Q: Where you are from?
Lorrach, West Germany
Q: If you knew it was going to be your last meal, what would you eat?
Japanese Kaiseki dinner preferable in Kyoto, Japan.
Q: What led you to pursue a career in your current field, and how has your professional journey evolved over time?
My professional journey started in M&E (Media & Entertainment). I started a small video game development company called The Redmersoft Group coming out of college with a handful of computer lab buddies. Through a series of unplanned events, we ended up sponsored by Lucasfilm, Ltd. and were given office space and equipment at Skywalker Ranch. My career stayed in M&E at Lucasfilm, Nintendo and Microsoft as well. My journey to using gamulation in education, training and human assessment came about as a result of changes in the business model in consumer entertainment. I could not personally accept the premise around what is called Free-To-Play gaming with microtransactions. This led my passion in entertainment to shift to academics originally.
Q: What was the most challenging project you worked on in your career? How did you overcome any obstacles to achieve a successful outcome?
This is a tough question because there are several examples I can point to. If I had to choose one, I would say the challenge of winning the second console generation war for Microsoft vs Sony. I had previously played a key role in the launch of the original Xbox, and among other things I had been tasked to beat Sony’s Gran Turismo racing title which would be a flagship for PlayStation 2. After successfully launching Project Gotham Racing and Forza Motorsport on the Xbox, I was tasked with beating Sony with Xbox360 vs PlayStation 3. In early 2003, I was given one sheet of paper that said three things. Launch Xbox 360 during the 2005 holiday season (thus shortening Sony’s PS2 lifespan), get Xbox360 to 10 million units installed before Sony does with PS3 and make one billion dollars.
I was one of three people that were assigned to start on this task. At the time, the most daunting task was to avoid being “Dreamcasted”. In the previous console generation Sega launched the Dreamcast one year before Sony’s PS2. Sony basically countered by saying that the new console era doesn’t start until they launch PS2. Sega left the market shortly thereafter. We were tasked with launching Xbox360 one year before PS3.
The challenge was to make sure Xbox360 could not be sloughed off as old news when Sony would launch its PS3 one year later.
The plan I came up with was to exploit the recent release of what was called High-Definition TV screens. They were more rectangular letter box type of display as opposed to the current more squarish TV displays at the time. The term High Definition was not well defined, and consumers did not understand what it really meant. Most of the original Hi Definition TV’s were not higher resolution, but instead just had the letter box shaped viewing area. I decided to leverage the confusion and make the Xbox360 the first high-definition gaming console in the gaming industry. I forced all games to be developed in the letter box screen shape so that everything on the console would appear high definition. This planned worked in that the Xbox360 was universally accepted as a next generation console when it launched. What is ironic in hindsight is that the PS3 is actually the first true high-definition console to come out. It supported true 1080p display mode natively. Also of note is that we did achieve all three goals on that one sheet of paper.
Q: What motivates you to come to work every day, and how do you stay engaged and enthusiastic about your job?
I have had the privilege of being able to define my job based on my passion. I live the life of “do what you love and you will never work a day in your life”. My passion has been to apply my deep experience in consumer entertainment in areas where it can really make a difference like higher education academics, employee assessment and training, and developing communication, living and employability skills for intellectually challenged individuals.
Q: Can you share a defining moment in your life or career that has shaped who you are as a person (rather than a worker)?
The birth of my first child. Everything that was important to me before that day no longer mattered. I have lived for my children ever since.
Q: How do you maintain a work-life balance, and what activities or hobbies do you enjoy outside of work?
I have the privilege of owning and running a lifestyle business. There are eight Redmers involved in the business. Work and life have blended for me in the most positive way. “Work” actually feels a lot like family for all of us.
For most of my adult life, my biggest outside of work activity has been global travel. My personal hobbies are running, swimming, and speed walking. My family group hobbies are video gaming, board gaming, group sports and watching and routing for our favorite sports teams.
Q: What do you hope the future of work looks like? (Please give an example of a challenge you see today, and what a solution might look like, or a specific thing you hope for in the future workplace)?
Today I see big challenges of how work will be performed in our post-pandemic era. Remote work is here to stay, no matter what large companies try to mandate. For any company that has a large workforce, they will not be able to retain their highest performing employees if they require them to work at the office. They also won’t be able to hire replacements at that level. The solution is in accepting that remote work will be your source of your most important output and that you should fully focus on optimizing for that model. Use situations that truly benefit from interpersonal team interaction as events that are held at locations that are desirable for those employees.
Q: What advice would you give to someone starting out in your field or looking to grow to their utmost potential?
My advice is to do what you love. If you can do that, you will have an advantage over others in similar positions. You will also be most likely to do your best work, which in turn should yield the best career growth path for you. I have lived my life this way and have no regrets.