You Might Know Me From…

youmightknowOne of the odd things about my career/life to date is that I’ve had a _bunch_ of different – often obscure – side projects, jobs or hobbies. As a result, I do tend to find that people sometimes go ‘oh wait, you’re the guy who did X who also did Y! I liked Y!’ (Or sometimes ‘I hated Y’, but hopefully that doesn’t come up as often :P)

Some of this is covered on the much briefer About page, but actually, quite a lot of it isn’t, so I thought I’d list it all here in more-or-less sequential order, bearing in mind that I don’t do all of these things any more. Click on each of the headings to go to that section of the page:

Amiga (& a little PC) demo-scene musician (1989-1996)
Console/PC video game designer (1996-2003)
Music net.label owner – Mono/Mono211/Monotonik (1996-2009)
Gamasutra contributor/editor/EIC/publisher (1998-date)
Game Developer Magazine editor/publisher (2005-2013)
GameSetWatch founder/co-runner (2005-2011)
Independent Games Festival Chairman, Chairman Emeritus (2006-date)
Indie Royale co-founder/runner (2011-2013)
Game Developers Conference helper/overseer/etc (2005-date)
Video Game StoryBundle curator (2013-date)
MobyGames community lead/co-runner (2013-date)


– Amiga (& a little PC) demo-scene musician (1989-1996):

11077If you don’t know about the demo-scene, that’s OK. As I wrote in  the alt.sys. amiga.demos newsgroup FAQ back in 1996:

“Demos, (short for ‘demonstrations’), are [real-time] executable programs created, purely for art’s sake… perhaps you can think of a demo as a music video on a computer, but with equal emphasis on the visuals, the music, and the code.”

Anyway, the super-comprehensive Janeway database has my full Commodore Amiga demo-scene history (my handle was Hollywood, then h0l), including some appearances that I never even knew existed! And AMP has basically all of my .MOD music files available to grab – use XMPlay on Windows to listen to them.

While I released a bunch of chiptune & other .MODs standalone and in music discs (like Axis’ ‘Chip Squared‘ & even Dual Crew/Shining’s ‘Sonic Attack‘), I also contributed music to a fair amount of demos which now have vids uploaded on YouTube. Axis’ super-abstract 40k intro ‘Headcase‘ is a great example – also see Jetset’s full demo (one whole 880k floppy disk!) ‘Tag‘, plus a co-composition for Digital’s ‘Afternoon‘ and even a Skid Row cracktro.

[After the Amiga, I had a brief dalliance with the PC demo-scene, joining Kosmic & contributing music to Valhalla’s ‘Believe‘ demo, but never got round to making any music on a PC, and stopped creating tunes in 1996, towards the end of my time at university.]

– Console/PC video game designer (1996-2003):

275819-looney-tunes-racing-playstation-screenshot-falling-shieldsAlthough I’d contributed music to one or two small games – including Pandora’s Box on the Acorn Archimedes when I was 16 (!), I was lucky enough to get a game designer position at Kuju Entertainment in 1996 after graduating from university in the UK.

Kuju (formerly Simis, and owned by Eidos Interactive for a while) was graduating from flight sims to game, so the first game I worked on in Guildford was ‘Terracide’, a ‘Descent’-style shooter for the PC that was one of the first 3D hardware-accelerated games.

From there, I headed and lead designed a small team of 6 for ‘Tank Racer’ for the original PlayStation & PC, a Europe-only console release that was sorta a weird melange of a kart racer, Metal Slug, and a tank squash-em-up, and judging by YouTube comments, was largely (but heartily!) appreciated by 5-10 year old kids.

I then moved to the U.S. in 1999 and worked on two titles for Infogrames/Atari and a spinoff studio in San Jose, CA, including my favorite, ‘Looney Tunes Racing’ (pictured above) for the PlayStation, which I lead designed. It’s quite well-reviewed kart racing action which also allowed me to write dialog for Bugs Bunny, Tweety Bird and Granny (voiced by June Foray!), to boot.

(I also worked as the chief designer on Superman: The Man Of Steel for the Xbox, an experience that convinced me to never work with invulnerable superheroes – and that maybe, game design beyond racing games wasn’t really my forte. 😛 That experience – and related ‘crunch’ to get the game done – convinced me to leave the dev side of games.)

