Believe it or not, not everyone on the planet is as interested in the world of video games as I am. This can be a problem, since I spend an awful lot of time talking about games. Inevitably I bring up one of gaming’s greats and I get nothing but blank stares from the less informed of my associates. It has thus been useful to come up with a few more generally known analogs from other industries to give people an idea of the role a given developer or company plays. At first this was just for the benefit of my less game savvy friends, but it quickly became an interesting thought exercise. Let’s see what I’ve come up with, and see if you agree.
Since we spend every second of every day immersed in it, generally the world of Hollywood provides the most useful examples. Below are a few I’ve found to be fairly effective.
Tim Shafer = Woody Allen
Responsible for some of the most lasting, well remembered comedies of their industry. People would die to work with them, but for some reason they always seem to earn a lot more critical acclaim than money.
Shigeru Miyamoto = Steven Spielberg
Everything they touch turns to gold. The franchise makers. Capable of going from award winning brilliance to shameless cash in and back again, all the while never losing the respect of their peers, and for a darn good reason.
Gabe Newell = Robert Zemeckis
Zemeckis is responsible for Used Cars, Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Forrest Gump. Newell is responsible for Windows, Quake, and Half-Life, and Portal. The men know how to produce quality stuff that ranges from decent to legendary.
John Carmack = Stanley Kubrick
Utter geniuses that have produced a small roster of some of the most technically superb and fundamentally influential creations in their chosen art form.
Cliffy B. = Michael Bay
Over the top, hands-on creators of stuff that is visually stunning, endlessly profitable, and uncompromisingly awesome.
Handy though showbiz can be, there are certain figures in the world of games that are better represented by counterparts outside of Tinseltown.
Edmund McMillen = Frank Zappa
Brilliant, influential, visionary, but just a little too unique and off beat to be truly mainstream.
Valve = Google
Massive companies, oozing with money, but still beloved by the people for their commitment to innovation, quality, and free stuff.
I would say that we have a pretty good cross section of the world of gaming, well represented by their equivalents elsewhere in the entertainment industry. This list should provide enough shorthand descriptions to set even the least interested person on the right track to understanding the video game landscape. That said, it is by no means a comprehensive list. Maybe you out there would like to make your own contributions. Who is the Tom Hanks of the video game world, for instance? What is the closest equivalent to Sony’s game division? We’d love to hear what you’ve got to say. So if you’ve got better analogies or suggestions of gamers or entertainers that we forgot, drop us a line and we’ll do a follow up.