A Conversation with Trip Hawkins Founder of Electronic Arts (EA) & Creator of the Modern Computer Gaming Industry.

A Conversation with Trip Hawkins Founder of Electronic Arts (EA) & Creator of the Modern Computer Gaming Industry.

Trip Hawkins founded Electronic Arts (EA) and is often credited as being the spark for creating the modern gaming industry. EA develops and publishes games of established franchises, including Battlefield, Need for Speed, The Sims, Medal of Honor, Command & Conquer, Dead Space, Mass Effect, Dragon Age, Army of Two, Apex Legends, and Star Wars, as well as the EA Sports titles FC, FIFA, Madden NFL, NBA Live, NHL, PGA, and UFC. EA also owns and operates major gaming studios such as DICE, Motive Studio, BioWare, and Respawn Entertainment.

A born entrepreneur, Trip designed, produced, and marketed his first game while a teenager. After it got great reviews but failed as a business, he mapped out a 10-year plan to prepare for the founding of Electronic Arts. This involved creating the world’s first college degree in video games, making his way to Silicon Valley in time for the birth of home computers, writing the first national market research study about personal computers and joining Apple at a time when the company had only 25 office workers and had sold only 13 personal computers to businesses. Trip worked closely with Apple’s founders, notably Steve Jobs, for four years. He led Apple’s planning and execution in the office desktop market and helped grow the company to a Fortune 500 leader with 4,000 employees. Trip gave birth to Electronic Arts (EA) in 1982, where software became a new art form—creating a “New Hollywood” in Silicon Valley.

He led EA for more than a decade, taking it public as an independent industry leader in 1989. It is valued at nearly $38 billion today. Trip later founded 3DO, going through his third IPO and continued to build big digital brands and pioneer new areas including the internet, GPUs, 3D engines, cloud services, digital media, social media, mobile apps, eSports, free to play games, virtual goods economies, VR, AR, Games as a Service, and new tech sectors including sustainability, organic food, EdTech, FinTech, ergonomics and drones.

In this interview I speak to Trip Hawkins, Founder of Electronic Arts (EA). Trip is often credited as having sparked the creation of the modern gaming industry, with EA now being valued at almost $38bn and being home to some of the most influential games ever made. In this conversation we discuss the creation of the modern computer games industry, and how immersive technologies, artificial intelligence, web3 and the business of gaming will shape the future of an industry enjoyed by more than half the planet.

Q: What created your fascination with games?

[Trip Hawkins]: From a young age, I was acutely aware of the exhilaration that came with play. It was an early insight, recognising that through play, I was learning by doing. Play is inherently interactive, granting agency whether indoors or outdoors. As a child, making decisions, evaluating my surroundings, and leveraging resources came naturally to me. When competition was added into the mix, playing with friends introduced me to complex concepts like game theory, including strategies involving threats, promises, and bluffs. My mind thrived in this environment, igniting a passion that guided my interests.

This passion only grew as I entered my teenage years. By then, it was clear to me that I was already pursuing what I had envisioned. Despite the absence of personal computers, tabletop games, board games, and card games filled this void. These games often employed randomness and probability, such as dice rolls or card draws, to mimic aspects of the adult world. To me, the opportunity to govern a simulation of adulthood was immensely appealing, fostering significant cognitive and strategic development even in my youth.

As I matured, television introduced me to new concepts, further shaping my identity. I recognized that a blend of innate talents, early childhood experiences—including the inevitable familial eccentricities—and the cultural influences of my family, school, and community all contributed to my development. These elements collectively honed my understanding of myself and my aspirations.

By my teenage years, it became evident that my passion lay in game design. I realised that games are a potent medium for crafting artificial experiences, offering an unparalleled avenue for exploration and learning. This realisation cemented my ambition to create games, driven by the belief in their profound capacity to encapsulate and convey experiences.

