers. The initial games, Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue, took six years to complete and almost bankrupted his company, Game Freak, in the process. In that time Tajiri didn’t take a salary, opting to put all his money back into the game. We’re sure children everywhere in the 90s rejoiced at his steadfast dedication to one of the biggest franchises of all time.