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Turns out that Donovan can create mood, if not emotion. The Fall of Max Payne, one of his 2003 releases, is the closest the games world has yet come to film noir. You can be Payne, a New York cop, or his femme fatale, Mona Sax. Yes, there is plenty of violence and gunplay, but there is also a tender and tragic love story. If Donovan is a part of the malaise of the industry, he may also be a cure.
Shigeru Miyamoto = Steven Spielberg Shogun of Nintendo King of directors
At the Top of his Game
It's hard to beat being the guy who brought us Jaws, E.T. and Indiana Jones--unless you're the guy who created Donkey Kong, Mario Bros. and Zelda. Ever since Shigeru Miyamoto first sicced that platform-climbing arcade monkey on us back in 1981, everything Nintendo's lead designer has touched has turned to gold. His games have sold in excess of 100 million copies. Practically all the under-35's in the games industry today--which is most of them--grew up influenced by his work. "Every Miyamoto title pushes game technology and creativity a little further," says Souris Hong-Poretta, co-president of New York City--based Invasiv Studios, a game developer. "Not one or the other. Always both."
The bright colors, cute characters and music-box noises of a Miyamoto game may seem childish to the uninitiated. But try playing 15 minutes of a Legend of Zelda game, particularly 1998's Ocarina of Time. Next thing you know, it's 3 a.m. Miyamoto has an uncanny ability to come up with a puzzle whose difficulty keeps pace with a player's grasp of the game.
Like Spielberg, Miyamoto presents a popular image of the boy who never grew up. His games, he says, are made entirely to please his inner child. He finds inspiration in unlikely places, like his garden (which gave us Pikmin, the tale of a spaceman who has to grow and harvest brightly colored flower people; Pikmin 2 is in the works). Miyamoto lives modestly in Kyoto with his wife and two kids (who don't play video games). He bicycles to work, is fond of Mickey Mouse ties and keeps a banjo by his desk.
But that image hides a tougher, Hollywood-mogul side--especially in recent years, since Miyamoto, 51, has become more manager than creator. Eiji Aonuma, director of Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, tells of Miyamoto's habit of coming in at the end of a game's gestation to "upend the tea table"--a phrase that harks back to what Japanese fathers used to do when they didn't like what was for dinner. The boy who never grew up is not afraid to make a mess if he doesn't get what he wants.
John Carmack = Mel Gibson Doom designer Passion player
Master of Doom
If anyone can produce a piece of popular entertainment more blood-soaked than Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, that person is John Carmack. The creator of two of the most violent game franchises in computer history, Doom and Quake, is a few months away from releasing Doom 3. It's a remake of the original, in which you play an Alien-esque space marine battling the ghostly spawn of hell down gloomy corridors of a futuristic Mars base. Not that the hokey plot matters much to hard-core gamers. "Doom 3 is just going to terrify the pants off people," says Rob Smith, editor of PC Gamer magazine.