– Music net.label owner – Mono/Mono211/Monotonik (1996-2009):

L-731-1228123305.pngFollowing my work making music in the Amiga demo-scene (see above!), I decided in 1996 to take the idea of a music label and apply it to the Amiga .MOD scene – at the time a relatively innovative idea. Releasing a host of electronic ‘tracker’ musicians and .MOD/XM all-stars up to 1999, we then switched the label gradually to .MP3 and you’ll find the results (150+ albums/EPs) easily streaming on the Internet Archive. (We also have a Discogs entry if you want to cross-reference.)

There’s a lot more info about Mono (subsequently called Mono211 and eventually Monotonik) on a special info page on this very domain – and you should check out ’10 Years Of Monotonik: The Mix’ and/or ‘Monotonik Vol.1: The Early Years’ for some good starting points. Some of the rare early .MODs are twinned with .MP3s in these three neat ‘bootlegreleases by a fan, too.

We ended up with millions (!) of downloads and streams of Monotonik tracks over the 13 years it existed, and I was sad to close the label down in 2009, as free music flooded the Internet.  (I was partly to ‘blame’ for this by setting up the Internet Archive Netlabels collection at the Internet Archive, which has over 1700 separate labels in it! Happy to ‘blame’, of course :P)

Though I could ramble on forever, a couple of the individual albums/EPs I would particularly recommend trying out are Aleksi Virta ‘Meets Torsti At The Space Lounge‘, Vim’s ‘A Random Collection Of Consonants‘, ST’s ‘I’ll Meet You There‘, Grandma’s ‘Spinach Gas Room Spaghetti Straps‘, and, gosh, basically everything else.

Even more recently, I’ve been uploading Mono/Monotonik’s old music tracks to YouTube & to Soundcloud for easier streaming access, and Zach Bridier has added a Monotonik entry to his super-canonical Netlabels Archive with MP3 version of all releases and LOTS of rarities.

– Gamasutra contributor/editor/EIC/publisher (1998-date)

gamasutraI’ve actually been writing for video game industry news/community website Gamasutra since 1998 or so, when I was still working as a designer in the game biz. My first piece that I can find is ‘Punch-Kick-Punch: A History of One-on-One Beat-Em-Ups’, which discusses Star Wars: Masters of Teras Kasi slightly more that it should do, but otherwise mainly behaves, heh.

Early on, Gamasutra – launched by Alex Dunne & friends in 1996 – started as a reprint zone for Game Developer magazine with smaller news articles and columns. It was actually member-only when I joined up full-time as an editor in 2004 – here’s a Wayback Machine link to what it looked like then!

Having taken over as the EIC in 2005, I ended up working with Alex and others to bring the site out of ‘member-only’ mode, expand news reporting size and quality significantly, and massively up the amount of high-quality features and interviews. We won a Webby Award in 2006 and again in 2007, and I’m proud of our reputation as a high quality, reliable info source for the ‘art and business/science of games’.

None of this would have been possible without the amazing work of talented editors like Brandon Sheffield, Frank Cifaldi, Chris Remo, Brandon Boyer, Christian Nutt, Leigh Alexander, Kris Graft, Mike Rose, as well as columnists, postmortem writers, and so many more.

Finally, although I’ve moved away from day to day work on the site (to a publisher and now EVP role), I wanted to highlight the work we’ve enabled (and the community has actually done!) on Gamasutra’s blogs over the past 5 or 6 years.

Many still don’t realize that any Gamasutra site member can contribute a blog at any time. And we’ve worked hard to encourage a positive community and promote independent, well-written content – and high quality comments – from developers to developers. I think the results (200+ blogs a month in total!) speak for themselves.

– Game Developer Magazine editor/publisher (2005-2013)
stubbsianWhen I started at Think Services in 2004, I was chiefly working on Gamasutra, but we also owned Game Developer magazine, and since we were in the same office, I quickly got involved.

I ran the magazine as editor/EIC from 2005 to 2007, and then handed over editorship to Brandon Sheffield (and subsequently Patrick Miller!), while I helped out as publisher.

The B2B trade mag was, as Wikipedia notes, “the premier publication for working (and aspiring) video game creators from 1994–2013, reaching over 35,000 industry professionals monthly.”

