20 Most Influential People in Gaming: #20 - Brian Crecente
- May 04, 2009 00:00 AM PT
GamePro senior editor Sid Shuman talks to Brian Crecente, founder of Kotaku.com and number #20 on our list of the 20 most influential people in gaming from 1989 to 2009.
Kotaku was a little-known, little-read blog in Gawker Media's online publishing empire until Brian Crecente transformed it into the PR-terrorizing powerhouse it is today. A former reporter for the Rocky Mountain News, Crecente brought investigative grit and a healthy disregard for the rules to the blog's blitzkrieg coverage of video games and gaming culture. The results have been alternately amusing, enraging, enlightening, befuddling, and surprising, but seldom boring. As far as videogame news blogs go, Kotaku is king.
Hallmarks of Brian Crecente: Blitzkrieg approach to game coverage; focus on breaking news and rumor; investigation of gaming communities and culture
Sid Shuman: What game made you want to be a part of the video game business?
I don't know if I'd say I'm part of the video game business, more a fly on its wall. But the game that first got me interested in video games was Pong. My dad bought it at a Sears right before we moved to Thailand. It blew me away. My brother and I would spend hours on our black and white television playing. He always beat me, even when I had the giant paddle.
My number two game is either Little Professor or Game & Watch Donkey Kong.
What's an up-and-coming game developer to watch? Indie, established, or otherwise.
I'm a huge fan of some of the folks coming out of the annual Independent Games Festival: The people at That Game Company, Jonathan Blow and Phil Fish, to name a few. Jonathan Mak really intrigues me, his process is so similar to creating other forms of art.
What was the biggest high point of your career?
I'd like to think I haven't seen my career high point yet. There have been peaks though. The reaction of readers, other websites and the general press, to the situation surrounding our coverage of Sony's Home was particularly heartening.
Being surrounded by like-minded and highly skilled writers and reporters every day makes my job, as long as it can be some days, always a delight. Broadening our approach to video games to try and reach a more mainstream audience is currently the most satisfying thing I do here.
On the flip side, what was a low point in your career?
At the time, quitting my job at the Rocky Mountain News, something I'm very happy I did now, was probably the most professionally frightening thing I've ever done. Well, not counting being shot at. As much as I love what I do, what I think Kotaku stands for, there are still days when I feel that I am not serving some greater purpose, that in the grand scheme of things Kotaku's impact is as ethereal as a page of digital text.
But then Ashcraft tells me to quit my whining.
Make a gaming-related prediction for 2015.I'll make four: Madden 2016, Resident Evil something, Super Mario Video Game, an internet teaming with angry readers questioning, but still buying sequels.
Name your three favorite games of all time.
Space Invaders, Zork, Mr. Do's Castle.
How do you see the art and business of video games evolving over the next year or two?
As a business, it seems that the video game industry is struggling to not fall into the same trap that so limits movies, television, books and music: The high cost of failure. I hope that in the end, creativity wins out and new business models, like the sort Electronic Arts and Activision are playing with, allow big publishing houses to continue to push the envelope and innovate.
Artistically, I think we are entering a fascinating time for video game development. Digital distribution and new platforms, like the iPhone, have made it easier for people to develop and distribute a wild and eclectic variety of titles. I'd like to think that will only improve with time. Eventually, I hope that true art, true expression, the sort that questions the status quo can appear in games without publishers or platform holders bowing to external pressure.
How has the expanded audience of non-traditional players changed your approach to game writing?
Increasingly, I try to find the thing about a game that intrigues me not as a gamer, but as a reader. That's what spurred the critiques we've run looking at Objectivism in BioShock and Montessori's impact on Will Wright's design.
Video games as a subject is an endlessly fascinating topic, not just because it's about how people play, but because it touches on just about everything. As gaming writers we can delve into business reporting, look at education, the medical field, sociology, crime, art, the list goes on and on. As long as we remember to explore things beyond the realm of the creation and consumption of video games there will always be an opportunity to reach a broader, more mainstream audience.
Do you have any words of wisdom for the aspiring young game writers out there?
Write from your heart. Write often. And if your mother tells you she loves you, check it out.