Gaming Idols: Top 50 We Ever Interviewed

Interviews have long been a strong passion for us at Kikizo. Today, in celebration of our relaunch into Video Games Daily, we name the 50 best interviewees of the site to date.

By Adam Doree, October 26, 2009

Scott Henson
Director, Game Technology Group, Microsoft

Passing through Redmond on a personal visit in 2006, I stopped by to interview Scott Henson, who’s played a vital role in the Xbox’s development from Xbox Live to XNA. At the time he was not that well known, but only two months after the interview he was a key part of Microsoft’s E3 2006 press conference, presenting the Live Anywhere concept in the presence of a certain Bill Gates. It didn’t come as a surprise to me; Henson had already struck me as a really clued-up and confident executive to interview, who at the time of the interview I was left wondering why we hadn’t seen more of him.

Video Games Daily Interview: March 2006

Kaz Hirai
President, Sony Computer Entertainment

Hirai has a great stage presence if you ask me, but it wasn’t until our first interview with him (published when he was still president of SCEA) that we realised how approachable he is off-stage too. It was at the top of Sony’s global PlayStation headquarters in Tokyo, in a place lovingly referred to as the PlayStation Lounge, that media had been invited to come and check out the PS3 in private. While Phil Harrison was drowning in journalists and cameras, Kaz was surprisingly easier to access. The result was a rather nice video interview feature, as well as one of the most popular “laughing.gif” files to ever hit NeoGAF. At a time when everyone else had been tearing into the PS3, I preferred to play it fair with Kaz on this one. Subsequently it was that much easier to secure time directly with him on two further occasions – 2007 in Los Angeles (in possibly his first ever interview as global president of SCEI), and most recently, in London last year. I put it you he’s one of the best guys to interview in the business, whose media training handcuffs are not enough to stop him showing off a genuine personality. I’d also suggest that he’s made an awful lot of smart decisions since becoming SCE’s global president, with the division finding itself in a much more promising position today than it did just a few years back.

Video Games Daily Interviews: May 2008, July 2007, Oct 2006

Todd Hollenshead
CEO, id Software

In the early days of Kikizo, we managed to really piss off Activision and id Software to the point of legal proceedings in relation to some video coverage of Doom III. Although they were playing hard, the whole thing was basically my fault, and we were basically in the wrong. Todd was CC’d on the emails at the time, and I pretty much wrote both companies off as people we probably wouldn’t be getting much support from in future. But a few years passed, and next thing we know I’m sitting down with the id CEO – a very likeable guy whose opinions really resonate with me as a fan of technology-led gaming. It was an enjoyable interview and of course, id Software remains one of my absolute most admired developers in the world.

Video Games Daily Interview: July 2008

Kai Huang
President and co-founder, RedOctane

One hundred million dollars – that’s the sum of money Activision supposedly shelled out to secure the rights to Guitar Hero, through its 2006 acquisition of a modest Sunnyvale-based outfit called RedOctane. And Kai Huang, President and Co-founder of RedOctane, is the man who originally had the vision to bring the music game genre from the niche of Japanese arcades (as in titles like Konami’s GuitarFreaks) and into the homes, garages and bars of the western mass market. I must admit, I think I pissed Kai off for a second in our 2008 interview with him, with a question that pondered the role of ‘luck’ in such meaty buyout circumstances, but as it turned out the question (on page 2 of the article) led to a good answer about the role of luck in any business, and where luck fits into entrepreneurial spirit – which was really the intention of the question.

Video Games Daily Interview: Oct 2008

Koji Igarashi
Producer, Castlevania series, Konami

An affable, friendly game creator who’s always smiling and laughing around, Igarashi – also known as ‘IGA’ – started as a programmer and writer at Konami, and eventually became Castlevania’s leader after taking over the reins of Symphony of the Night towards the latter half of its development. Despite running for over 20 years and spawning all manner of sequels, spinoffs, and even a few missteps, fans still get excited every time a new instalment in the series is announced. Igarashi’s a fantastic interviewee who’s happy to just tell it how it is.

Video Games Daily Interviews: Dec 2006, Oct 2008

Atsushi Inaba
Co-founder, PlatinumGames

We had the pleasure of sitting down with Atsushi Inaba for one of, if not the final interview of his career under the banner of Clover Studio – surely one of the most adored Japanese development houses that ever existed. Inaba is a great example of how important it is to have a reliable, confident translator when interviewing the Japanese. Although our most recent interview with him on the topic of MadWorld produced reasonably wishy-washy answers, our 2006 sit down with him – interpreted by impeccably skilled Jean Pierre Kellams (who actually moved with Inaba and crew to PlatinumGames as International Coordinator) was a great interview that gave some interesting insight into Inaba’s creative visions.

Video Games Daily Interviews: Oct 2006, March 2009

Keiji Inafune
Manager Capcom Production Studio 2

Legendary Capcom man Keiji Inafune has been with Capcom since 1987. He one of Capcom’s most celebrated producers, and probably its most influential; he was responsible for greenlighting Street Fighter IV (possibly the best idea ever) and also worked as a designer on the original Street Fighter series way back in the day. We also like him because he’s the creator of Mega Man, Onimusha, Lost Planet and Dead Rising – and moreover, he’s a cool guy to talk with as well.

