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The 10 Most Creative People in Video Games

1. Sam Houser, Cofounder, Rockstar Games
Critics may decry Sam Houser's "brutally violent" and "sexually explicit" world in Grand Theft Auto, but there's no denying his genius. Gamers can go anywhere and talk to anyone—all while punching and shooting and driving through windows. The most recent GTA sold a record 6 million copies in its first week.

2. Jenova Chen, Creative director, thatgamecompany
If video games can be art, the proof is likely to come from Jenova Chen. He explores the expressive possibilities of game design by tapping into emotions rather than relying on virtual violence. His latest PlayStation release, Flower, lets players experience what it's like to be—you got it—a flower petal.

3. Fumito Ueda, director, Team ICO
Ueda and his Team ICO became critical darlings with 2001's Ico, a PlayStation 2 game in which a boy protects and guides a young woman through a cursed castle. But it wasn't until Shadow of the Colossus, an immersive giant-hunting adventure set in a bleak landscape, that ICO found popular success. The Last Guardian, Ueda's next title was recently unveiled and the trailer displays Ueda's ability to pull heartstrings.

The Last Guardian

4. Jane McGonigal, Director of game R&D, Institute for the Future
Jane McGonigal has become the high priestess of alternate realities. Last year, she unleashed Superstruct, a real-time massively multiplayer forecasting game that imagines the world of 2019, "23 years before human extinction." It asked members of the public to collaborate on devising ways around that grim, and potentially very real, future. "I'm interested in using games to figure out how can we intervene now," says McGonigal.

5. David Cage, Chief executive officer and director, Quantic Dream
David Cage and French developer Quantic Dream pushed the envelope in mature and cinematic storytelling with Fahrenheit—scenes featuring sex were removed from the American version, Indigo Prophecy. Cage's follow-up, Heavy Rain, continues his push toward serious gaming with a story about a serial killer, which asks the player: "How far are you prepared to go to save someone you love?"

Heavy Rain

6. Kazunori Yamauchi, President, Polyphony Digital
The 42-year-old Japanese game designer is on the fast track: He has created eight Gran Turismo games, attracting a cult following among PlayStation users. Yamauchi's games are dazzling in their design and striking in their detail, with licensed reproductions of actual cars and a choice of tracks from around the globe.

7. Bart Decrem, Chief executive officer, Tapulous
Three days after its release last July, Tap Tap Revenge—an iPhone game that's basically Dance Dance Revolution except that you tap your fingers to a song rather than dance to it—shot to No. 1 among free game downloads on iTunes. Decrem has since partnered with labels (EMI) as well as individual acts (Christmas With Weezer, anyone?) to create band-branded apps.

8. Keita Takahashi, Game Designer, Namco Bandai
Katamari Damacy features a tiny alien that rolls random junk up into balls of increasing size—from coins and candy to buildings and mountains—creating a unique experience that caught on and spawned several sequels. Creator Keita Takahashi followed that up with Noby Noby Boy, for the PlayStation Network, where you play a worm-like creature that stretches longer and longer.

Katamari Damacy

9. Neil Young, Chief executive officer, ngmoco
Neil Young left gaming giant Electronic Arts to create a small developer of iPhone games. Their squishy platformer Rolando, was one of the first titles to demonstrate the iPhone's gaming chops and quickly became a hit. Since then, addictive titles like WordFu (you may have seen scores posted to Twitter) has cemented ngmoco as one of the premier game companies on the iPhone.

10. Dylan Cuthbert, President, Q-Games
Since 2007's PixelJunk Racers, Dylan Cuthbert and his Q-Games have been releasing fun and beautiful games for the PlayStation Network. Whether it is the watercolor psychedelics of PixelJunk Eden, or the popular tower-defense title PixelJunk Monsters, the developer's games have fostered a cult following. The fourth game in the series, PixelJunk Shooter, will be released this fall.

Pixeljunk Shooter

Read all about the The 100 Most Creative People in Business

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  • Anthony Cook

    I love Jenova Chen's Emotional gaming experience in flower. It's totally different from other games. What's it like to be a flower petal, who even thought of this? lol, Jenova.

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  • Vernita Condit

    Wow! These guys are indeed very creative & innovative with their skills & I envy all of it. They will continue to be the top 10 creative people in the video game industry.

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  • samantha miller

    I agree to the above post, Jenova Chen is definitely a genius. His latest PlayStation release, Flower is supposed to be brilliant. Going to get it soon.

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  • samantha miller

    GTA sold a record 6 million copies in its first week? Is this for real? This is unbelievable. I think this must be oneof the highest selling ever for any game. Jenova Chen is a genius.

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  • Jamie Cooper

    I was also first wondering where is the name of Shigeru Miyamoto, thanks for letting us know that its already mentioned before. I love GTA period. I think its awesome and very interesting.

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  • Michael Kristof

    Dylan Cuthbert and his team put out incredibly simple and yet innovative games. It's a delight to see every new game they announce and buy them when they come out. They take a simple game mechanic, and innovate on it. Eden was like that, so was Monsters. Their art style is always beautiful, too !

  • G Irish

    In that case the name of the article should have been something like, "The Top 10 Underrated Creative People in Videogames". There's no way someone reading this article would know that it was not a true Top 10 list, but a top-10-of-people-that-Fast-Company-has-not-covered-and-that-are-not-high-profile list.

  • Kevin Ohannessian

    We choose to write about people Fast Company has not covered before. Miyamoto, Will Wright, and Media Molecule have all been featured by us. I personally wanted to avoid high profile names that are always thrown around, Hideo Kojima or Peter Molyneux, for instance. That left the auteurs and the business strategists.

  • Mychol Scully

    Wow, you guys really need to fix your commenting system, my name is not Sandeep Sridhar...

  • Mychol Scully

    1. Sam Houser??? Yes GTA broke new ground in scale (and crime) but as far as creativity it is clearly not number 1. How much imagination is involved in running around a city committing crimes for hire? And how on Earth could Shigeru Miyamoto not be on the list? The man responsible for all manner of Mario Bros. games, Zelda, Donkey Kong and played a role in countless others. How about Will Wright, the man behind SimCity, the Sims, and Spore. All of those games were infinitely more creative and influential than something like GTA. Makes me wonder if this list was created by someone who actually plays videogames.