The Maverick award recognizes the current achievements of a developer who exhibits independence in thought and action while experimenting with alternate/emerging forms of digital games.
Greg Costikyan has designed more than 30 commercially published board, roleplaying, online, computer, and mobile games. He has written extensively on games, design, and industry business for publications that include the New York Times, Wall Street Journal Interactive, Salon.com, Game Developer Magazine, and The Escapist. His games have won five Origins Awards and a Gamer’s Choice Award, and have been selected on more than a dozen occasions for Games Magazine’s Games 100, their annual roundup of the best games in print. He is an inductee into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame for a lifetime of accomplished, and has lectured at the Copenhagen ITU, the University of Art & Design Helsinki, and SUNY/Stony Brook. He speaks frequently at industry conference including the Game Developers Conference, E3, and DiGRA. His speech on the lack of innovation in the modern game industry at GDC 2005 received a standing ovation.
Greg began his career when he was 14, assembling and shipping games for Simulations Publications, Inc., for whom has designed six games before graduating from college. Over the years, he has also served as Director of R&D for West End Games, lead designer for Crossover Technologies, Chief Design Officer for Unplugged Games (a mobile games start-up he co-founded in 2000), a game industry consultant, and a games researcher for Nokia. As a consultant, his clients have included Viacom, Mattel, France Telecom, Sarnoff Corporation, IBM, Intel, Nokia, the Themis Group, and Roland Berger & Partner.
Costikyan left Nokia in 2005 to found Manifesto Games, which launched in late September of 2006. Manifesto Games is an online distributor of independently developed games, based on long-tail theory, and dedicated to creating an opportunity and creative environment for games similar to what the independent film and music movements have provided for those forms.
He is the author of four published novels and a number of short stories.
Mike Dornbrook, Eran Egozy, Greg LoPiccolo, Alex Rigopulos
Alex Rigopulos (CEO) and Eran Egozy (CTO) founded Harmonix, an independent game development company based in Cambridge, MA, in 1995. Harmonix was formed initially not to develop videogames, but rather to create new ways for non-musicians to experience the unique joy that comes from making music. Today, with Mike Dornbrook and Greg LoPiccolo onboard, the company specializes in music-based videogames, and is renowned for groundbreaking design innovation.
Harmonix Music Systems, Inc.'s acclaimed rhythm-action games, Frequency (2001) and Amplitude (2003), published by Sony Computer Entertainment, successfully merged real-time music-making with insanely addictive gameplay. Frequency and AmplitudeE are also the world's first and only online multiplayer music games.
Their Karoke Revolution series of titles (2003 to present), published by Konami Digital Entertainment, turns singing into a competitive game and turns the game console into a high-end interactive karaoke machine.
Eyetoy: Antigrav (2004), published by Sony Computer Entertainment, was their one game outside the music genre. With the arrival of Sony's Eyetoy, Harmonix saw an opportunity to help define a major new entertainment category: "physical gaming." Antigrav is an extreme sports title-a futuristic hoverboarding game that gamers play by moving their entire bodies, not just their thumbs. It is the world's first videogame to allow the player to control a 3D game character through the player's own body motions.
The company's newest title, Guitar Hero, published by RedOctane, is a shrine to the glory of rock guitar and a fiendishly addictive fusion of music and gameplay. The result, as described by official PlayStation Magazine, is "ridiculously awesome."
Before developing videogames, the company created interactive music attractions for theme parks, including Disney's Epcot Center, and other location-based entertainment venues. These exhibits allowed users to improvise music simply by moving their hands in the air. Harmonix's first product, The Axe, was PC software that turned a joystick or mouse into a musical instrument with which anyone could improvise original instrumental solos in real time.
Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanitj
Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr, and Nick Tandavanitj are renowned internationally as one of the most adventurous artists' groups using interactive media. They lead Blast Theory, a team of seven and that is based in London. The group's work explores interactivity and the relationship between real and virtual space with a particular focus on the social and political aspects of technology. It confronts a media saturated world in which popular culture rules, using video, computers, performance, installation, mobile and online technologies to ask questions about the ideologies present in the information that envelops us.
For the past four years Blast Theory has been exploring the convergence of online and mobile technologies in collaboration with the Mixed Reality Lab, University of Nottingham, to create groundbreaking new forms of performance and interactive art mixing audiences across the internet, live performance and digital broadcasting.
Brian Fiete, Jason Kapalka and John Vechey
Brian, Jason and John, who'd earlier learned their trade working for internet game companies like Flipside and pogo.com, founded PopCap in 2000. The goal was to create accessible web games that didn't sacrifice depth. to apply the highest standards of fun and playability to a genre of games typically ignored or treated as a low-value commodity.
PopCap's web games soon became extremely popular both on their home site and on partners such as the Microsoft Gaming Zone, Yahoo, RealOne Arcade and Shockwave. The next step was to create the Deluxe downloadable versions of the web titles. A risky move that paid off with what CNNMoney dubbed the "second coming of shareware."
Today PopCap games can be found on numerous platforms, from the web to PCs and Macs, to PDAs and cell phones, even in mid-flight airline entertainment.Note: The Maverick award was first presented in 2004.