The Canadian geek behind the Microsoft Kinect.

When Microsoft came calling, Don Mattrick, raised in Vancouver, BC, was already at the top of the video game heap. And he was bored.

In 1982, Mattrick decided nobody was making interesting games for the PC, and started his own video games company with his friend Jeff Sember. Mattrick, 17, based Distinctive Software Inc. in his parents’ home. The duo’s first game, Evolution, had players working their way up the chain of life, from a single cell to a fully formed human. The feat won the young duo a spot on Front Page Challenge.

Mattrick was on his way. In 1991, at age 27, he sold Distinctive to California-based Electronic Arts for about $10 million, mainly in stock of the new company. He joined Electronic Arts and, over the next 15 years, helped turn it from a game-development shop with a market capitalization of $185 million into a $15-billion behemoth. He ran offices in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom, eventually heading up EA’s studios worldwide.

By 2006, Mattrick was a legend in the gaming industry. He had been named Ernst & Young’s Technology Entrepreneur of the Year in 1998. Simon Fraser University gave him an honorary doctorate. “I loved the competitive side,” he says. “I had a wonderful time at EA, but after 20 years in the gaming industry, I decided to take a year off.”

During that respite, Microsoft’s head of the entertainment and devices division, Robbie Bach, came calling.

Read the full story, in the Report on Business Magazine, on the geek who made Microsoft cool. Click here.

Advertisements