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EverQuest creator John Smedley now making games his kids would like

March 23, 2009 | 10:23 am
Sony Online Entertainment President John Smedley and his family
John Smedley, pictured with his family, helped create EverQuest. Now he's making games that all his kids would like. The latest is Free Realms. Credit: Karen Tapia-Andersen / Los Angeles Times.

It's no coincidence that most of the blockbuster video games of the last two decades have been gorefests and war simulations. Their creators were single guys in their teens and 20s whose all-night coding sessions were fueled by Doritos and Mountain Dew.

John Smedley was one of them. In the mid-1990s, he helped make the trailblazing online game EverQuest, a slash-'em-up fantasy world that only a Dungeons & Dragons-obsessed geek could love.

But Smedley has grown up, and so has the industry.

Now 40, he is broadening his definition of fun and putting the finishing touches on a game that he wants his four children to be able to play. Free Realms, expected to go live on the Web in early April, reflects a level of maturity that's starting to change the nature of games now bursting onto the market.

"The cliche of game developers 20 years ago is that of socially inept young men who sleep under their desks," said Billy Pidgeon, an analyst with IDC who worked as a game producer in the late 1980s and early 1990s. "Many of those have now climbed out from under their desks and started families."

Read the full story here.

-- Alex Pham