As a young enthusiast, I stumbled upon the works of John Dewey, a philosopher whose prime was over a century ago. Dewey, a pioneer in educational philosophy, championed the concept that we learn by doing, a theory that resonated deeply with me and has since been substantiated by modern science. One of my favourite researchers, Marianne Diamond from the University of California, Berkeley, provided scientific evidence supporting this theory. Although likely retired now, her work demonstrated that interaction is paramount for cognitive development, enhancing intelligence through the growth of brain cells and the formation of new neurotransmitter connections.

This concept of active engagement contrasts sharply with more passive forms of media consumption, such as watching television. While reading involves some level of interaction—deciphering symbols and translating them into complex ideas—television often offers a more passive experience, presenting images that simulate reality without demanding much from the viewer. However, the industry has evolved, introducing narratives with time shifts and multiple parallel storylines to engage viewers more actively, although sometimes complicating the content excessively, as seen in shows like “Lost.”

My realization of the power of simulation led me to experiment with creating my own simulations as a teenager, drawing inspiration from the sports I loved watching and playing. Football and baseball were not just games to me but a source of inspiration, with their heroes and the excitement they generated. I aspired to encapsulate that excitement in tabletop games, combining cards, dice, and probability to simulate the thrill of sports. This endeavour was fuelled by my curiosity and the modest funds I had, which were invariably spent on exploring new sports games at the toy store, despite the mixed quality of the early products available. This pursuit was more than just a hobby; it was a quest to create something that engaged the brain in the dynamic, interactive learning that I valued so deeply.

… my fascination with football stemmed not just from the sport itself but from a natural inclination towards game theory thinking. This interest was further nurtured in college through a course taught by Tom Schelling, who, a decade ago, was awarded the first Nobel Prize in game theory. This continuous thread of strategic analysis and game theory has woven through my life, beginning with my childhood discovery of football and baseball—sports I encountered through the novel medium of television, a technology alien to my genetic makeup but captivating to my strategic mind.

My intrigue with these sports was rooted in their strategic nature. Both baseball and football, much like cricket and soccer, unfold as strategic battles. The dynamic between pitchers and batters, offence and defence, mirrors warfare tactics, where deception and strategy reign supreme. In American football and soccer, the game revolves around territorial conquest, with the ball marking progress toward capturing the opponent’s territory to score points. This realisation came to me naturally, without any familial influence or guidance towards sports; it was a pure reflection of my inherent interests and cognitive tendencies.

My exploration into game mechanics deepened around the age of 11 when I began experimenting with board game design, incorporating probability into gameplay. I intuitively grasped the basics of probability theory, understanding how the distribution of event outcomes could be manipulated through strategic card placement and dice rolls. The epiphany that rolling a 12 was far less probable than rolling a 7, due to the number of ways each outcome could be achieved, was revelatory. This understanding of probability not only enriched my appreciation for strategic gameplay but propelled me towards designing my first game as a teenager.

This journey from a curious observer of sports on television to a young game designer underscored a pivotal growth phase in my life, marking the beginning of my lifelong engagement with the principles of game theory and strategic thinking.

Q: What inspired you to really get into electronic & computer gaming?

[Trip Hawkins]: Growing up, I was drawn to the complex and sophisticated world of simulation games, from the intricate battles of Warhammer to the fantastical adventures of Dungeons & Dragons. As a dungeon master, I revelled in the creativity and strategy these games demanded, despite their daunting complexity and the sheer amount of preparation they required. My fascination wasn’t limited to fantasy; I was equally captivated by the first generation of tabletop sports games, inviting friends from school and the neighbourhood to join in. Yet, the administrative burden these games entailed often led my playmates to abandon the game for the simpler pleasures of television, especially during the 1960s—a golden age for TV as it transitioned into a colourful mass-market phenomenon.

