The elite executives and creative professionals of the video game industry gathered at the Dice Summit in Las Vegas this week to talk about the art and business of video games. We posted videos and stories during the week about the various talks. Here’s the story in pictures from the summit and the Interactive Achievement Awards, which are the Oscars of the game industry.
For the fifth year in a row, comedian Jay Mohr hosted the Interactive Achievement Awards. He made a lot of jokes about the length of the awards, but his long monologue, laced with profanity, certainly stretched it out. The show will air on the Independent Film Channel.
Hosts of G4TV‘s X-Play show Adam Sessler and Morgan Webb walked the red carpet before the award show and played to the paparazzi. Their show remains the most popular daily video game show on TV.
Doug Lowenstein retired from the top job at the Entertainment Software Association in 2006. But he returned to accept the Lifetime Achievement award from the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences.
Randy Pitchford, co-founder of Gearbox Software, got a chance to tell the story of his development studio, which hit the big time this fall with Borderlands, an original game that is on its way to selling three million copies. On his desk, Pitchford keeps a framed dollar bill, which was the first his company earned and is a reminder that his company is in business to make money as well as great games.
Richard Garriott and his guest, Laetitia Pichot de Cayeux, walked the red carpet. After taking off to travel in space to the International Space Station, Garriott announced at Dice that he had co-founded a new company, Portalarium, to make a social game platform and publish games on Facebook. He considers it to be his third major move in games, after starting Origin Systems and making massively multiplayer online games like Ultima Online.
Mark Cerny of Cerny Games was inducted into the Interactive Achievement Hall of Fame for his decades-long career in games. He has helped make more than 30 games ranging from his first title, Marble Madness, to Ratchet & Clank.
Joseph Olin is the president of the AIAS and organizer of the Dice Summit. He foresees a big year in traditional hardcore games yet also believes that social games are beginning to change the industry (we’ll post an interview with him soon).
Mark Skaggs was creative director on FarmVille. He and other members of the Zynga team were on hand to collect the first-ever award for best social game.
The top guys on Ubisoft’s Assassin’s Creed II game included writer Corey May (left) and creative director Patrice Desilets.
Greg Zeschuk of BioWare was on hand to give a toast to his company’s twin blockbusters, Dragon Age Origins and Mass Effect 2.
Jay Cohen is the president of development of Jerry Bruckheimer Games. He spent 13 years at Ubisoft but left to start Bruckheimer’s new game studio eight months ago. He said the company is knee-deep in research on its first games. You can expect them to have a definite Hollywood influence.
The team of thatgamecompany took home the prize for best casual game for their work on Flower, the dazzling PlayStation Network game where you play the wind in the dream of a flower in a decaying city. Accepting the award is Kellee Santiago. Creative director Jenova Chen is on the far left.
Last year, Jennifer MacLean became CEO of 38 Studios, whose founder is retired Red Sox baseball star Curt Schilling. They’re busy working on Copernicus, a massively multiplayer online game.
Brian Reynolds, chief designer at Zynga, offered tips on how to create hit social games, but he drew groans when he skipped a slide on how to make money doing so.
The team at Naughty Dog that made Uncharted 2: Among Thieves took home 10 awards, including Game of the Year. Richard Lemarchand, lead designer, on the far left, gave a talk on how the company organizes itself in a way that pushes leadership down into the team members. There are no producers at Naughty Dog.
Rob Pardo, left, of Blizzard Entertainment poses at the opening night party with Chris Taylor, founder of Gas Powered Games. Taylor joked that the photo would be a nice contrast of a guy who makes a lot of money and a guy who doesn’t.
Rajesh Rao, chief executive of Dhruva Interactive, came all the way from India. His company has been making outsourced games for a wide variety of clients for many years. You’ll recognize Dhruva’s handiwork in the cars in the Forza Motorsport games.
Steve Wadsworth, head of Disney Interactive Media, gave the opening keynote at Dice. He talked about how Disney is making a big move into cross-platform games and, in a Q&A afterward, noted how he admired the Apple iPad and was making content for it.
Graham Hopper, head of Disney Interactive Studios, said that his teams are launching a bunch of cool games this year, ranging from the Split Second racing game to Tron Evolution and Epic Mickey.
Jesse Schell, a professor of game design at Carnegie Mellon University and head of Schell Games, gave the best talk at Dice. He discussed real-life games beyond Facebook.
John Schappert, chief operating officer at Electronic Arts, offered five tips on how to surmount the game industry’s challenges. Among them: don’t get too excited about the social gaming bubble.
Mike Yuen of Zeebo talked about how the gaming market is expanding into emerging markets. Zeebo has launched its own low-cost, 3G-enabled game console in the Brazilian and Mexican markets. He said sales took off in December and January, though he did not disclose actual numbers.
Greg Short, president of EEDAR, estimated that in 2011, the number of digital online games — such as downloadable PlayStation Network games — will outnumber console games launched in retail stores in the U.S. This year, he estimates 155 games will come out on the Xbox 360, 265 on the Wii, 150 on the PlayStation 3, and 535 on digital online platforms.
Darksiders was one of the original titles of January that made a big splash. The game, published by THQ and developed by Vigil Games, has sold more than a million units so far. Joe Madureira, creative director, and Daivd Adams, general manager of Vigil games talked about how they managed to produce the game.
George “Rollie” Adams, CEO of the Strong National Museum of Play and John-Paul Dyson, director of the Strong’s National Center for the History of Electronic Games, a new museum dedicated to the preservation of video game history, attended the summit. They’re collecting a treasure trove of games, documents and artifacts that depict game history.
Please check out our GamesBeat@GDC executive game conference at the Game Developers Conference on March 10. And if you’re a game entrepreneur, consider entering the Who’s Got Game contest for best game startup. Finalists will go up on stage at GamesBeat@GDC.
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