The Playstation and Me: Evan Wells, Part 1

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If you ask any ten people what the best series on Playstation 3 is, odds are that eight of them will say the Uncharted games by the Naughty Dog development house.  The first game starring wise-cracking treasure hunter Nathan Drake was the exemplar of the kind of stunning visuals that the PS3 could deliver. The second game–Uncharted 2: Among Thieves–cranked up the action-movie aesthetic even more and won universal acclaim, cleaning up during the 2009-2010 video game awards season.

But Naughty Dog’s no new jack to creating awesome Playstation games. Their Crash Bandicoot games gave the PS1 its first mascot and the Jak & Daxter franchise earned a place in the hearts of PS2 and PSP owners everywhere. Like his peers David Jaffe and Ted Price, Naughty Dog co-president Evan Wells has been closely tied to Playstation at every stage of its iteration. To celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Playstation California native spoke to me about the lucky coincidence that jumpstarted his game career, the friendly rivalry with Insomniac and more.

So, David Jaffe and Ted Price have already told me that they’ve been gamers since their single-digit years. Is there anything different about your early days as a gamer?

Well, I’ve been playing games since I could hold a controller, all the way back to the Atari and arcade machines, and before that, pinball machines. I am one of the unfortunate few game developers that don’t have that really great story they can tell where they say, you’re parents were saying, you’re wasting your time playing those games, you’ll never get anywhere with that, and you make a career out of it, and you can throw that in their face. My parents were sort of feeding my addiction early on and taking me to the arcades, and filling my pocket with quarters. So I definitely was encouraged to play games from the start. My dad was into games and he bought the Atari for himself, but I ended up playing it more than he did.

That’s awesome.

Yeah. So, definitely lucked out there. As I progressed through the years, of course, I bought a Nintendo Entertainment System. I worked all summer long banging nails into a deck at my neighbor’s house so I could earn enough money to buy a Nintendo when I heard that was coming out.

Did you get paid per nail?

Yes I did. I got paid per nail. You’re right.

That’s insane.

Then I got the Nintendo, and, of course, that was my gaming console for quite a number of years. I took it to college with me. I got the Super Nintendo my freshman year in college. While I was at college, I would play as many games as I could. Just sit down and tear through them, and rent them at Blockbuster, and return them the next day. I was playing on my friend’s Sega Genesis. ToeJam & Earl was a big favorite.

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