news\ Mar 14, 2012 at 7:00 pm

Ten games that had the biggest impact on today's designers


Last week at the Game Developers Conference, some of today's top video game designers shared their favorite games—ones that influenced their own work in the medium.

For Will Wright, co-founder of Maxis, the game that helped shape the interface of SimCity was Pinball Construction Set with its "amazingly powerful set of tools," which were efficient and allowed for a significant level of depth.

Sid Meier, known for the Civilization series, was impressed with Seven Cities of Gold, which showed him how flexible and expansive games could be. "The message for me was, it's not about what you show on the screen, it's what you cause to appear in the player's imagination," Meier said. "Even today ... it's still the player's imagination that's the most powerful tool we can stimulate and use to bring the experience to life."

For Cliff Bleszinski of Gears of War, that special game was The Legend of Zelda, plain and simple. He recalled childhood experiences and described how the game "ignited his senses" and taught him his "first lesson in branding."

"I was teased at school a little bit," he admitted. "I was chased off the bus and called Nintendo Boy. It kind of sucked back then, but my life is fucking awesome now, and they can just go on with their lame lives."

John Romero, experienced designer and co-founder of id Software, credited Pac-Man as his ultimate inspiration. He noted the dramatic transition from black and white games to full color and discussed how Pac-Man in particular encouraged him to think differently. "The game was hugely influential on me, especially in the fact that it showed game design can be anything you think of," he said. "This game broke out of the mental box the whole industry was in."

What game has had the biggest impact on you?

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Stephanie Carmichael Twitter: @wita
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