Founder & CEO, Playful Corp.
Paul Bettner has been creating video games for over two decades. He began at developer Ensemble Studios where he worked on hit games such as Age of Empires and Halo Wars before founding his own studio, Newtoy Inc. in 2008 with his brother David. While there they released Words With Friends which became a huge mobile hit and caught the attention of Zynga, who eventually purchased the company in 2010.
In 2012, Paul opened a new studio, Playful Corp. and in 2016 released their debut title, Lucky’s Tale for the Oculus Rift VR platform. Last year they released the sequel, Super Lucky’s Tale for the Xbox One and it was also one of the first titles to take advantage of the Xbox One X hardware. Their next title is the sci-fi adventure game Star Child, which will be available later this year for PlayStation VR.
What is the first video game that you remember playing?
“I was 6 years old when I first played Pong on the ColecoVision. I was writing my first video game just a few years later (copied out of the back of a magazine and typed line by line into a TRS80 color computer).”
What are your favorite games of all time?
“This is a tough competition, but if I have to be pinned down to just one it’d be Super Mario 64.”
Which hobbies or pastimes do you enjoy besides gaming?
“I don’t have a ton of free time as a husband and father, as well as the CEO of Playful. But with the time I do have I enjoy pursuing my passion for aviation. I’ve logged enough hours to be a certified private pilot. I also love keeping up with all of the amazing technological advancements happening in our world, particularly those that redefine what entertainment and art can be. I love virtual and augmented reality and can’t wait for the revolution that will come with the advent of mainstream consumer products that take full advantage of their potential.”
Do you and your children play video games together?
“Absolutely! We play any and all family-friendly games we can find. Recently we’ve been loving the Nintendo Switch. Over the summer we had a blast searching for shrines, collecting Link’s hidden memories and defeating Calamity Ganon in Breath of the Wild. Lately we’ve been trying to find all 999 moons in Super Mario Odyssey. But those are just a few of the many games we enjoy. Unfortunately we are constantly running out of things to play together. I know I’m not alone in my frustration either – there is huge demand today as more and more life-long gamers become parents and want to share the joy of gaming with their children. It’s one of the main reasons I founded Playful – I want to bring more joyful experiences to the world that the entire family can enjoy.”
How do you make time for gaming with a busy family life and career?
“As you can probably tell, a lot of my time gaming these days is with my children. But I also try to play as many new games as possible whenever I have spare time, particularly games that challenge my definition of what a game can be. I crave the opportunity to be inspired by innovative design, characters, worlds, and experiences. And therein lies the key for me in making time for gaming and other innovative entertainment – the inspiration they provide is critical for my ability to be creative.”
What is your proudest moment as a parent?
“I feel most proud when I see my children treat others with kindness, compassion, and generosity. There is nothing better than seeing them make conscious, intentional decisions to put the needs of others before their own. Which, by the way, is entirely a credit to my amazing wife Katy and her truly inspired parenting.”