I recall a quote from Einstein where he says that after the age of 30, a scientist will never come up with any breakthroughs (or something like that). Since video games are consumed largely by youth and most of the great games were made by young people, what is the relationship of age and the quality of game development? With rock star bands, you don’t see them performed by old men (they didn’t get popular when they were old).
The most recent surprise success to hit gaming was Minecraft and the developer, Notch, was about 30 when it became a hit. The creator of Tetris was also around 30 when Tetris made it big. Shigeru Miyamoto was around 30 when Donkey Kong came out. Richard Garriot was around 30 when Ultima 7 came out. Sid Meir was around 34 when Pirates came out and 37 when Civilization came out. Will Wright was 29 when Sim City came out (40 when The Sims came out). Chris Roberts was 32 when Wing Commander came out. Sakaguchi was 25 when Final Fantasy came out. Yuji Horii was around 30 when Dragon Quest was released. David Jaffe was around 32 or 33 when God of War came out. Inafune was 33 when Mega Man 2 was released.
What I see is a pattern. The game developer spends many early years honing his craft and around when he hits 30 is when the ‘big game’ comes. 30 is an interesting age because most of these people started game development in their early 20s or late teens which means they have a decade of doing this first. As they say, you need a decade of doing something before you can get good at it (be it music, art, directing, anything).
It is difficult if not impossible to have this same cycle repeat because the now 30 year olds have these 50 year old butts in their way. Game development seems like something for the young. Programming certainly is!
The idea of ‘romance’ may be due to what is going on with these developers at their stage in their lives. I don’t think any of these people were married with children at the time. Children change you and your perspective in life. As you know, Zelda: Spirit Tracks was made because Aonuma’s son liked trains and he loved reading a book to him. While those of us who are younger (you guys) and those who still don’t have children (such as myself), that sounds outrageous and probably is. The point is that the developers’ perspectives changes as their lives change and flow among life’s normal cycles.
But maybe there is hope. Warren Spector was 45 when Deus Ex was released.