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Phil Harrison - Fanfare for the common man

Phil Harrison - Fanfare for the common man
We had impeccable sources. None other than his best friend’s nanny, who is married to my nephew. Yes really.

“I hear Phil may be looking to do something else,” she offered in the autumn, young son Bertie wriggling on her shoulder.

I feigned disinterest, then called him a few weeks later. He denied any such notion. And we took a view that we owed him too much to go screwing with his career.

But the move out of Sony was clearly in motion. For a full examination of why the timing for him – and possibly even SCE – is perfect, check out Colin Campbell’s excellent piece over on Next-Gen. He has known Phil for all 20 of the years he has spent in the games business, and it shows.

Phil has done a good job as Sony’s global head of studios, with this year’s titles in an advanced enough state to be largely beyond executive power. The PS3 has come out of its difficult period and is starting to soar. Phil himself wants new challenges and is eager to explore new technologies. He will re-emerge in a role that focuses on content and user experience. He will have all the power, energy and enthusiasm that has marked his career in games to date. But without the stress, politics or public profile that comes with being at such a huge company.

That Phil worked his way up to such a senior position is testament to his own success and Sony’s innovative management policy. This is a still-young Englishman, who was based in London, running one of the most important divisions of one of the biggest Japanese corporations.

Phil was part of the ‘second generation’ of kids that joined the booming UK computer games market in the mid-1980s. He rose to the top of his profession by having the right attitude as well as huge intelligence and little fear.

What a great industry we are in – allowing snotty 19 year-olds to make it to the very top. In this case, a snotty 19 year-old who had a game he’d written turned down by Geoff Heath at Mindscape – but got appointed head of European development instead.

There is no old school tie in this business. Phil Harrison, like many others, did it the hard way. Long may that continue.

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