Of all the folks I spoke to for the Playstation retrospective that Techland’s going to be rolling out over the next couple of days, Ted Price had to be the most unassuming. Not that the other people are blowhards, but it’s just that Ted Price doesn’t have the kind of name recognition that, say, a David Jaffe has to deal with. The head of Insomniac Studios seems to want it that way and only tends to pop up when announcements like new cross-platform IP need to get made. Don’t let Price’s humility fool you, though. The achievements of his studio have been impressive and varied: the clever kids’ franchise Spyro the Dragon, the hilarious and inventive Ratchet & Clank games and the grim severity of the Resistance first-person shooters.
Even though other platforms beckon in the future, Price found his biggest success on the Playstation. Find out how the former corporate drone turned his passion into a profession.
Evan: I’ve been asking folks to start off with their pre-professional gamer biography, so let’s hear about yours. When did you really start to get into video games? When did you want to pursue it as a career? And what kind of consoles and games have stuck out to you before you started working in the industry?
Ted: OK. So, I’ve always been a gamer, I think from the day I first played Pong at a friend’s house when I was five years old to now. I’ve played as many games as I can. And when I was about eight, nine years old, my parents bought a Atari 2600 for my sister and me and we used to play for hours in our living room.
When I was about 10, my dad bought an Apple II E for the house, and, at that point I was convinced that I was going to be making video games for a living. I was programming in BASIC and not getting very far. But the allure of creating game worlds was almost impossible for me to resist. And I continued playing games up until I went to college. At that point, I stopped when I was a freshman. When I was a sophomore, I believe the NES came out. My roommates got an NES for our room, and all of a sudden I was bitten again. And we would just play [The Legend of] Zelda and Metroid for hours. I didn’t seriously consider video game development as a career, because I had my sights set on other things. However…
Evan: What were you majoring in?
Ted: I was an English major.
Evan: OK. That’s funny.
Ted: Yeah. And after I graduated from college I ended up being the financial controller for a medical start-up company. But, I realized fairly quickly that medicine wasn’t a field about which I was passionate. I’d actually gotten into the job through sort of a fluke. Suddenly, I started thinking again about video games and why I loved them. And in early 1994, I officially incorporated Insomniac Games and started the company. Because, at that time, the 3DO had come out. Up until 1994, it was difficult for anybody who considered themselves a garage developer to get into the industry because the expenses for developing for cartridges, cartridge based systems, were prohibitively high. And with the advent of disk-based systems like the 3DO, suddenly doors were opened to a much larger segment of potential game developers. I was one of those people who decided hey, it’s time to start developing games.