Clifford Michael “The Real Cliff” Bleszinski is the design director for the game development company Epic Games in Cary, North Carolina. He is most famous for his continuing hand in the development of the Unreal franchise, especially 1999’s Unreal Tournament, and the Gears of War franchise. He cites Shigeru Miyamoto as his biggest influence. On his website, Bleszinski often shares his thoughts and feelings on the world, American culture, gaming, and life in general. He is occasionally cited for his charitable nature like helping fans get jobs in the industry. Bleszinski also lists his interests on his 1UP.com page, citing Donnie Darko and 21 Grams amongst his favorite films, with Choke and Stupid White Men as some of his favorite books. Bleszinski’s first game was The Palace of Deceit: Dragon’s Plight, a 1991 pixel-hunting adventure game for Windows. He is also known for the games Dare to Dream and Jazz Jackrabbit. In 2006, he served as lead game designer on the game Gears of War for the Xbox 360. Bleszinski will be an executive producer on the upcoming Gears of War movie.
Nolan Key Bushnell is an American engineer and entrepreneur who founded both Atari, Inc. and the Chuck E. Cheese’s Pizza-Time Theaters chain. Bushnell has been inducted into the Video Game Hall of Fame and the Consumer Electronics Association Hall of Fame, received the BAFTA Fellowship and the Nations Restaurant News “Innovator of the Year” award, and was named one of Newsweek’s “50 Men Who Changed America.” Bushnell has started more than twenty companies and is one of the founding fathers of the video game industry. He is currently on the board of Anti-Aging Games, but his latest venture is an educational software company called Brainrush that is using video game technology in educational software, incorporating real brain science, in a way that Bushnell believes will fundamentally change education. Nolan, who is co-founder and chairman of Brainrush, believes that Brainrush will be his biggest success.
Bradford Gates “Brad” Rutter is the biggest all-time money winner on the U.S. syndicated game show Jeopardy! and the second biggest all-time money winner on a game show. Rutter became an undefeated champion on Jeopardy! in 2000 and subsequently won an unprecedented three Jeopardy! tournament titles: the 2001 Tournament of Champions, the Million Dollar Masters Tournament, and the Ultimate Tournament of Champions. Following his third tournament win, in which he defeated Ken Jennings and Jerome Vered in the finals, Rutter surpassed Jennings as the highest money-winner ever on American game shows. Jennings subsequently regained his record by appearing on various other game shows, culminating in an appearance on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? (first aired on October 10, 2008). Rutter retains the record for Jeopardy! winnings with $3,470,102, and a pair of Chevrolet Camaros ($55,102 in five-day winnings, $100,000 and $1,000,000 and $2,115,000; see below), and $200,000 in his three tournaments and one exhibition respectively).
Monte Cook is a professional table-top role-playing game designer and writer. Cook has been a professional game designer since 1988, working primarily on role-playing games. Much of his early work was for Iron Crown Enterprises as an editor and writer for the Rolemaster and Champions lines. Cook worked for Iron Crown Enterprises for four years; two as a freelancer and two as a full-time designer. During this period, he attracted fan and critical attention with the popular multi-genre setting Dark Space. Cook began working for TSR in 1992 as a freelancer, “writing a whole slew of stuff for the old Marvel game that never came out because the game got canceled”. Joining the TSR team, Cook designed Dungeons & Dragons modules such as Labyrinth of Madness (1995) and A Paladin in Hell (1998), and dozens of supplements to the Planescape line including The Planewalker’s Handbook (1996) and Dead Gods (1998). Cook also designed the conspiracy game Dark•Matter (1999).
Artashes Minasian is an Armenian chess Grandmaster. He participated in eight Chess Olympiads with a record of +23 −12 =28. In 2006 the Armenian team took the first place at the 37th Chess Olympiad. Along with himself, the team consisted of Levon Aronian, Vladimir Akopian, Karen Asrian, Smbat Lputian, Gabriel Sargissian). Minasian won the Armenian Chess Championship six times, in 1990, 1992, 1993, 1995, 2004 and 2006. He also won the final USSR Chess Championship in 1991 and New York open championship in 1998. In December 2009, he was awarded the title of Honoured Master of Sport of the Republic of Armenia.
William Ralph “Will” Wright is an American video game designer and co-founder of the game development company Maxis, now part of Electronic Arts. In April 2009 he left Electronic Arts to run “Stupid Fun Club”, an entertainment think tank in which Wright and EA are principal shareholders. The first computer game Wright designed was Raid on Bungeling Bay in 1984 but it was SimCity that brought him to prominence. The game was released by Maxis, a company Wright formed with Jeff Braun, and he built upon the game’s theme of computer simulation with numerous other titles including SimEarth and SimAnt. Wright’s greatest success to date came as the original designer for The Sims games series which, as of 2009, is the best-selling PC game in history. The game spawned multiple sequels and expansions and Wright earned many awards for his work. His latest work, Spore, was released in September 2008 and features gameplay based upon the model of evolution and scientific advancement. The game sold 406,000 copies within three weeks of its release.
Viswanathan Anand is an Indian chess Grandmaster and the current World Chess Champion. Anand has won the World Chess Championship five times (2000, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012), and has been the undisputed World Champion since 2007. Anand was the FIDE World Rapid Chess Champion in 2003, and is widely considered the strongest rapid player of his generation. Anand became India’s first grandmaster in 1987. He was also the first recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 1991–92, India’s highest sporting honour. In 2007, he was awarded India’s second highest civilian award, the Padma Vibhushan, making him the first sportsperson to receive the award in Indian history. Anand has won the Chess Oscar six times (1997, 1998, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008). He held the FIDE World Chess Championship from 2000 to 2002, at a time when the world title was split. He became the undisputed World Champion in 2007 and defended his title against Vladimir Kramnik in 2008. He then successfully defended his title in the World Chess Championship 2010 against Veselin Topalov and in the World Chess Championship 2012 against Boris Gelfand. As the reigning champion, he will face the winner of the upcoming Candidates Tournament for the World Chess Championship 2013.