This dilemma set my gears turning. By 1970, with a budding awareness of computers, I envisioned a future where the cumbersome administrative tasks of gaming could be offloaded to computers, transforming gameplay into something as visually captivating as television but with the added allure of interactivity. My vision was clear: to merge the engagement of gaming with the visual appeal of TV, thereby revolutionising how we play.

My epiphany became tangible when, in 1970, my father introduced me to a colleague who had invested in a hobby computer, a PDP-8 kit, equivalent in cost to a brand-new Cadillac or his wife’s annual salary. This rudimentary computer, with its switches, lights, and a KSR-33 terminal, was my first hands-on experience with the potential of personal computing. I was mesmerised by a simple game called Moo, a precursor to modern games like Wordle, which demonstrated the power of computing to create engaging, interactive experiences.

This encounter was pivotal, not just in witnessing a home computer in action but in realising that my dream of integrating gaming with computing was attainable. It also introduced me to a visionary who would later contribute significantly to the gaming industry, including inventing the genre that would lead to the iconic Snake game on Nokia phones. This moment solidified my determination to pursue a career in developing computer games, convinced that this was the future of entertainment—a future I was eager to shape.

Q: How did you create a culture which fostered, and encouraged creativity and innovation?

[Trip Hawkins]: This fascination with systems thinking became a hallmark of my college years, and I suspect, you might share this inclination. It’s this natural propensity to analyse and optimize everything around me, turning mundane tasks like loading a dishwasher into a strategic game of Tetris, that highlights how my brain operates. It’s an instinctive approach to life, viewing the world through the lens of systems and structures.

When I embarked on my college journey, I discovered the possibility of tailoring a major around game studies, aligning perfectly with my innate game theory mindset and my profound curiosity about human behaviour. Observing humans, especially in groups, felt like studying homo-sapiens in their natural habitat, offering insights far beyond my familial experiences. It opened my eyes to the complexities of adult interactions, politics, and bureaucracy, revealing how these elements either facilitate or hinder progress.

My curiosity didn’t just stop at observation. I delved into the world of decision theory, exploring how organisations make decisions and the various models they employ. This wasn’t just academic curiosity; it had practical implications for my future in game design, where understanding these principles could enhance gameplay and narrative structures.

The concept of culture as an organisational model intrigued me the most. Unlike the rigid hierarchies of dictatorships or bureaucracies, where individual learning and agency are stifled, a culture-based organisation promotes shared values and beliefs, fostering a learning environment. This realisation was profound, indicating a shift towards more dynamic and inclusive organisational structures, akin to the communal ties found in families, ethnic groups, and religions across the globe.

Despite the prevalence of culture in various societal structures, its application in business was still a nascent idea, largely unexplored and undefined. Yet, the potential was undeniable. Recognising the power of culture to shape business practices and employee engagement, I saw an opportunity to apply these insights practically, paving the way for innovative approaches to organisational management and design.

Hewlett Packard, with its “HP Way,” serves as an early beacon of the idea that a company’s ethos could shape its success—a concept initiated by its founders in the 1950s. Although it’s unclear if they explicitly labelled this as “culture,” their approach resonated with me deeply. During my academic journey, I dived into the study of organizational culture, seeing it through an academic lens, a perspective enriched by my work with some of the foremost thinkers in organisational decision-making and the looming spectre of global conflicts.

This academic exploration led me to cross paths with innovative minds at Harvard and Stanford Business School, further fuelling my belief in the transformative power of culture in business. This conviction was put to the test when I joined Apple, a company that, at my arrival, was a tight-knit group of 25 office workers. Within four years, our ranks swelled to 4,000, presenting a first-hand view of the challenges and changes that accompany rapid organisational growth.

Midway through this explosive growth, I approached the founders with a concern: Apple had an inherent culture, one that was palpable but undefined and unguided. I warned that we were at risk of losing this essence unless it was formally recognised and nurtured by the leadership. Despite their agreement, they were swamped, leaving the task to me. Thus, I spearheaded a group to define, debate, and ultimately codify what we instinctively knew into what became officially known as the Apple Culture.

