In any industry or art form, a select group of individuals will emerge who will ultimately shape the image and effect of the sector or medium. From literature, business, painting, technology, and other cultural hotspots, heroes and heroines have developed. When we think of painting, we remember Picasso and Basquiat and Warhol, just to name a few. When we think of writing, we celebrate Shakespeare and Vonnegut and Wallace. For each art form, a similar list is formed. Canonical figures are groomed.

Compared to these age-old mediums, video gaming is still young blood, but the industry has gradually been spreading its wings over the years. What started with Atari and the arcade has grown into a universe of devoted fans, complex systems, and unparalleled heights of imagination. The examples are countless: consider Mario and Link and Cloud Strife. Characters like these have completely reshaped culture and fandom over the past three decades, lending heroes to fan bases that were in need of fresh and novel role models.

With this sentiment in mind, let’s consider the figures who completely reshaped the image of gaming. From past to present, these are the video game creatives who have made an unassailable impact on the virtual entertainment industry.