The Top 25 Game Industry Heroes for 2008

The Top 25 Game Industry Heroes for 2008

Welcome to Edge’s 2008 Top 25 Game Industry People of the Year Awards. This is the third year that we’ve collected and presented a list of the 25 people we felt have had the most positive impact on the game industry in the past 12 months.

This year, it’s been tougher than ever to choose the people the editors of Edge feel represent what’s best about the game industry. We received a record number of nominations, and we’ve spent much time and debate, whittling our list to the 25 presented here. Thanks to all of you who sent in nominations.

The people honored here represent all corners of the business – from CEOs and star-name developers to a game-tester and rookie indie developers – but, much more than that, they represent the talent, hard-work and dedication of the teams around them. We hope you’ll enjoy this list and accept it for what it is; an attempt to honor our best and brightest for their work in the past year.

Please do take a look at our previous recipients – as a rule we try to avoid repeating the same names year-after year. Also, feel free to name the people you feel are worthy of recognition in the Comments section.

25. Masahiro Sakurai


Weaving together dozens of talented collaborators into one project.

At the personal request of Nintendo chief Satoru Iwata, Masahiro Sakurai and his independent development outfit Sora agreed to work on Super Smash Bros. Brawl, the third game in a series that Sakurai had overseen. The game was a massive project, utilizing the talents of many contributors, and for this feat of management and co-ordination he deserves a mention, and the fact that SSBB offered so many fresh ideas as well as an entirely satisfying experience.

24. Simon Oliver


Rolling iPhone’s potential in the right direction.

When the iPhone SDK came out everyone got excited. Finally, mobile games would come of age. In reality, iPhone has played host to a bunch of titles ranging from the diabolical to the innovative-but-not-quite-right to the actually enjoyable. Oliver’s game Rolando falls into the later category (PocketGamer scored it a maximum ten) offering a fresh take on the LocoRoco style of fun puzzlers. Guys like Simon are showing the way forward for iPhone, which remains a tremendously interesting platform.

23. Robert Delaware

Game Tester

Speaking up against incompetence and short-sighted cost-cutting.

He was brave enough to talk on the record about the hash that Microsoft had made of its Xbox 360 faulty issues. In September, the tester spoke to VentureBeat’s Dean Takahashi about the issues that Xbox 360 owners had faced, and the inept manner which Microsoft initially went about dealing with the problem. For speaking to the press, Delaware lost his job. But in an era when corporate responsibility appears to rest on perception of wrongdoing, rather than any moral imperative to do right, it’s guys like Delaware (and Takahashi) who sting company managers into action.

22. Jean-Francois Lévesque

Ubisoft Montreal

For pyromania.

Levesque has spent more than a year working on one aspect of Far Cry 2 – the propagation of fire. He didn’t just obsess over the way fire would look in the game, but how it behaves, and how it affects gameplay. In a recent interview he said, “At one point I became literally obsessed — I would meticulously analyze every flame I saw, virtual or real, and my fire behavior issues in the game would keep me awake at night trying to solve them.” Far Cry 2 was one of the most noteworthy games of the year and, probably, any one of the senior players working on this innovative title could have been names in our top 25 – Clint Hocking or Dominic Guay say – but Levesque’s singe-minded devotion to this one aspect of the game marks him out as one to watch.

21. Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel

2D Boy

World of Goo gave WiiWare a genuine masterpiece, and gave us hope for the future of individual creativity.

San Francisco-based indie game studio 2D Boy says it is “making games the old fashioned way – a team of two, no money, and a whole lot of love.” With World of Goo former EA-ites Kyle Gabler and Ron Carmel created a downloadable masterpiece. One reviewer described it as “so stunningly designed, so beautifully illustrated, so precisely programmed, and so completely adorable that any of the greatest development companies in the world would be proud to release it. That this is a tiny indie dev’s first release – it is beyond belief.” This WiiWare title has once again shown that the much-feared end to individual creativity has not arrived just yet.