This initiative, ground-breaking at the time, was met with scepticism, notably by Sir Michael ‘Mike’ Moritz, a journalist turned venture capitalist. Despite his criticism, dismissing our efforts as trivial, I remained steadfast in the belief of its importance. Now, nearly half a century later, Apple’s distinct culture is undeniable, proving that what we laid the groundwork for was not only real but enduring. This journey from an academic curiosity to a foundational corporate strategy underscores the profound impact of culture on an organisation’s identity and longevity.

Q: What are the most important trends-in, and factors affecting, today’s gaming industry?

[Trip Hawkins]: …there’s something I’ve been pondering that’s not exactly new, but its significance seems more pronounced now than ever. It’s the profound impact of gaming, where the distinction lies not in passive observation, like watching TV or admiring heroes from afar, but in being the protagonist, the hero of your own story. This active participation distinguishes gaming from other forms of narrative like reading, where imagination plays a key role, yet the experience of making decisions, facing consequences, and embarking on a personal hero’s journey offers a unique, compelling engagement.

I’ve always believed in the critical role of narrative in gaming, anticipating that its true value would emerge once we achieved an audio-visual quality on par with television. This evolution took time but was inevitable. Moreover, this journey allows for personal growth and development, mirroring the significance of heroes in our lives. Heroes help us understand ourselves better, reflecting our values and aspirations. Whether it’s Beyonce‘s multifaceted talents or the strategic genius of sports legends like Willie Mays, our heroes resonate with us for reasons deeply rooted in our own identities.

My own journey into the world of sports, spurred by my family’s encouragement, led me to devour books on sports strategies, immersing myself in a world beyond mere fandom. This exploration of personal heroes and their impact is magnified in gaming, where the vivid, immersive experiences far surpass traditional media.

Today, gaming thrives, powered by 3D graphics and immersive technology that continues to evolve under Moore’s Law. The fidelity and immersive quality of games are set to improve, becoming more accessible and mobile thanks to technological advancements. This evolution underscores the industry’s focus on social value and convenience, with the latter increasingly prioritised. The desire for games that are mobile, cloud-based, and instantly accessible, along with features like cross play, exemplifies the industry’s direction towards inclusivity and convenience.

Take, for example, the social dynamics of gaming. Discovering a game and sharing it with friends, regardless of their preferred platform, enhances the gaming experience. This inclusivity, seen in games like Fortnite, which supports play across different devices, highlights the importance of social connections in gaming. Despite the challenges of playing on less optimal devices, the joy of shared experiences with friends remains unparalleled.

In summary, the essence of gaming has always been profound, now more than ever, with technological advancements enhancing both the social and convenience aspects of gaming. This evolution not only reflects the industry’s growth but also its potential to deepen our understanding of ourselves through the heroes we embody and the journeys we undertake.

Q: What about the economics of gaming, what should we know about the market?

[Trip Hawkins]: It’s often said that half the world consists of introverts. My son captured this sentiment perfectly at the start of Covid, spending countless hours in his room on his computer, humorously declaring, “the best side is the inside!” He, like many, finds a sense of comfort in a social life that’s somewhat anonymous, slightly artificial, or just more private. In contrast, extroverts excel in sparking spontaneous conversations with strangers. Take my wife, for instance: if we were to spend an hour on a bus, she’d likely know everyone’s story by the end of the ride, while I’d prefer to sit quietly, engrossed in a book.

Given that introverts make up a significant portion of the population—an audience of roughly 4 billion people—it’s clear there’s a massive demand for ways to engage socially without the pressure of conversation. By placing them in environments where there’s an activity to focus on, such as playing a game or exploring a Metaverse, you tap into a profound need for connection among these 4 billion individuals. And naturally, extroverts will follow, drawn by the allure of what promises to be an engaging gathering.

