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Google hires Noah Falstein as chief game designer

What are the search giant's plans for the game industry?

TechCrunch broke the news this morning that Google has hired itself a Chief Game Designer. The news comes from industry veteran Noah Falstein's LinkedIn page, where he lists his new job title. Falstein's background in the industry is extensive, from his early days as a project engineer at Milton Bradley, to project lead at Williams making arcade games to years at LucasArts as a project leader. Most recently Falstein ran his own consulting firm, The Inspiracy, consulting for clients including Disney, Dreamworks, and Microsoft.

Falstein has designed or led projects in a wide variety of genres, including serious games and social games. Why would Google need a Chief Game Designer? That's an interesting question. Google has produced a realtime augmented reality game, Ingress, for Android through its Niantic Labs studio. Could we be seeing Google Glass games from Google itself?

If you look at the history of new general purpose computing platforms, from the PC to the smartphone to the tablet, games have always been one of the leading categories of applications. Why should Google Glass be any different? Perhaps Google feels that the right game could help drive adoption of this new technology, which has gotten mixed reviews so far.

It's tough to see why Google would want to compete directly in Android games or social games with all of the many developers out there. A more likely scenario might be a push into serious games, where Falstein has expertise. Games that might promote health or education could also help drive adoption of a new technology like Google Glass, or become a competitive advantage for Android. Google's efforts might also spur other developers to make similar products.

GamesIndustry International has reached out to Falstein for comment.

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Steve Peterson avatar
Steve Peterson: Steve Peterson has been in the game business for 30 years now as a designer (co-designer of the Champions RPG among others), a marketer (for various software companies) and a lecturer. Follow him on Twitter @20thLevel.
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