Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Game designer, producer, programmer and technologist inducted into gaming Hall of Fame

Next month a legendary name in gaming will get one of the highet honors.

The Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences (AIAS) has announced that Mark Cerny will be the 13th inductee into the Academy's Hall of Fame, which is bestowed upon individuals who've contributed a significant advancement within the industry while demonstrating proven success and leadership.

The Hall of Fame Award will be presented by Brian Allgeier, Creative Director at Insomniac Games, at the 13th Annual Interactive Achievement Awards®. The Awards, hosted by actor, comedian and avid video game player Jay Mohr, will take place during the 2010 D.I.C.E. Summit on Thursday, February 18, 2010 at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, and broadcast on IFC-TV February 25.

"Mark Cerny is the closest we have come to a modern-day Da Vinci," said Joseph Olin, president, AIAS. "He is a diversely accomplished game designer, producer, programmer and technologist. Fluent in Japanese and one of the foremost Western experts on the Japanese game market, he's also one of the only top-level independents in a business dominated by institutions. His contributions to projects have been phenomenally successful, with sales of almost two billion dollars and over a dozen titles each exceeding two million units in sales."

Cerny's legacy is more than just an impressive list of games; through his work he was also instrumental in fostering the development of some of the video game industry's top stars.

"Mark is one of the only individuals who have managed to stay on the cutting edge of game development from the heyday of arcade games all the way up to the current generation of gaming consoles," said Evan Wells, co-president, Naughty Dog. "Each step of the way he's redefined how the industry thinks about game design, technology, and production philosophies. The franchises he's helped launch are some of the most influential in the business."

Cerny made an early start in games. In 1982 at the age of 17, he left his studies in math and physics at the University of California, Berkeley to become a programmer and game designer for Atari Games. There he created Marble Madness, an early arcade classic still remembered for its Escher-esque graphics and physics-based gameplay.

In 1985 Cerny joined Sega, relocating to its Tokyo offices and transitioning from arcade games to cartridge-based games for home systems. At the time, he spoke no Japanese, however he quickly became proficient in the language. In addition to creating conventional games such as Shooting Gallery for the Sega Master System, Cerny worked in the extreme high-tech end of the 1980's console business, setting up a line of 3-D games using active shutter glasses, and an online games network - both projects ahead of their time. After three years in Tokyo he returned to the US, where he founded and managed the Sega Technical Institute and oversaw the development of Sonic the Hedgehog 2.

Cerny joined Universal Studios in 1994 to set up product development at their interactive group, as VP and later President. Shifting to a producer role, Cerny managed the design and development of the Crash Bandicoot and Spyro the Dragon series for PlayStation, focusing on enhancing the games' appeal for the Japanese market. The games were blockbuster hits, selling over 30 million units internationally. In Japan, the Crash Bandicoot series became the most successful foreign developed, character-based video game of all time, a distinction it still holds today.

In 1998, Cerny founded Cerny Games where he consulted on behalf of Universal Studios of subsequent Spyro the Dragon and Crash Bandicoot titles. He then worked with Insomniac and Naughty Dog on their debut titles for PlayStation 2 as engine programmer for Jak & Daxter: The Precursor Legacy and game designer for Ratchet & Clank.

At the inaugural D.I.C.E Summit in 2002, Cerny first spoke in public on his unique production methodology, which he calls Method. "Mark's thinking on how best to create games has been truly influential," states Bruce Shelley, 2009 inductee into the AIAS Hall of Fame. "The Cerny Method, with its emphasis on creative freedom and risk taking, has informed the debate on the proper role of preproduction in video game development."

In recent years, Mark has continued to work as an independent, contributing in various ways to Resistance: Fall of Man, Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Resistance II, Uncharted: Drake's Fortune, and God of War III, as well as a number of technology initiatives at Sony Computer Entertainment.

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