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Game Creator Tony Goodman Reflects on ‘Age of Empires’ in New Book, Prepares for Next Chapter

Goodman among Entrepreneurs Featured in Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play

GamersAtWork.jpgDALLAS, February 21, 2012 – With the video game industry in the midst of a massive demographic and generational shift, the creator of ‘Age of Empires’ is reflecting on the phenomena that started it all. In the new book ‘Gamers at Work: Stories Behind the Games People Play,’ by serial entrepreneur Morgan Ramsay, Tony Goodman, co-founder of Ensemble Studios, joins other gaming industry pioneers in recounting the early days of the $25.1 billion industry that now penetrates three quarters of American households.

As Goodman gears up for the launch of a new gaming venture in an era dominated by ‘Farmville’ and ‘Angry Birds’, it seems a good time to reflect. In 1997, Goodman and the team at Dallas-based Ensemble Studios launched ‘Age of Empires’, beginning one of the first blockbuster video game series. ‘Age of Empires’ sold more than 20 million copies, transforming Ensemble Studios into the leading developer of real-time strategy games and dispelling the myth at the time that video games were the domain of male teen geeks.

Today, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) reports the typical gamer is 37 years old and adult women represent a greater portion of the game-playing population (37 percent) than boys age 17 or younger.

“I am so excited about the social and mobile gaming revolution because it extends what we accomplished a decade ago in terms of creating games that appeal to a mass market,” said Goodman, an owner of Robot Entertainment. “We set out to create a blockbuster and we did just that by focusing on three objectives: (1) convince my team that ‘Age of Empires’ would be the most amazing game they ever created, (2) convince Microsoft that ‘Age of Empires’ would be the most amazing game they ever published, and (3) convince the world that ‘Age of Empires’ would be the most amazing game they ever played.”

In “Gamers at Work,” Goodman also discusses the decision to sell Ensemble Studios to Microsoft in 2001. Age of Empires was the first of the two monumentally successful franchises that gave rise to Microsoft as a global video game powerhouse and eventually led Microsoft to establish the Xbox brand. For several years, Age of Empires was responsible for as much as 50 percent of Microsoft's game revenue.

“It was a tough call to sell Ensemble,” said Goodman. “I've always had a passion for games, but ever stronger was my desire to build something great and enduring. The company was my prized possession, and I had a deep attachment to the family I had built.”

Goodman further describes the circumstances surrounding Microsoft’s decision to shutter Ensemble Studios in 2009. The move gave rise to numerous gaming start-ups spearheaded by Ensemble employees, including Robot Entertainment, which was founded by Goodman, Bonfire Studios, Newtoy, Windstorm Studios, Pixelocity, Fuzzy Cube and GRL Games.

Including Goodman, “Gamers at Work,” features the firsthand accounts of 18 of the world's most successful founders of video-game companies, including Electronic Arts founder Trip Hawkins and Atari cofounder Nolan Bushnell. They tell the history of the video-game industry from their earliest days to where they are now. Find out more at www.gamersatwork.org.

Author: Daniel Keeney
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