Carmack. Sweeney. Cliffy B. Gabe Newell. Will Wright. Shigeru Miyamoto. Cevat Yerli. And even, John Romero. In my 15 years working in the gaming industry these are the game developers whose names have been revered, heralded and extoled. And deservedly so – they are all great minds in gaming.
But one guy that never gets mentioned in this crowd is a developer I first met at a wrap-up dinner for one of our Editor’s Days many years ago. I spotted a nerdy-looking guy quietly holding court in the corner, deck of cards in hand. I made my way over and discovered a likeable guy with a great sense of humor and a very approachable demeanor. He engaged everybody that came by: our CEO, his competition, the waiter and even me, the PR guy. Regardless of stature or status, everybody got to pick a card or have a coin pulled from their ear.
He wasn’t doing it to draw attention to himself. He was doing it because it was fun for him, and funny for the folks that happened by. He even showed me how to do a few tricks, not to spoil the magician’s secrets, but to pass on his craft (which thrilled my kids and their friends as toddlers).
I remember thinking to myself, “This is a genuinely nice guy.”
It may be this likeable personality and unwillingness to draw attention to himself that causes this guy to miss out on all of the “gaming’s greatest minds” lists that have been complied, despite having a resume that would stack up to almost anybody’s.
His work includes creating or porting titles for AAA franchises such as HalfLife, CounterStrike, Brothers in Arms, Borderlands, and Halo: Combat Evolved. Under his watch, this development house has used a wide variety of game engines to create games, including RenderWare, Bungie’s Halo, Unreal 2 and Unreal 3 and others. They have completed games on a ton of game platforms, including the PC, Dreamcast, PlayStation 2, Xbox, PlayStation Portable, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and Microsoft Windows.
He doesn’t carry himself with an air of status. He doesn’t have an entourage or wear leather pants. He doesn’t list his name as part of a game’s title. He just makes fun games, and I think he is horribly underappreciated as a game developer.
So, as we approach the 13-year anticipated release of Duke Nukem Forever, I say put Randy Pitchford on your list. I’m betting that Duke Nukem Forever kicks ass and chews bubble gum….and Randy Pitchford is all out of gum.