Consider Fortnite‘s transformation into a massive social event. It began as a parody of a shooter game, where the emphasis shifted from winning to simply enjoying the experience. With 100 players and only one victor, the odds are steep, yet the game fostered a sense of enjoyment that transcended the need to win. The introduction of squad play and challenges with friends further enriched this experience, emphasizing fun over victory. The feature of cross play allowed everyone to join in on their preferred devices, subtly nudging mobile gamers towards considering consoles like the Xbox, thus creating a virtuous cycle.

Now, with the social value of gaming recognised more than ever and with at least 3 billion people actively playing games across over 10 billion smart devices—including mobile phones, tablets, smart TVs, and PCs—the reach is astonishing. It surpasses the global population, ensuring even those in developing countries have some form of access, whether through school computers or older smartphones passed down within families. With over 5 billion smartphones in circulation, it’s only a matter of time before virtually everyone can join in. Indeed, the world of gaming has become one grand party.

Q: What about the role of metaverse & immersive technologies in gaming?

[Trip Hawkins]: Reflecting on today’s technological landscape, we’re witnessing the unfolding of several pivotal themes, with the Metaverse standing out prominently. This concept, coined over 30 years ago by Neal Stephenson in “Snow Crash,” is no longer just speculative fiction. We’re seeing its early iterations come to life through immersive, social platforms that host their own economies, where users feel empowered by their avatars, each boasting unique abilities. It’s evident in platforms like Fortnite and Roblox, which are at the forefront with hundreds of millions of players engaging in diverse activities, especially on Roblox where a vibrant creator-consumer economy thrives alongside virtual currencies.

The Metaverse, in essence, is anchored in two distinct technological concepts. The first, inspired by Stephenson, revolves around immersive 3D graphics, and extends into virtual reality (VR) and physical body suits. However, I’m sceptical about the necessity of such immersive tools for every scenario. High-fidelity simulations, like those used for airline pilot training, justify their expense and complexity. Yet, the idea of donning VR goggles at home doesn’t appeal to me. Even the latest offerings, say from Apple, lightweight as they are, become burdensome after a short time. This isn’t just a matter of physical discomfort; it’s a social issue too. I value being present with those in the same room, engaging in conversation, enjoying a drink, or simply taking a break without the encumbrance of wearable tech.

Moreover, the idea of equipping our living spaces with cumbersome gear doesn’t fit the modern household’s ethos. Unless one is a dedicated athlete or a professional requiring specialised equipment, the intrusion of such devices feels misplaced. It’s about maintaining a balance between embracing advanced technology and preserving the simplicity of our social and physical environments.

In certain vertical markets, immersive technology truly has its place. However, what we’re essentially discussing is the concept of the suspension of disbelief, a phenomenon not exclusive to any single medium. When you begin a new book, there’s an initial awkwardness as you orient yourself with the setting and characters, questioning whether you’ll invest in their journey. A skilled author knows how to captivate you, making the words on a page fade into the background as you dive into the narrative. This capacity for immersion isn’t limited to reading; it extends to movies and television, demonstrating our remarkable ability to become engrossed in a story, even when the screen occupies just a fraction of our visual field.

Given this, I’m sceptical that VR contraptions will become the universal standard for engaging with content. They have their niches and will likely carve out a significant consumer segment, but many experiences don’t require 3D immersion. Consider the success of mobile gaming: most of the top revenue-generating mobile games rely on 2D graphics. PC games, too, show a trend towards simplicity and accessibility, with titles like Minecraft and Roblox playfully acknowledging their blocky graphics as a nod to simpler times, akin to Lego.

Q: How is the dominance of giant ‘platform’ companies impacting gaming?

[Trip Hawkins]: The enduring popularity of 2D and casual games highlights a broader point: complexity or high-end graphics aren’t prerequisites for success or engagement. This insight leads me to believe in the potential resurgence of browser-based gaming, suggesting a shift towards more open systems in the gaming economy, which currently suffers under the weight of restrictive licensing models.

