The Playstation and Me: David Jaffe, Part 1

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Last week marked the 15th anniversary of the Playstation brand. It’s hard to see it now, but in 1995, Sony’s surprising entry into the world of video game hardware constituted a huge gamble that many thought wouldn’t pay off. Of course, the Playstation’s fortunes turned out far better than anyone could have expected. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the success of the Playstation changed the future of video games. Along the way, the new game machine gave rise to a new breed of game designers, some of whom have become superstars in their own right. To celebrate the lifespan of the console that put them on the map, I’ve talked to several game designers whose careers exploded thanks to Playstation.

In my conversations with them, I wanted to explore how the history of the games medium and the timeline of the Playstation brand intersected and their own personal and professional biographies. Among those I spoke to was David Jaffe, the man best known for creating the Twisted Metal and God of War franchises. Talking with Jaffe illustrates just how much possibility there was at the beginning of Sony’s console efforts. Read on to find out how Kratos’ daddy and the Playstation both ascended to godhood.

So, basically what we are talking about is the history of the medium, through kind of a Playstation-centric angle. And I just want to talk to you about your career and development. For me, the interesting thing with you, as a creator, you’ve been so closely tied to Playstation for I think it’s fair to say the bulk of your career. I want to talk a little bit about what the console means to you personally, and professionally. Let’s start with your first couple jobs in the industry. What was your career path like?

Well, my career path has always been totally tied to Sony. I started as a tester for Sony Imagesoft, which was the Sony video game arm before there was a Playstation division. Terrible, terrible games for the most part. There were a couple gems in there. But for the most part, they were awful. And I was a tester. That’s how I started. Just kind of needing a job out of college.

But it was very apparent early on–almost from the moment that I walked in the door, really–that Sony was the kind of company that really gave you a lot of opportunity to really express yourself and shine. I mean, I can’t speak to Sony globally, but certainly the video game group was that kind of place.

And if you were willing to do the work, there was a lot of opportunity to sort of play in this really amazing playground that Sony was creating for us. So it was very quick to go from being a tester to saying, hey, I want to design. And even though I was still having my testing duties and my assistant producer duties, I was constantly doing designs and pitches.

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