GamesBeat

Legendary game exec Bing Gordon on epic poems, the golden age of gaming, and Xbox as a platform

Image Credit: Matt Lynley

Former Electronic Arts exec and current Kleiner Perkins partner Bing Gordon was on-stage at MobileBeat 2012 today in San Francisco.

After opening unconventionally with a poem — actually not too bad, see below for full text — he, Dean Takahashi from GamesBeat, and Don Mattrick, Microsoft’s president for Xbox and Xbox Live, held a fireside chat about the past, present, and future of gaming.

Here are all the best bits:

Gordon on the golden age of gaming:

“We are in the golden age of gaming, but we may not be the golden age of gaming business. When I started in the gaming industry, our customers were mostly males, mostly teens, and when boys got their driver’s license, they mostly stopped. I thought in my wildest dreams maybe half of all people might be gamers eventually.

“But now we’re at almost three quarters of the population. And that includes women and older adults.”

Gordon on the second-best invention ever:

“I think games are the second-best human invention for creating meaning. The first is religion, for how many people it kills and how much money it raises.

Above: Don Mattrick (left) and Bing Gordon at MobileBeat 2012 in San Francisco

Image Credit: John Koetsier

Mattrick on gaming platforms:

“I’ve spent 30 years in the gaming space and developed for probably 150 different device platforms. I was probably wrong on 149 of them, but today there are 2.8 billion gaming devices of all kinds across the world, and that’s expected to double in five years.”

Mattrick on Xbox growth:

“In the past five years, Xbox went from number three to number one [in the home video-game console race], and we took Xbox Live from nothing to north of 40 million users.

“With Smart Glass we’ll add a very simple idea: context and intelligence and sharing between different devices.”

(Mattrick also mentioned that the new version of Halo, which is currently under development, will work with Microsoft’s new Surface via Project Glass, and I confirmed this with him after the talk.)

Gordon on the future of Xbox:

“Microsoft has to try to make Xbox live the real crossover service for all gamers. Nobody’s done a game network as well as Xbox…in fact, iTunes and Xbox are two of the biggest successes in the consumer Internet.

“Xbox needs to be a platform like Office or Windows.”

Gordon on Apple, Google, and Microsoft: 

Google owns eyeballs. Apple owns ears and fingertips. With Xbox, Microsoft has a shot at owning the living room.”

Image credit: John Koetsier

And Bing’s poem…focused on Dean Takahashi, the lead writer for GamesBeat.

Takahashi Sauce

Games, after three decades, have become the darlings of new media,
But Dean, you still have no listing in Wikipedia!
I started to Google your blog, but autocomplete
In its infinite wisdom, called your column “Game Eat.”

You realized paper journalism was going cold turkey,
And so you ditched the Red Herring and the San Jose Mercury.
You sat at the launch of Xbox, which was notably lame,
Turned to me, and said, “Do you think Bill Gates will ever play games?”

You authored the definitive book on Xbox,
With infinite insider quotes that connected the dots.
Who could have predicted that only one decade later
The only founders still there would be the Microsoft cafeteria waiter.

Speaking of Seamus, I see he’s speaking here, and he’s metro,
No wonder he’s going back to triple-A games with talent that’s retro.
It took a Canadian, Don Mattrick, to make Xbox Live fantastic.
Who would have predicted that the obsolete aspect of gaming would be plastic?

You blogged, Dean, that this is the “crossover” era,
But frankly, crossover sounds more like a new kind of bra.
But even though some of your memes and headlines may fail,
It’s great for the gaming business that you are our Pauline Kael.

Dean, you may be Anonymous on Wikipedia, but your invisible hand
Has the power to add nobility to gaming, and fluff up some brands.
Of course the folks at Microsoft are now a bit nervous
That you might prefer shooters on Vita to Surface.

You write for the anxious, the overinvested, the bored,
Proving, that in games, the pen can still be mightier than the sword.
You report from the front lines of new gaming trends,
Proving that technology transition is the gamemaker’s friend.
So when you take time to write that next book on Gaikai or Surface or Siri,
We hope the HuffPo of video games, Gamesbeat, will never come to an end!

- Bing
July 2012


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