Video Games Daily Interview: Jan 2007

Tomonobu Itagaki
Creator of Ninja Gaiden and Dead or Alive series

Controversial? Pah. Tomonobu Itagaki is one of the most outspoken game developers around, but his never-ending pantomime is something we’ve long been a fan of (and we must admit also a party to, when you consider he’s sat down for interviews no less than six times). In fact, of all the high-profile creators in our interviews, Itagaki – once highly elusive – is one of only two faces to appear more than five times. With the introduction of Dead or Alive in 1996, Itagaki quickly became one of our gaming idols, and it was with the ever-improving, untouchable visual flare of Dead or Alive’s sequels – and specifically with the release of the shockingly awesome Ninja Gaiden for Xbox in 2004 – that Itagaki became more than just an idol: to our minds, something of a ninja in his own right. And being a fan of Itagaki has its advantages when it comes to actually interviewing him. I’ve seen people literally trembling as they enter an interview room with him, and then watched them leave looking like they want to cry. While we always smile at Itagaki’s colourful character where some fear it, the bottom line is it’s his games – and particularly the Ninja Gaiden series – that we’re really fans of. The games gave him his pass to say whatever he likes, if you ask me. And not once has he slagged off the Virtua Fighter series – that would be a step too far.

Video Games Daily Interviews: June 2008, Oct 2007, July 2006, Aug 2005, Feb 2005, May 2004

Satoru Iwata
President, Nintendo

This interview was a pretty huge deal for us at the time. Competing sites were gobsmacked quite frankly, because as a consumer game site it’s still pretty much unheard of to publish an Iwata interview. The good sports called me up and told me so, and the bad sports cried like babies. The interview offered a glimpse into the mind of one of the most important people in the industry, a man we described at the time as “full of ideas guaranteed to surprise fans over the coming years”. At a time when DS wasn’t even out and the announcement of Wii was a long way off, nobody could have predicted how much Iwata-led Nintendo would truly shake up the industry. And as an interviewee, Iwata is captivating to be with: what the video interview didn’t show (in the interest of editing) is that he uses his interpreter (NCL head of PR Yasuhiro Minagawa) only to provide his answers precisely; his English is good enough to understand questions unaided. He has an honest, revealing and thoughtful approach to his answers, and it’s always exciting to interview a man who has the authority to decide right there on the spot exactly what he wants to reveal versus what he’ll keep secret a little longer. Although we’ve since interviewed the global bosses of the other two console manufacturers, this high point with Iwata is the one that made the most noise.

Video Games Daily Interview: May 2004, May 2004 (Transcript)

Kenji Kaido
Producer, SCEI PDD#1

Kaido-san is the producer of Ico and Shadow of the Colossus, and in 2004 he told us about some the ideas and processes that went into the making of the latter. Kaido’s the kind of creator who’s focused on bettering his own acclaimed best, and despite the fact that he was recovering from a heavy night of karaoke the night before our interview (which we were a part of and promised not post the photos!), both he and product manager Fumito Ueda (who also joined in for the feature) make great interviewees.

Video Games Daily Interviews: Nov 2004, March 2005

9 Responses to “Gaming Idols: Top 50 We Ever Interviewed”

  1. xino says:

    Damn..Hayashi did not make the list

  2. HeatPhoenix says:

    Did you guys just never interview Miyamoto or something?

  3. Adam Doree says:

    Miyamoto – not in recent years, although in our interview archive ( you can find an acient video interview cut together from a roundtable, as well as a follow-up roundtable. I didn’t think it would be fair to include those as they’re a different kind of interview. If we’d done a 1-1 with him lately obviously he’d be on the list!

    I’m sure he’s devastated though obviously.

    Hayashi wasn’t on the list because our interviews with him were not done by me, and these are just my personal choice/opinion.

  4. Pokemon says:

    the image of Julian Gerighty is not cool. maybe it is better if you add more proper image.

  5. DR Jam says:

    I thought Jade (Ubi, AC), and Ono (Capcom, SF4) would make the cut. But honestly, that’s a really good list. And it’s perfectly understandable if some of the biggest industry haven’t made the list. At least it’s good motivation, as if you needed more incentives, to other icons to open up: Ed Boo, Will Wright, the guy from Epic Mickey, etc…

    Also it’s about the most fun interviewees so, maybe not every visionary makes for a fun interview.

  6. Doree says:

    Yeah… Jade I haven’t met, Ono I didn’t get a chance to meet until literally just last week at the 3DS launch… even though others have previously interviewed him for the site.

    I am happy to replace the Julian image with another if someone sends one in.

    You know who I’d most like to add to the list? Hiroshi Yamauchi. But that’s not going to happen. ;)

  7. bellashanna says:

    Hi: julian
    It’s me . shana. write back soon!

  8. bellashanna says: it’s me. shana

  9. bellashanna says:

    Julian Gerighty. It’s me


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