Historically, open systems have fostered media revolutions, from the Gutenberg press to the internet, demonstrating the power of accessibility and open platforms. Yet, the current landscape, dominated by corporations seeking monopolies, contrasts sharply with this legacy. The reluctance of major players to embrace openness, compounded by a lack of regulatory insight, has paved the way for practices that stifle innovation and fairness in the digital realm.

As someone with ties to Apple, I find the company’s current stance particularly disheartening. Despite Steve Jobs’ original vision for the App Store, it falls short of providing the full spectrum of retail services, questioning its entitlement to a significant share of the value chain. This issue reflects broader challenges within the tech industry, highlighting the need for a re-evaluation of how digital platforms operate and contribute to the creative economy.

Currently, the value chain in the gaming industry is quite distorted, with platform companies taking a hefty 30% cut of the revenue. This doesn’t apply if you’re developing PC or browser games, a realisation that savvy companies are increasingly coming to. They’re cleverly navigating this by encouraging users of their free-to-play games, replete with virtual economies, to top up their accounts directly on their websites, circumventing the hefty fees. However, Apple, in particular, seems to be going out of its way to complicate this workaround, a move that’s both questionable and unsettling.

This ongoing struggle highlights the potential of browsers as significant change agents. It’s important to note that the majority of gaming still happens in 2D, not 3D. This doesn’t necessarily require immersion but speaks to a broader trend. On the horizon, new technologies like web3 and blockchain are poised to revolutionise the industry by enabling digital asset ownership authentication, trading in diverse marketplaces, and ensuring interoperability. This flexibility is crucial, preventing dependence on a single token or blockchain, which could be catastrophic if a particular economic system collapses.

The growth of the true metaverse will mirror the evolution of our physical economy, where transactions in stores, restaurants, and other venues are commonplace. Just as we’ve adapted to this economic system, the virtual economy of the metaverse will develop similarly. It started with settlers creating economic value from scratch, evolving from basic encampments to thriving communities. Metaverse citizens must now consider their long-term interests and investments in this virtual economy, just as they do in the physical world.

Yet, there’s a glaring issue with the current setup. The 30% platform fee effectively translates to a 43% price hike for consumers to ensure developers receive their desired revenue. This scenario exacerbates inflation within the virtual world, starkly contrasting with global efforts to manage inflation rates. Both developers and consumers are at a disadvantage, but it’s the consumers who suffer most, trapped within walled gardens that impose draconian rules on asset trading.

Platforms like Roblox offer dismal economic terms to developers, who have no choice but to accept. Simultaneously, consumers are restricted from trading virtual assets, even within the same game, let alone across platforms. This lack of an independent marketplace locks them into whatever terms are set by the game, stifling economic freedom and creativity. The top revenue-generating games have remained largely unchanged for years due to these high switching costs, highlighting the need for a significant overhaul of the digital economy’s structure.

Diving into the economic dynamics of the gaming industry, it’s evident that the current value chain is severely flawed, primarily due to the 30% revenue cut taken by platform companies. This model is untenable, especially considering that 98% of mobile game users, who initially try games for free, never convert to paying customers. This stark reality underscores the limitations of walled gardens and raises concerns about the viability of a metaverse dominated by tech giants like Facebook, Apple, Google, or Tencent. We envision a metaverse that more closely resembles the open nature of the web.

The challenge today for game developers, especially those aiming to create AAA titles, is profound. Many teams, even those with veterans from companies like Riot, struggle not only with the complexities of game development but also with the nuances of managing a virtual goods economy—a concept that games like League of Legends haven’t fully embraced. This struggle highlights a significant industry shift over the past 50 years towards free-to-play models that rely on a tiny fraction of players converting to paid users.

