The Video Game King: The Early Years of Trip Hawkins

"When I was a kid it was the golden age of television when ‘Leave it to Beaver' was on, and I just noticed with my friends that everyone wanted to watch TV, and I thought TV was kind of slow and not very interactive." He might have been just a young boy at the time, but Trip Hawkins was already dreaming big. What could he create that would be more interactive than TV? Hawkins would answer that question in 1982, when he founded Electronic Arts, a successful video game publishing company. Today, as CEO of Digital Chocolate, a gaming company for handheld devices, Hawkins remains one of the few entrepreneurs who has been able to anticipate gaming trends well ahead of their time.

William M. ‘Trip' Hawkins III was born on December 28, 1953 in Pasadena, California. From a young age, Hawkins' life was filled with games of every sort. "I noticed from playing board games, that I was really thinking and more involved really using my brain," he says. "I sort of personally stumble onto the concept that you learn by doing. And of course, I thought, ‘Hey this is really cool.'"

Hawkins' favourite games, however, were those that modeled reality. "The ones I really liked were simulations, where they were trying to recreate something within the real world," he says. "The problem with simulation is there's a lot of machinery that has to get operated. And if you do it by hand, and a good example would be Dungeons and Dragons, or war games, it's really just too much work for most people to play."

Things changed, however, when Hawkins got his hands of his very first computer. "When I first saw a computer, I knew this was the answer for me," he says. "I realized we could actually put the work inside the machine, and on the screen, we could make a picture of what we wanted you to interact with. And it'll turn into real life in a box."

From thereon out, Hawkins knew what he was supposed to be dong in life. "I realized that I loved to have ideas, and then see those ideas brought to life," he says. "And I loved to use games as a way of connecting with other people."

After nurturing this passion throughout high school, Hawkins enrolled in Harvard University, where he designed his own major in Strategy and Applied Game Theory. He then went on to receive his MBA from Stanford University.

Following graduation, Hawkins went to work for Apple Computer, where he became Director of Strategy and Marketing. But Hawkins found himself with one too many ideas to stay at Apple. He wanted to create his own company, where he would be able to bring those ideas to life.

And so, in 1982, Hawkins did just that. He quit his lucrative job at Apple, founded Electronic Arts, and set to work creating some of the world's most popular video games.

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