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Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play

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For nearly four decades, video games have captured the imaginations and drawn the ire of people around the world. Actors play them. Rappers promote them. Politicians want to control them. Even baseball legends make them. Video games are a cultural crossroads where business, entertainment, and technology converge.

Sales of video games, hardware, and accessories reach upwards of $20 billion every year in the United States alone, and more than two-thirds of American households include video games in their daily lives. In a world that seems overflowing with fortune and success, the vicious truth of this booming industry can be easily forgotten: failure is tradition.

And while there are a few businesses that have withstood the test of time, most startups exit as quickly as they enter. Many firms are outpaced by the explosive worldwide growth and economic realities of the industry. In this groundbreaking anthology, successful founders of entertainment software companies reflect on the challenges and how they survived.

"This is the first time that a history of the video-game industry has been told through the personal stories of the entrepreneurs who pushed the business forward. [...] Gamers at Work is a critical resource for new and experienced business leaders—for anyone who feels unprepared for the demanding and seemingly insurmountable trials ahead of them."
—Peter Molyneux OBE, Creative Director, Microsoft Studios Europe

Featured Interviews

  1. Trip Hawkins, founder of Electronic Arts (Madden NFL)
  2. Nolan Bushnell, cofounder of Atari (Pong)
  3. Wild Bill Stealey, cofounder of MicroProse Software (Sid Meier's Civilization)
  4. Tony Goodman, cofounder of Ensemble Studios (Age of Empires)
  5. Feargus Urquhart, cofounder of Obsidian Entertainment (Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II)
  6. Tim Cain, cofounder of Troika Games (Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura)
  7. Warren Spector, founder of Junction Point Studios (Disney Epic Mickey)
  8. Doug & Gary Carlston, cofounders of Broderbund Software (Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?)
  9. Don Daglow, founder of Stormfront Studios (Neverwinter Nights and Tony La Russa Baseball)
  10. John Smedley, cofounder of Verant Interactive (EverQuest)
  11. Ken Williams, cofounder of Sierra On-Line (King's Quest and Leisure Suit Larry)
  12. Lorne Lanning, cofounder of Oddworld Inhabitants (Oddworld)
  13. Chris Ulm, cofounder of Appy Entertainment (FaceFighter and Trucks & Skulls)
  14. Tobi Saulnier, founder of 1st Playable Productions (Kung Zhu and Yogi Bear)
  15. Christopher Weaver, founder of Bethesda Softworks (The Terminator and The Elder Scrolls)
  16. Jason Rubin, cofounder of Naughty Dog (Crash Bandicoot and Uncharted)
  17. Ted Price, founder of Insomniac Games (Spyro and Jak & Daxter)

Takeaways

  • Lead and execute strategy as an entrepreneur
  • Develop meaningful, long-term business relationships
  • Recognize strategic opportunities and threats
  • Take the next step without compromising principles
  • Balance dreams with practical considerations
  • Avoid the pitfalls that can trigger disaster
  • Learn from mistakes and make informed course corrections
  • Enter with style and exit with grace

Audience

  • Software professionals and managers, usually working in the video game industry
  • Game developers and publishers interested in starting and running successful companies
  • Gamers interested in the history of video games and the industry
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