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Forbes: 30 Under 30: The Brightest Young Stars In Video Games



Every year, the reporters at Forbes look for up-and-coming stars in the industries we cover. We search for people who are doing groundbreaking work, disrupting traditional business models, and establishing themselves as leaders.

You can see the results today in a package of stories we call 30 Under 30. This feature consists of fifteen lists of people under the age of thirty, each of whom are changing the face of a different business. The industries we look at include music, finance, sports, healthcare and science… and of course, video games.

Our honorees include Palmer Luckey, the 21-year-old founder of Oculus VR. Virtual reality for the masses is no longer just science fiction thanks to this engineering prodigy: Luckey started developing his own head-mounted VR displays when he was still in high school, and was in college when he created the first prototype of a consumer-priced VR headset called the Oculus Rift. “You put it on,” says Luckey, “and you feel like you’re inside of the game, rather than looking at it on a screen.”

Endorsements from game industry icons including Valve’s Gabe Newell and id Software’s John Carmack helped Luckey raise $2.4 million in a 2012 Kickstarter campaign. (Carmack was so impressed, he even left id to work for Luckey as his CTO). The year-old company has raised over $91 million from venture capitalists, employs 50 people, and has released an early version of the device to software developers, who are already showing off some innovative VR games and applications. Consumers should be able to buy their own headsets – which initially will work only with PC and mobile games – for a goal price of $300 sometime later this year.

The List:
Click on an individual name to their link to a photo and bio of the person.
Palmer Luckey, 21 - Founder, Oculus VR
Maria Alegre, 28 - Cofounder, Chartboost (some sort of ad tracker site for videogames)
Alexander Bruce, 27 - Owner, Demruth (Antichamber)
Anthony Burch, 25 - Lead writer, Gearbox Software (Borderlands 2, co-star of Hey Ash, whatcha playing?)
Terry Cavanagh, 29 - Director, Distractionware Limited (VVVVV, At A Distance, Super Hexagon)
Brian Cho, 28 - Partner, Andreessen Horowitz (Venture Capital, former Ubisoft exec)
Jessie Coombs, 28 - Senior producer, Microsoft Game Studios (Publisher side)
Matthew Davis, 28 - Cofounder, Subset Games (FTL)
Zach Gage, 28 - Game Designer (Art featured in Spell Tower, Ridiculous Fishing, Lose/Lose)
Alexander Garfield, 28 - CEO, Evil Geniuses (eSports)
John Graham, 27 - Cofounder, Humble Bundle
Keith Guerrette, 28 - Lead FX artist, Naughty Dog (Uncharted 2, 3, TLOU)
Stephanie Harvey, 27 Game designer, Ubisoft Montreal (Ubisoft, and eSports)
Justin Ignacio, 23 - Broadcast production manager, Twitch
Tom Jubert, 29 - Narrative designer (FTL, The Swapper, Penumbra series, Driver: San Francisco)
Ludwig Kietzmann, 29 - Editor-in-chief, Joystiq
Andrew Kim, 22 - Industrial designer, Microsoft (Xbox hardware design)
Jaedong Lee, 23 - Professional gamer (Starcraft, eSports)
David Louche, 19 - Game designer (Candybox, Candybox II)
Justin Ma, 28 - Cofounder, Subset Games (FTL, worked on Top Spin 4, and Bioshock 2 for 2K)
Matthew Malone, 29 - Designer, Branch (OUYA, Tech startups)
Alexander Martin, 22 - Founder, Droqen (Starseed Pilgrim)
Matt Nava, 27 - Creative Director, Giant Squid (art director at ThatGameCompany for Flower, Journey)
John Nesky, 28 - Feel engineer, thatgamecompany (Journey)
Sean Plott, 27 - CEO, Day[9]TV (eSports)
Amir Rao, 29 - Studio director, Supergiant Games (Co-founder, Bastion)
Matt Thorson, 25 - Game developer, Matt Makes Games (Towerfall)
Greg Wohlwend, 29 - Founder, aeiowu (Solipskier, Puzzlejuice, Fig. 8 and Hundreds, Ridiculous Fishing)
Justin Wong, 28 - Director of partnerships, Twitch
Davey Wreden, 25 - Creative mistress, Galactic Cafe (writer for the Stanley Parable) (Note: Despite the title of "Creative mistress", Davey Wreden is a man.

Judges: Julie Uhrman, Martin Rae, John Romero

Julie Uhrman, Founder, OUYA. Founder and CEO of game console maker OUYA, former executive at GameFly, IGN Entertainment.

Martin Rae, President, Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. President of the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, former CEO of Sunleaf Studios, Boss Game Studios and The Electric Playground.

John Romero, Co-founder, Loot Drop. Game designer, programmer, and artist whose work spans over 130 games, including the iconic titles Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake.


I'm glad video games are being taken more seriously as a legitimate art form and a legitimate form of entertainment and a legitimate business nowadays.


Bjergsen is the greatest midlane in the world
Oh, the lead writer on Borderlands 2 is only 25? That explains so much.
From the looks of it this thread needs more bootstraps!

Great list if you ask me. Quite amazing to see such young talent making headway in the gaming industry.


Wow, thats impressive. These people have been at the right time at the right place with the right ppl.


Its good to see old business models getting confused by new, fresh and innovative folks.


Business & Marketing Manager @ GungHo
ouya exec helps nominate an ex-Ouya employee, doesn't seem legit considering.

Not a big fan of the list -- too many from the same companies, on the same games, etc. Lists are subjective though, so no biggie. Would have loved to see a bigger panel or committee.


I have 4 years left to make that list with no skills other than writing.

Great list of smart guys on there that hopefully will change the future of gaming for the greater good.


wants to fuck an Asian grill.
If everything pans out that Oculus Rift guy is gonna get so many drugs and do so many hookers. Rockstar.


Masahiro Sakurai, 16

Wow, the founder of the Oculus is only 21, either he is Luckey or he is very ambitious. Maybe both :) If only had more intelligence and more ambition and more... okay, I feel bad. I can't use the excuse that I'm still pretty young when these guys are within a few years of my age, and I haven't done jack outside of attending college.

Good to see these kind of stories reaching mainstream outlets now. Maybe there is some hope that gaming can expand to new demographics.


surprised totalbiscuit did not make it onto this list (29)

he comes off as an ass on twitter a lot of the time but you can't deny that he belongs on a list like this
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