In Conversation with Ian Livingstone

I had the opportunity to meet and hear one of the biggest author and entrepreneur in the field of gaming – Ian Livingstone.

Ian was in Mumbai celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the world famous icon – Lara Croft, a character he and his team have been associated with since a long time. The videos of the Tomb Raider Anniversary looked really awesome!

His presentation titled “Life is a Game” spoke in depth about his life, starting right from the time he and his friends who were right out of college created fliers about games they played, to the opening of his store – Games Workshop, and then his role as an author for books like Fighting Fantasy and the extremely popular Deathtrap Dungeon.

Today he is a Creative Director at Eidos in UK and is completely involved in promoting one of their biggest IPs – Lara Croft. There were a number of points he made during his presentation about game development which he felt has made him very successful –

  1. Always be original and never copy ideas. A character like Lara Croft was concieved when the gaming space was completely dominated by male character based games. The innovation lied in creating a tough, confident yet sexy character for a game that would appeal to all genders.
  2. Gameplay is the most important aspect of any game. A lot of game developers give a weightage to graphics but experience has shown that if a gameplay is weak even the best looking game will fail.
  3. Market analysis was not considered very important a couple of years back, but today it is a very important aspect of game development. Every game you create should go through some focus test to know its viability in the market and amongst the masses.
  4. Its always best to create your own successful IP (Intellectual Property) than licence one. Lara Croft is a good example of a simple game character getting successful. There are Lara Croft games created on a variey of consoles, she represents brands in advertisements, she has made it across to the movies, she has branded merchandise….and she has made billions for her creators.
  5. Sticking to conventions. Lara Croft was known to be a character who lives at exotic locales and tradional tombs, so getting her to the modern streets of Paris failed with the audiences.
  6. Quality is more important than Quantity. You would never hear a person saying that the movie was bad but atleast it 10 hours long!
  7. A game or any software the most important thing. Nobody will purchase a hardware or console if there is no great software.

When Ian was asked the question of who would he select from Bollywood (The Indian Film Industry) for the role of Lara Croft, his prompt reply was Shilpa Shetty because she was the only actress he knew from the Big Brother controversy in UK.

Overall it was a great experience, and I am glad I got to be a part of it.


About Mariam Dholkawala 188 Articles
Part geeky part quirky, I love writing games, travelling the world, trying new food and learning new languages. I am sometimes the designer, programmer and artist for some of my own games.

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