While the magazine was a bit broader than in its ‘hardcore technical’ heyday, we still got a ton of good columns, postmortems (like Silent Hill 4!) and feedback in there, and I’m super proud of the work we did – shout outs to Jill Duffy, Cliff Scorso, & all of our amazing regular columnists for helping it happen.

Luckily, if you’d like to check out my (and all of my predecessors’) handiwork, we worked hard to make almost every single issue available on PDF for free immediately after the mag’s closing. A fitting way to go out, eh?


– GameSetWatch founder/co-runner (2005-2011)

gswbbyeAround the time that I was running Gamasutra and Game Developer, I decided that I needed _more_ challenge, so I set up GameSetWatch, an ‘alt.gaming weblog’ that rounded up interesting things about games nobody else was covering – and also had a bunch of dedicated columns.

We started out with a crew that included Brandon Boyer (now IGF Chairman), Michael McWhertor (who went on to Kotaku & Polygon), and Frank Cifaldi (subsequently Gamasutra, Other Ocean), & I wrote a _LOT_ for the site in its early, hyperactive days.

By the time the darn thing closed in 2011, we’d been through 6 years of awesome and weird writing about games, tho I’d stepped back 2 or 3 years before we shut up shop – read that closing blog for lots of detail. Perhaps we were sometimes a bit wilfully obscure – and there was no real business model there. But it was a heck of a lot of fun!

Actually, I sometimes forget how many great writers got their start writing for pay with a GSW column – I noted at the time: “Some of the standouts include John Harris’ @Play, which is practically the Roguelike bible, as well as Kevin Gifford’s Game Mag Weaseling and, of course, Game Time With Mr. Raroo.”

But there’s more – the regular editors like Eric Caoili (TinyCartridge!) and Danny Cowan (nowadays at Joystiq) did a great job, Leigh Alexander’s Aberrant Gamer was excellent, there was a great column from IF legend Emily Short running for a while – you get the idea. Go check out the archives and enjoy, if you haven’t already…

– Independent Games Festival Chairman, Chairman Emeritus (2005-date)

IGF_2010_SizzleAfter joining UBM in 2004, I fairly rapidly got involved with the Independent Games Festival – a competition for indie video games, with awards handed out at the Game Developers Conference.

The IGF was already up and running, having been founded back in 1999 by Alex Dunne & friends – and a super-important way to publicize and honor the then-burgeoning indie games scene – and it was an still is an awards show that’s judged by the community, for the community.

In 2005, when I was co-chair, we had IGF winners like Gish, the pre-Super Meat Boy project co-created by Edmund McMillen. Over the next few years (with me acting as IGF Chairman), a ‘golden age’ of indie saw projects like World Of Goo, Darwinia, Braid, Crayon Physics, Limbo & even Minecraft win major awards.

An interview Tale Of Tales conducted with me back in 2007 captures some of the zeitgeist of what I thought re: IGF/indies at the time: “I think what we need is more personal games. Personal games may not have overarching stories, and may not necessarily have a message, and they may just be mindless and fun! But they are what the game creator intended to make, based on his personal vision.”

Having handed over the Chairman hat (spoiler: there’s no hat) to Brandon Boyer in 2010, and now on to Kelly Wallick in 2016, I’ve stayed abstractly involved in the awards from afar as Chairman Emeritus. (I still help oversee GDC as a whole, including the Indie Games Summit, the two-day sister event to IGF that I co-founded in 2007.)

The ‘Cambrian explosion’ of indies making those ‘personal games’ has meant that IGF is a radically different beast from a decade ago. But I still think it’s an effective mirror of the titles that indie devs find the most moving and delightful – whether smashingly commercial or just an evocative, interesting game.


– Indie Royale co-founder/runner (2011-2013)

Some time in 2011, after I’d seen Humble Bundle launch its first 2 or 3 independent game bundles, I asked myself a question – why wasn’t anyone else trying these indie bundle things?

So I reached out to Scott Reismanis at Desura, who had the back end chops to make it happen, and a couple of months later, we launched the first Indie Royale digital PC game bundle.

At the time, I said: “We wanted to help smaller indies sell more copies of the sometimes underappreciated games that we thought were cool, high quality and worthy. And we realized that you need a targeted pitch to break through the susurrus of digital video game stores – which are all over the Internet right now.”

