Our website uses cookies to distinguish you from other users of our website. This helps us to provide you with a good experience when you browse our website and also allows us to improve our site. By continuing to browse the site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

agree

Jaydon meets Craig Allen
Video Game Developer

Jaydon meets Craig Allen | Kidspiration

Craig Allen loved to play video games as a kid. But he had to go to an arcade, an area in a mall or a special store where visitors could play all sorts of console games, including pinball and air hockey.

That arcade experience turned out to be useful because after graduating from college, he was hired by the Walt Disney Company to develop video games based on Disney characters and movies. He worked on games that came out when the movies Aladdin, Toy Story, and Hercules were in theaters. He also helped create original games for Disney like Nightmare Ned and Mickey Mania.

Then he moved from Mickey to the Muppets. He went to work for Jim Henson Interactive, where he developed games based on Sesame Street, The Muppets, and Bear in the Big Blue House. He and his team designed a program for puppeteers to make animated digital puppets in real time. This computer program won several important prizes!

By 2002, Mr. Allen was ready to start creating his own video games. He and his partners founded Spark Unlimited. Their games include Call of Duty, Turning Point: Fall of Liberty, Lost Planet 3, and Legendary.

He is now working as a consultant to show companies how to use game design in their businesses, to help both employers and their employees to communicate, give and receive feedback, and reward achievements.

Today, gamers don’t have to go to video arcades. Instead the arcade is in our pockets, on our phones. But video games still provide a safe place to play, Mr. Allen said during a YouTube discussion, where players can experiment, solve puzzles, and learn to make choices they will see again, out in the real world.



Jaydon:
Hi. I’m Jaydon. And today I’m talking to Craig Allen. Craig is the man behind the original Call of Duty game. So as a gamer myself, I am super excited to find out how all of this came about. Let’s go and meet him.

—-

Jaydon:
Hi, Craig. Nice to meet you.

Craig:
Nice to meet you, Jaydon.

Jaydon:
It would be great if you could tell us a bit of who you are and what you do.

Craig:
Sure. My name’s Craig Allen, and I’m kind of a video game guy. For a long time I’ve been working on video games. So I started at the Walt Disney Company, and I did video games based on their feature-animated films. And then I went to the Jim Henson Company, and we did games that were both video games like with Muppets – do you know The Muppets?

Jaydon:
Yes.

Craig:
So we did Muppet-y games. And we did some educational things. And then I started my own company called Spark, where we did the first Call of Duty game and some other things. But most recently I’ve been working to bring technology into hospitals, which has been kinda fun –

Jaydon:
Nice.

Craig:
– to create environments that give kids who are patients control over their environment so that they can heal in an environment that inspires them.

Jaydon:
What kind of started you off to do that?

Craig:
When I was a kid – and this is really cool to be here. Because I was growing up in Seattle, Washington, and I worked at an arcade. So when I was in high school, we had comic books; we had the arcade; we had miscellaneous toys and things that were part of this shop. And video games were just starting to come into the world. And in Seattle, a lotta the machines from Japan used Seattle as a test place. So we got the first Pac-Man that came into the United States.

Jaydon:
Wow.

Craig:
And it was just this really interesting experience of being able to unbox and see what things were. And every week there were new games coming out. And so there was this period where just every time you walked into the arcade, there was something new to see. And what started first as very simple blocks like Pong, where you have just a ball, started to become characters like Donkey Kong, like the early Mario game, Pac-Man, started having personalities. And this was, for my time, an amazing experience: to see this change and this new art form, this new way of planning games, come into the world.

So, from a very early age, I was impacted by the arcades. I was at the Walt Disney Company, and they opened up a video game group.

Jaydon:
Wow.

Craig:
And I said, “I would love to get back involved with games.” And so I started working on games at Disney to bring story, character, and gameplay together around the properties, whether it’s Mickey Mouse or Hercules or some of the other films like The Lion King. We were the group that tried to figure out: “How do you translate a story into something people play and experience in a different way?”

Jaydon:
Tell us: what’s the main thing you need to know if you wanna become a game developer?

Craig:
The main thing to know about becoming a game developer is really that anything that you’re passionate about probably plays a role in making a game. So if you’re an artist or a designer or an engineer, all these talents are about making games. Even a composer who wants to make music has a role to play in making music to support a game. So pretty much anything that you want to do passionately, you’ll probably find a place in the game industry. And to get into the game industry, it’s really just about doing it. So: find a friend who complements your skill set; team up and start making games.

Jaydon:
It’s really cool sitting around here, around these old arcade games, and seeing as how gaming has definitely developed and progressed over the years. So tell us a bit about that: how you feel that it’s progressed.

Craig:
It’s incredible to see the change in games. Today, with PlayStation and Xbox, you’ve got these immersive worlds that you can go into. And tomorrow, very soon, you’re gonna have Oculus, HTC Vive and other systems that will put you in the game world. And if you think about these worlds being like Pong, when you’re my age, you’re gonna be able to find yourself in a completely immersive world that probably looks a lot lie our world.

Jaydon:
So, thanks, Craig. It was great to meet you. Thank you for all the knowledge that you’ve shared with me and with us. So it was great meeting you. Nice to meet you.

Craig:
Great. Thanks so much for the time.

Jaydon:
Thank you so much.

Craig:
So now do we get to go play some games?

Jaydon:
Definitely. Yeah.

Craig:
All right.

Jaydon:
Let’s try it.

Craig:
[Laughs].

—-

Jaydon:
Well, that was enough gaming for now. Like Craig said, it’s good to get outside every now and then.

I enjoyed meeting Craig, and I hope you did too. See you next time.