Reflecting on the era around 2008, when Facebook launched its API and the App Store debuted, acquiring users was relatively cost-effective, almost a golden age for app discovery. However, as platforms recognized the lucrative potential of advertising, the cost of user acquisition skyrocketed, fundamentally altering the landscape for developers and making customer acquisition increasingly prohibitive.

Fast forward to today, and the situation has become even more dire. Privacy changes and platform policies have further complicated user targeting, making it costlier for game companies to acquire paying customers. Some companies find themselves spending between $500-$1000 to acquire a single paying user, a scenario made untenable by the mishandling of user data and adtech rivalry by major tech companies.

From a consumer perspective, the closed nature of these gaming ecosystems is equally problematic. Players are hesitant to leave games where they’ve invested in digital assets, fearing the loss of their value. This stickiness benefits platform holders and game developers at the expense of consumer freedom and economic fluidity.

The global gaming economy stands at a crossroads, with the potential to shift dramatically if it embraces more open, decentralised models like web3. By eliminating the 30% platform tax and fostering an environment where digital assets are legitimately owned and tradable, we could see a significant increase in both conversion rates and overall economic activity. Such a shift could propel the metaverse’s value to unprecedented heights, potentially reaching up to 8 trillion in various currencies.

However, achieving this vision requires regulatory insight and intervention to dismantle the anti-competitive practices currently stifling innovation. While there are promising movements, particularly within the European Union, the pace of change remains slow. The path to a thriving metaverse is through the adoption and proper integration of emerging technologies, laying the foundation for an economic system that mirrors the fluidity and openness of real-world transactions.

Q: How is AI playing a role in gaming?

[Trip Hawkins]: Artificial Intelligence (AI) in gaming has transitioned from a long-standing industry joke to a ground-breaking reality. Initially, the concept of AI in games was limited to simple programmed behaviours of non-player characters (NPCs), offering a very basic interaction experience. These NPCs operated on short scripts with a limited set of actions, hardly learning or evolving, making the term “artificial intelligence” somewhat of a misnomer.

However, the landscape began to shift dramatically as technological advancements caught up with our ambitions. The period known as the “AI winter,” characterised by a lack of progress due to inadequate computing power and memory storage, has finally thawed. Thanks to Moore’s Law, the evolution of GPUs, and the decreasing cost of memory, we’ve reached a point where large language models have become feasible. This breakthrough is partly fuelled by the vast amounts of data accumulated on the web over nearly three decades—a serendipitous boon for AI development.

Now, we’re witnessing the tangible benefits of AI in gaming. Developers can create dynamic environments and characters, enabling virtually endless gameplay without the painstaking need to manually design every aspect of a game’s world. AI-generated content is revolutionising the way games are developed and played, offering a level of depth and realism previously unimaginable.

Amidst this exciting era, some companies are at the forefront of integrating AI into gaming. For example, Zibra.ai, a company based in Kyiv, Ukraine, operates under extraordinary circumstances. Despite the challenges posed by their location, including having to seek shelter during air raids, their team of about 80 people is making significant strides. They offer a suite of visually oriented AI tools for game development, showcasing the resilience and innovation within the industry.

This development is particularly noteworthy given the global economic downturn over the last two years. Venture capitalists have shown a keen interest in AI, recognising its potential to transform not just gaming but numerous other sectors. The rapid adoption and development of AI technologies signal a promising new chapter for game developers and players alike.

Thought Economics

About the Author

Vikas Shah MBE DL is an entrepreneur, investor & philanthropist. He is CEO of Swiscot Group alongside being a venture-investor in a number of businesses internationally. He is a Non-Executive Board Member of the UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy and a Non-Executive Director of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Vikas was awarded an MBE for Services to Business and the Economy in Her Majesty the Queen’s 2018 New Year’s Honours List and in 2021 became a Deputy Lieutenant of the Greater Manchester Lieutenancy. He is an Honorary Professor of Business at The Alliance Business School, University of Manchester and Visiting Professors at the MIT Sloan Lisbon MBA.