[This feature was published in the July 2013 edition of Develop magazine, which is available through your browser and on iPad.]
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Jason Avent and I founded Boss Alien with a group of friends from Brighton and my best friend, Tim Swan in June 2011. NaturalMotion Games acquired the studio in July 2012 and now I’m the VP and studio head. We make games for mobile devices with compelling gameplay and high-end production values.
What are you working on right now?
CSR Racing has a full development team on it to generate events, support our player base and we’re working on a set of big features for a new release on the title soon. We have new, unannounced games in the works that will push the capabilities of the latest mobile hardware and really show off what they can do.
What was the first video game or product that you ever worked on in the industry?
I worked at Microprose on XCom Terror from the Deep.
What was the first video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
The first I remember was Space Invaders in the arcades and I loved it. That booming metronome of the relentless onslaught of pixelated white space aliens was hypnotic and I remember it vibrating through my bones as a kid with an electric magic.
What was the most recent video game you ever played, and did you enjoy it?
I’m playing Rocksmith – which is a great way to get better at guitar. I finished BioShock Infinite a few weeks ago, loved the story and the amazingly beautiful and convincing world. What an amazing vivid and original fantasy. I’m playing Minecraft on iPad and Running with Friends and Ace Patrol on mobile. All of which are very slick and fun.
What is your favourite game ever, and for what reason?
I have lots of favourites. At least one per generation. This console generation it was Call of Duty 4. I played League of Legends for about 18 months and lost a year to Planetside. Ocarina of Time, Metal Gear Solid, Forza, Micro Machines, Quake II, Battlefield 1942, Counter-Strike, Half-Life 2 and a great many more. The game of my childhood was Elite.
How many hours a week do you spend playing video games?
I have two young children now so the days of spending an entire weekend playing games are gone. I once spent about 48 hours from Friday afternoon through to Monday morning playing the original Command & Conquer until I’d close my eyes and see the little dudes buzzing around on my retinas. Now I get two-to-three hours per day most days to play games. Occasionally, I’ll take the day off to play a big release in one go.
What area of the industry needs more ‘investment’ in your view?
There are some brilliant innovators here in the UK and it’d be great to see some of those new studios get the financial support they need. NaturalMotion is a modern UK-based developer-publisher and it’s great to be part of an ongoing success story that’s home grown. It’s a shining example of where innovation and investment has worked well.
What do you enjoy about the video games industry today?
I love the fact that there are so many ways to create, access and consume games now. It means that games I have access to are more diverse than ever. Recently, I was playing Hotline Miami, FTL, Far Cry 3, Clash of Clans and Year Walk at about the same time. All are very different games. A few years ago it would have been a load of first- and third-person action games on console that were kind of homogeneous.
What disappoints you about the video games industry today?
I’m disappointed by the negative attitude toward change shown by some consumers and publishers. I’m frustrated by the tribal thinking that makes people conservative and almost religious in their views about how gaming should be.
Of all the games you have worked on, which has been your favourite to work on?
It has been phenomenally exciting to put a company together and we have an amazing team at Boss Alien. The atmosphere is honestly nothing short of magical. Making CSR Racing was brilliant fun and the success has been like riding on a rocket ship.
What games developer do you most admire?
Valve are the best video games company in the world. I love their working philosophy and all of their games.
What hobbies, collections or interests do you have that are completely unrelated to video games?
I am the opposite of a collector and strive for a clutter-free life. However, I do like cars, playing guitar and mountain biking in my spare time.
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