Gamer Spotlight: Dean Takahashi

Dean Takahashi

Lead Writer at GamesBeat

Dean Takahashi is a veteran business journalist who has covered the tech industry for more than 25 years. He’s covered gaming in particular for 18 years and has written for such publications as The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, and The Dallas Times-Herald. He’s also authored two books, Opening The Xbox and The Xbox 360 Uncloaked which covered Microsoft’s rise in the games industry.

Since 2008 he has worked at VentureBeat where he serves as Lead Writer for GamesBeat and helps to organize the GamesBeat and GamesBeat Summit conferences. Dean and his family live in the San Fransisco Bay area.

What is the first video game that you remember playing?

That one is easy to remember. I played the original Pong when it came out. It was on an arcade tabletop machine in the Tropicana Hotel, a luxury lounge at the tennis courts. Back then, the arcades were far different, full of pinball machines. This was something totally different, and my brother and I poured a lot of quarters into it. As Nolan Bushnell said later, it was easy to play, difficult to master.

img_7399What are your favorite games of all time?

My favorite game is The Last of Us, from Naughty Dog. They tied the beginning of the game to the ending in a beautiful way. They created an interesting relationship between this older man and a teenage girl, bound together for the sake of survival. Their relationship changed over time. From a story point of view, that worked. It was also a good game that gave you different paths through a level, showing you when it made sense to fight or run, or operate in stealth. The environment and the characters were well done, and the difficult situations and choices were intense.

I also loved how everything came together in Halo. It had great first-person shooter action. A compelling story. A beautiful world with a variety of enemies. Thunderous music, and an interesting relationship between Master Chief and Cortana.

Recently, I also loved playing Hellblade, as it took me on a journey into hell and madness, through the eyes of someone who was living through a nightmare. No game had ever helped me see the world through the eyes of someone suffering from madness before.

Which hobbies or pastimes do you enjoy besides gaming?

I enjoy watching my kids play soccer. I love movies, books, music, and all things related to history. I loved The Lord of the Rings, Dune, and The Dark Tower series. I enjoyed films like Saving Private Ryan, Schindler’s List, Apocalypse Now, and Miller’s Crossing. I’m a Springsteen fan. You know, the music old people like. I also enjoy photography, but I’m bad at it.

Do you and your children play video games together?

One of my kids grew up to be interested in games, but she still plays mostly mobile games. We talk about games and she appreciates them, but doesn’t have time for them. Another child will try to play through console games with me, but that’s more rare. She is determined to get through the games herself, without much help from me. My third kid is more into Instagram than games, though she does play mobile games and enjoys tinkering with tech gadgets. All of the kids, however, love playing Nintendo games on the couch. We play the New Super Mario Bros. on the Wii U or Mario Kart.

How do you make time for gaming with a busy family life and career?

It’s difficult balancing life and work and games. When I’m done with work, I play games. But I also make sure to spend time with the wife and the kids. I have traveled a lot to take kids to their soccer games, and I’ve enjoyed that. I have to find what each person in the family is passionate about, and learn more about that. My wife likes walks. One kid is a foodie. Another is a photographer and artist. And still another is into slime and soccer. I take an interest in what they do, when I have time.

What is your proudest moment as a parent?

I have three kids, and that adds up to many proud moments. My eldest reviewed games for us during one summer, and she also has found internships at game companies. My middle child has excelled at soccer, art, and science. She also got a short film into a kids film festival. And my youngest found a way to sell things on the Internet and gain a following. I’m proud they’ve grown up to be great individuals.

Make sure to follow Dean on Twitter at @Deantak and check out his writing at VentureBeat.

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