David Braben

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David Braben
David Braben.jpg
Braben at SingStar premiere at 2005 Cambridge game event
Born (1964-01-02) 2 January 1964 (age 51)
West Bridgford, Nottingham, United Kingdom
Alma mater Jesus College, Cambridge
Occupation Game designer, Video game developer.
Years active 1984–present

David John Braben, OBE (born 2 January 1964), is a British game developer, game designer and CEO of Frontier Developments plc, co-developer of Elite, a space trading computer game, published in 1984. He is also a co-founder of and works as a trustee for the Raspberry Pi Foundation which in 2012 launched a low-cost computer for education.[1][2]

Personal Life[edit]

Braben attended Buckhurst Hill County High School in Chigwell in Essex. He studied Natural Sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge, specialising in Electrical Science in his final year. He then went on to study Computer Science as a post graduate.[citation needed] In May 1993 he married Katharin Dickinson in Cambridge.[3]

Work[edit]

In 2008 Braben was an investor and non-exec director[4] of Phonetic Arts, a speech generation company led by Paul Taylor. Phonetic Arts was acquired by Google in 2010,[5] for an undisclosed sum.

In May 2011, Braben announced a new prototype computer intended to stimulate the teaching of basic computer science in schools. Called Raspberry Pi, the computer is mounted in a package the same size as a credit card, and has a USB port on one end with a HDMI monitor socket on the other, and provides an ARM processor running Linux for an estimated price of about £15 GBP for a configured system, cheap enough to give to a child to do whatever he or she wants with it.[6] The Raspberry Pi Foundation, a charity whose aim is to "promote the study of computer science and related topics, especially at school level, and to put the fun back into learning computing."[7]

Game development[edit]

The BBC Micro version of Elite (1984), showing the player approaching a coriolis space station

Braben has been called one of the most influential computer game programmers of all time, based on his early game development with the Elite series in the 80's.[8]

Elite was developed in conjunction with programmer Ian Bell while both were undergraduate students at Cambridge University. Elite was first released in September 1984 and is known as the first game to have 3D hidden line removal. In 1987 Braben published Zarch for the Acorn Archimedes, ported 1989 as Virus for the Atari ST, Commodore Amiga and PC.[9]

After Zarch, Braben went on to develop the sequel to Elite, Frontier, published in 1993 and founded Frontier Developments, a games development company whose first project was a version of "Frontier" for the CD32. Braben is still the CEO and majority shareholder of the company, whose projects since 2000 have included Dog's Life, Kinectimals, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, LostWinds, Kinect Disneyland Adventures, Zoo Tycoon, Coaster Crazy and games based on the Wallace & Gromit franchise.[10]

As of 2006, Braben was working on an ambitious next-generation game called The Outsider, being developed by Frontier Developments. As said in an interview,[11] he was planning to start working on Elite 4 – as a space MMORPG game – as soon as The Outsider went gold. Braben said explicitly that this title was of a special value to him. The Outsider was abandoned due to removal of publisher support and was never published.

In 2012 Braben explained in an interview with developer website Gamasutra his opinion that the sale of secondhand games negatively affects development of new titles, also holding the price of games in general much higher than they would otherwise be.[12] However, later in 2014 he acknowledged: “Piracy goes hand in hand with sales. If a game is pirated a lot it will be bought a lot. People want a connected experience, so with pirated games we still have a route in to get them to upgrade to real version. And even if someone’s version is pirated, they might evangelise and their mates will buy the real thing.[13]

On 6 November 2012 Braben's Frontier Developments announced a new Elite sequel called Elite: Dangerous on the Kickstarter crowd-funding site.[14] Elite: Dangerous achieved its funding goal, and listed as one of the most funded Kickstarter campaigns.[15] Subsequently, Elite: Dangerous was released on 16 December 2014.

Awards[edit]

On 5 September 2005, Braben received the Development Legend Award at the Develop Industry Excellence Awards in Cambridge.[16]

In 2012 Braben was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.[17]

Braben was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2014 Birthday Honours for services to the UK computer and video games industry.[18][19]

In January 2015, he received the 2015 Pioneer, Game Developers Choice Award (GDCA), for his work on the Raspberry Pi and for working more than 30 years as a game developer.[20]

On 12 March 2015, Braben was awarded the BAFTA Academy Fellowship Award in video gaming at the 11th British Academy Games Awards.[21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ What is Raspberry Pi?, Telegraph, 29 February 2012
  2. ^ Demand for Raspberry Pi, the British £22 computer, crashes website, Guardian, 29 February 2012
  3. ^ "David Braben". The Centre for Computing History. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  4. ^ David John Braben. "David Braben: Executive Profile & Biography – Businessweek". Investing.businessweek.com. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  5. ^ "Google Acquires Phonetic Arts To Make Robo-Voices Sound Human". TechCrunch. 3 December 2010. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  6. ^ Rory Cellan-Jones, "A 15 pound computer to inspire young programmers", BBC News, 5 May 2011
  7. ^ "Raspberry Pi Foundation website". Raspberrypi.org. 13 June 2014. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  8. ^ Rebecca Burn-Callander (15 January 2014). "The godfather of video games looks to a new Frontier". The Telegraph. 
  9. ^ "Virus". Atari Mania. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  10. ^ "Coaster Crazy: Build, ride and crash any roller coaster you can think of. For iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch". Coastercrazy.frontier.co.uk. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  11. ^ Q&A: David Braben—from Elite to today, GameSpot, 22 November 2006
  12. ^ Cox, Caleb (20 March 2012). "Braben sticks knife into secondhand games market". Reg Hardware. The Register. Retrieved 13 April 2012. 
  13. ^ TechDirt (4 February 2014). "David Braben, Once Angry At Used Games, Now A New Business Model Embracer". 
  14. ^ Rory Cellan-Jones (6 November 2012). "Elite classic video games remake seeking backers". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 23 June 2014. 
  15. ^ Kickstarter. "Kickstarter, most funded". 
  16. ^ "David Braben". MobyGames. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  17. ^ "IET members among new Academy Fellows". IET. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  18. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60895. p. b11. 14 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Queen's birthday honours list 2014: OBE". The Guardian. 13 June 2014. 
  20. ^ "2015 Game Developers Choice Awards Honoring Veteran Brenda Romero With Ambassador Award, Elite Co-Creator David Braben With Pioneer Award". PR newswire. 27 January 2015. 
  21. ^ Nutt, Christian (March 12, 2015). "BAFTA Awards honor Destiny, Monument Valley, and David Braben". Gamasutra. UBM plc. Retrieved 13 March 2015. 

External links[edit]