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David Perry (game developer)

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David Perry
David Perry, 1996
Born (1967-04-04) 4 April 1967 (age 57)
NationalityNorthern Irish, American
Occupation(s)Video game developer, programmer
Known forShiny Entertainment
Elaine Perry
(m. 2001)
ChildrenEmmy Perry

David Perry (born 4 April 1967) is a Northern Irish video game developer and programmer. He became prominent for programming platform games for 16-bit home consoles in the early to mid 1990s, including Disney's Aladdin, Cool Spot, and the Earthworm Jim series. He founded Shiny Entertainment, where he worked from 1993 to 2006. Perry created games for companies such as Disney, 7 Up, McDonald's, Hemdale, and Warner Bros.[1] In 2008 he was presented with an honorary doctorate from Queen's University Belfast for his services to computer gaming.[2] He was the co-founder & CEO of cloud-based games service Gaikai, which was acquired by Sony Computer Entertainment. In 2017 Perry became the co-founder & CEO of a customer intelligence startup called GoVYRL, Inc. developing a new advanced brand dashboard called Carro.[3]


Perry and other game developers at a BAFTA event in Los Angeles in July 2011. From left: Rod Humble, Louis Castle, David Perry, Brenda Brathwaite, John Romero, Will Wright, Tim Schafer, Chris Hecker.

Perry was born in April 1967 in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, growing up in the towns of Templepatrick and Donegore in County Antrim, attending Templepatrick Primary School[4] and then Methodist College Belfast.[5]

He began writing computer game programming books in 1982 at the age of 15, creating his own games for the Sinclair ZX81. In an interview with the BBC, Perry stated that his first game was a driving game, "a black blob avoiding other black blobs", which he wrote and sent to a magazine, which printed it. He sent them more games and they sent him a cheque for £450: a bit of a problem for a teenager who did not yet have a bank account.[4] His work continued until he was offered a job for £3,500/year as an apprentice to a veteran programmer who taught him more advanced programming.[5]

At the age of 17, he moved to London, where he developed games with Mikro-Gen and Probe Software for publishers such as Elite Systems and Mirrorsoft, working on titles such as the ZX Spectrum conversion of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1991) for NES and the Sega Genesis version of The Terminator (1992). Perry's work on The Terminator caught the attention of Virgin Mastertronic, which was expanding into the United States and had entered a deal with McDonald's to publish a video game themed around its restaurants within six months. Perry responded to Virgin's generous employment offer into their American development branch in Irvine, California, and was granted an apartment overlooking Laguna Beach, which he remarked was "like living in Baywatch". Although Perry had planned to return to the United Kingdom upon the game's completion, the unexpected critical success of Global Gladiators (1992) convinced him to stay in California; as he recalled, "it suddenly made people appreciate me".[6]

While at Virgin, Perry led the development duties for several award-winning games for the Genesis, including Cool Spot (1993) and Aladdin (1993). His work within Virgin Games USA also served as a basis for the development of other games such as the Sega CD version of The Terminator (1993) and the Genesis versions of RoboCop Versus The Terminator (1994) and Walt Disney's The Jungle Book (1994), all of them developed after David Perry had left the studio.

On 1 October 1993, Perry formed his own company in Laguna Beach, California, Shiny Entertainment, naming the company after the song "Shiny Happy People" by R.E.M.[7] The company's first game Earthworm Jim (1994) was a hit, selling millions of copies on multiple platforms, including Sega Genesis, Super NES and PC. The title character, an "average worm" who stumbles upon a space suit which turns him into a superhero, became immensely popular, and spawned a variety of other types of merchandise: action figures, comic books, and a syndicated television cartoon series.

Listing Perry in their "75 Most Important People in the Games Industry of 1995", Next Generation argued that his success had as much to do with his exceptional knack for public relations as his talent as a developer: "Perry often seems to benefit and suffer from a game press who seemingly can't hype him or his products enough. Is all the hype justified? Well, probably not. But that's not the point, the fact is that the press and gamers love him. Next Generation's opinion as to Perry's PR secrets? Always return phone calls, don't make promises you can't keep, and show a genuine interest in whomever you're talking to. Sounds easy? So how come hardly any actual PR people (let alone presidents and lead programmers) in the industry do the same?"[8]

In 2002, Shiny Entertainment was acquired by Atari, Inc. for US$47 million, with Perry signed to a long-term contract to continue on as president. Also in 2002, Perry collaborated with The Wachowskis on games in coordination with their Matrix series of movies.[9]

In 2006, he resigned from Shiny,[10] and formed GameConsultants.com, a consultancy firm planning to offer executive level video game industry advice,[11] followed by GameInvestors.com, a business-to-business company to help video game development teams get funded. He recounted, "I was working on a new game design for Infogrames (Atari) called Plague and was incredibly excited about it. Atari called and told me they had run out of money, and so I offered to find a buyer for my team, they said they’d handle it and I moved on. The first phone call I had after leaving was with The Collective, and they ended up buying Shiny."[12]

Perry is on the advisory board for the Game Developers Conference, and has spoken at industry venues such as E3, CES, Hollywood and Games, Digital Hollywood, iHollywood, SIGGRAPH, Entertainment in the Interactive Age, What Teens Want, The Banff Summit, as well as at major universities such as USC, and MIT.[13] In 2006, he co-hosted the annual Game Developers Choice Awards with Tommy Tallarico.

