David Perry (born April 4, 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 Earthworm Jim. He founded Shiny Entertainment, where he worked from 1993 to 2006. Perry created games for companies such as Disney, 7 Up, McDonald's, Orion Pictures, and Warner Bros. In 2008 he was presented with an honorary doctorate from Queen's University Belfast for his services to computer gaming. He is co-founder of cloud-based games service Gaikai, which was acquired by Sony Computer Entertainment.
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 and then Methodist College Belfast.
He began writing computer game programming books in 1982 at the age of 15, creating his own games for the Sinclair ZX81. According to 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. His work continued though, until he was offered a job making just £3,500/year as an apprentice to a veteran programmer who taught him how to do more advanced programming.
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, Mirrorsoft, and Virgin Games, working on titles such as the ZX Spectrum conversion of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game and the Genesis version of The Terminator.
In 1991, he moved to the United States to work for the American division of Virgin Games, usually known as Virgin Games USA. While in there, he led the development duties for several award-winning games for the Genesis, including Global Gladiators, Cool Spot, and Aladdin. 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 and the Genesis versions of RoboCop Versus The Terminator and Walt Disney's The Jungle Book, all of them developed after David Perry had left the studio.
On October 1, 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.. The company's first game Earthworm Jim was a hit, selling millions of copies on multiple platforms, including 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?"
In 2002, Shiny Entertainment was acquired by Atari, Inc. in a US$47M deal, 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.
In 2006, he resigned from Shiny, and formed GameConsultants.com, a consultancy firm planning to offer executive level video game industry advice, followed by GameInvestors.com, a business-to-business company to help video game development teams get funded.
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. In 2006, he co-hosted the annual Game Developers Choice Awards with Tommy Tallarico.
In July 2017, he became the CEO and Co-Founder of GoVyrl, an Instagram influencer meetup app. Meeting the team through a school entrepreneurship program, Perry heads a company that aims to act as a communication and collaboration broker between people who have a significant social media following.
|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|
|Herbert's Dummy Run||Mikro-Gen|
|Three Weeks in Paradise||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 II (arcade conversion)||Mindscape|
|Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles||1990||via Probe Software -> Mirrorsoft / Konami|
|Smash T.V. (arcade conversion)||1990||via Probe Software -> Ocean Software|
|Dan Dare III - The Escape||via Probe Software -> Virgin Games|
|Great Gurianos (arcade conversion)||Elite Systems|
|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|
|R/C Stunt Copter||Titus Interactive|
|Enter the Matrix||2003||Atari|
|The Matrix: Path of Neo||2005||Atari|
- David Perry on Game Design. Delmar, 2009.