What do Carl Sagan, “Weird Al” Yankovic, and John Carmack have in common? They're all featured on the “Learn and Be Curious” wall at AGS, Orange County.
The wall—the first thing people see when they enter the studio—is covered with dozens of portraits of the people, places, and things that have personally inspired members of the team. Everyone at the studio gets to submit a photo and personal story about what inspires them, and share it with the rest of the team.
And everyone's submission is anonymous.
We checked in with studio General Manager Patrick Gilmore about a few of his personal favorite submissions, and this is what he told us:
I am the only person in the studio who knows the identity of the employee behind every submission. Some of them have a unique impact on me because I know who wrote them. Here's a few that stand out to me:
Terry Pratchett. I've reread this submission probably 50 times. I find it incredibly moving. What happens when a fundamentally joyful person faces death in the public eye? It's a story I never knew until the wall went up, and now it's one I'll never forget.
Hayao Miyazaki. One of only three entries on the wall that had multiple submissions. I was bewildered when I first saw Totoro. I did not know where the movie was going—someplace horrific and terrible, tragic, or adventurous? The answer was none of these, but a combination of all of them, married to warmth and charm beyond the capabilities of any other living director. Miyazaki is a reminder to me that games are art, inspiring us to discover connection and meaning in everything we ask of our players.
Wizardry. This submission is simultaneously a turning point in a kid's life, the moment of formation of a great game maker, and a beautifully honest description of a father-son moment around a game that remains undiminished decades later. It's a beautiful testament to the positive impact a caring parent can have on a child.
Microhobby. We sometimes have a uniquely privileged and American view of the game industry. I love the story behind Microhobby because it describes inspiration, determination, and the challenges that can be overcome with a will to learn, and a willingness to work, regardless how humble the beginning.
Randy Pausch. If you have not watched The Last Lecture on YouTube, stop what you're doing and check it out. Randy created opportunity and inspiration for, literally, thousands of game development hopefuls, and his final lecture is one of the most inspiring of all time.
Capcom. I can honestly say our studio would not exist without Capcom. We built multiple projects with teams there, and learned to appreciate the deep integrity and passion for invention that has led the company to create some of the most indelible franchises in the entire industry. “Osaka Soul” is the term they use to describe a culture that is different from the slick/Hollywood tone of Tokyo, and many who now work for Amazon were privileged to experience it firsthand.
Want to leave your own mark on the “Learn and Be Curious” wall? We're hiring! Check out the openings here: https://games.amazon.com/careers