In November 2008, Perry co-founded Gaikai in the Netherlands, a company that released game streaming technology in late 2009.[14] In July 2012, Gaikai was sold to Sony Computer Entertainment for $380 million.[15]

In January 2016, Perry confirmed that he and Michael Jackson had been discussing making a video game together prior to the singer's death.[12]

In July 2017 Perry left Gaikai, joining startup GoVYRL, Inc.[3][16] to build new technology for brands to work with influencers;[clarification needed] the technology is called Carro. GoVYRL, Inc. has seed investments from entities including The Cove Fund,[17] Brendan Iribe and Alpha Edison.[18]


Description Year Publisher
National ZX80/ZX81 Users Club Magazine 1982 Interface Publications
Tim Hartnell's Giant Book of Spectrum Games 1983 Interface Publications
49 Explosive Games for the ZX Spectrum 1983 Interface Publications
Astounding Arcade Games for your Spectrum + & Spectrum 1984 Interface Publications
Sord M5 Graphics Demos [written in BASIC] 1982 Sord
Drakmaze Mikro-Gen
Herbert's Dummy Run Mikro-Gen
Great Gurianos ZX Spectrum version 1987 Elite Systems
Three Weeks in Paradise 1986 Mikro-Gen
Stainless Steel Mikro-Gen
Beyond the Ice Palace 1988 Elite Systems
Savage via Probe Software -> Go / US Gold
Tintin on the Moon via Probe Software -> Infogrames
Trantor: The Last Stormtrooper Probe Software
Paperboy 2 (conversion) Mindscape
Captain Planet Mindscape
Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles 1990 via Probe Software -> Mirrorsoft / Konami
Smash TV (arcade conversion) 1990 via Probe Software -> Ocean Software
Dan Dare III - The Escape via Probe Software -> Virgin Games
Extreme Digital Integration
Supremacy (UK) / Overlord (US) 1990 via Probe Software -> Virgin Games
The Terminator 1992 via Probe Software -> Virgin Games
McDonald's Global Gladiators 1992 Virgin Games
7-UP's Cool Spot 1993 Virgin Games
Disney's Aladdin 1993 Virgin Games
Earthworm Jim 1994 Playmates Interactive
Earthworm Jim 2 1995 Playmates Interactive
MDK 1997 Playmates Interactive / Interplay
Wild 9 1998 Interplay
RC Stunt Copter 1999 Titus Interactive
Messiah 2000 Interplay
Sacrifice 2000 Interplay
Enter the Matrix 2003 Atari
The Matrix: Path of Neo 2005 Atari
2Moons Acclaim
9 Dragons Acclaim
Dance Online Acclaim
Ponystars Acclaim
Kogamu Acclaim
Rockfree Acclaim
Prize Potato Acclaim
Spellborn Acclaim


  • David Perry on Game Design. Delmar, 2009.


  1. ^ "News". Warnerbros.com. 18 April 2003. Archived from the original on 15 March 2006.
  2. ^ http://www.qub.ac.uk/home/Graduation/HonoraryGraduates2008/DavidPerry/[permanent dead link]
  3. ^ a b "Sony's David Perry departs for Instagram Influencer Marketing Firm". 7 April 2017.
  4. ^ a b McGreevy, Neil (4 July 2003). "Top Developer's Code for Success". BBC News. Archived from the original on 6 July 2003. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  5. ^ a b "The Game Makers: The Producers". GamePro. No. 83. IDG. August 1995. pp. 20–24.
  6. ^ Anderson, Magnus; Levene, Rebecca (2012). Grand Thieves & Tomb Raiders: How British Video Games Conquered the World. Aurum Entertainment. pp. 213–214. ISBN 978-1845137045.
  7. ^ Keefer, John (31 March 2006). "GameSpy Retro: Developer Origins, Page 10 of 19". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 9 June 2007. Retrieved 7 May 2019.
  8. ^ "75 Power Players". Next Generation (11). Imagine Media: 52. November 1995.
  9. ^ "CNN article about Matrix game". 15 May 2003.
  10. ^ "Dave Perry resigns from Shiny". Eurogamer.net. 20 February 2006. Archived from the original on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 17 March 2006.
  11. ^ "GameDaily article". Archived from the original on 21 October 2007. Retrieved 18 May 2006.
  12. ^ a b "David Perry (Virgin Games) – Interview". Arcade Attack. 10 January 2016. Retrieved 25 November 2018.
  13. ^ "MIT Speakers List". Archived from the original on 6 January 2006. Retrieved 17 March 2006.
  14. ^ Lifshitz, Jesse (8 August 2009). "OnLive and Gaikai - How to Stop a Gaming Revolution". ablegamers.com. Archived from the original on 12 August 2009. Retrieved 15 August 2009.
  15. ^ Brown, Nathan (7 February 2012). "Sony acquires Gaikai". edge.com. Archived from the original on 5 August 2012. Retrieved 7 February 2012.
  16. ^ "GoVYRL, Inc. aka VYRL Main Website".
  17. ^ "The Cove Fund Invests in VYRL".
  18. ^ "Alpha Edison Invests in VYRL".

Further reading