Of course, a few years later, the game bundle landscape is a LOT more saturated. But I’m proud of some interesting things Indie Royale did around dynamic price changes (people can pay more money to drop the price for everyone!), and particularly the careful curation – from myself, John Polson, Mike Rose and others – of _interesting_ games.

My share of Indie Royale was owned by UBM – since I devised it on their watch – but we ended up divesting it to Tenshi Ventures in 2013, largely due to things like GDC needing to take priority. The net result was over 500,000 bundles and more than 2.5 million games sold on my watch, and  ‘The (Magnificent) 7 Lessons from Indie Royale’ sums up my view of our time operating the site.

In short, Indie Royale was a heck of a lot of fun, and it really helped some notable game creators signal/revenue boost as indies. But bundling is a double-edged sword in today’s saturated market, and I think IR was early enough to matter to people, and certainly had

– Game Developers Conference helper/overseer/etc (2005-date)

gdc-show-floor-02Obviously, this is part of my core day job in the same way that helping with Black Hat is, but I’m splitting my Game Developers Conference work out cos, tho Meggan Scavio is the ‘bosslady’ for GDC, I continue to be involved in organizing the show.

I first attended Game Developers Conference back in 1998 or so (when I lived in the UK!), and since 2005 I’ve gradually upped my participation – largely behind the scenes – with the show as it’s grown (from 8,000-ish people in 1998 to 26,000 people in 2015!)

The Indie Games Summit is the area I’m particularly hands on with, alongside our capable advisors, but myself, Meggan and others have also worked on developing all of the GDC Summits over the past few years ago, & helping GDC get a great quality submission/ratings system – courtesy of Matthew Wegner.

We’re also constantly working with our Advisory Board on listening and integrating feedback, helping to administer and run the Game Developers Choice Awards yearly, growing diversity and the Advocacy Track, and sharing recordings of the content on GDC Vault – lots to do, and lots still to do!


– Video Game StoryBundle curator (2013-date)

bundle_48_cover-47c2da5bd5e950a2fa49a49249568d7cAfter I finished up my participation in Indie Royale in 2013, I was itching for something else to do, but game bundles weren’t really on the menu. But bundling was (and is!) a really interesting area for curation.

So I ended up reaching out to Jason Chen at Storybundle, a DRM-free eBook bundling site, and offering to pick awesome video game-related books for him.

The fruits of that appeared in May 2013, when the Video Game Storybundle launched, “10 DRM-free game culture/history eBooks, going for a song”, including authors like Prince Of Persia creator Jordan Mechner & video game legend Ralph Baer.

And it did _really_ well, with thousands of bundles sold and happy authors all round. Since then I’ve curated several other well received video game eBook bundles – including ones with bundled music albums & all kinds of other neatness. (Plus a couple of non-game ones, including Dr. Who and nerd history-themed outings!)

We’ve collectively made hundreds of thousands of dollars for our authors’ books about the history, culture, & nature of video games. (Our partnership with the excellent Boss Fight Books has been especially fruitful, and there’s multiple GoodReads lists if you missed ’em & want to check out the other bundles’ books – full list here!)


– MobyGames community lead/co-runner (2013-date)

mobygames-logo-bgAs I explained in a blog post in late 2013, another side project I’m involved in is co-running video game history database MobyGames. As I noted at the time:

MobyGames – originally founded by Jim Leonard, Brian Hirt, and David Berk in 1999, was acquired by GameFly in 2010. But as of December 18, 2013, San Francisco-based Blue Flame Labs has acquired the site – and reverted it to its previous design (following a couple of months of an attempted website update which didn’t go so well).”

So yep, I’m so happy that we managed to ‘save’ the site from what I think would have been a swift-ish decline. The key folks involved in the site now (besides the admins, approvers and contributors who continue to be key!) is Blue Flame Labs owner Reed – who is a designer/coder who’s created sites like Drawception, VGBoxArt, and a number of other volunteer/contract coders, with help from me as co-director and community lead.

We have now zoomed past 100,000 game SKUs. While Wikipedia, GiantBomb and other sites have a lot of amazing data too, the depth of credits, covers, and cross-referenced format data for video games classic and modern can’t be beat. And we have a lot more work to do in making it even better – hurray!