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Activision nabs Rockstar's portable guru to lead its mobile games

Former Rockstar Leeds president Gordon Hall brings his portable game design experience to Activision's still-in-its-infancy mobile division. Hall tells us about his failed sabbatical, and why touchscreen games excite him.
Gordon Hall just couldn't stay away. The former president of Rockstar Leeds (primarily responsible for the studio's portable games) thought he was done with games. After helping to finish up Rockstar San Diego's Red Dead Redemption, Hall took some time off to take a break and perhaps find something new, but it didn't work out that way. "Literally, I couldn't keep my head out of games," he tells me during a phone call on Wednesday, fresh off of the announcement that he has been named not only the studio head of Activision's UK-based mobile studio The Blast Furnace, but also the chief creative officer across all of Activision's mobile products. "I started doodling game designs, I was reading books on psychology, I was reading books on new economics, the economics of gifting…all of a sudden it became a passion, this whole mobile space. So while I was out there trying to chill out, I couldn't do it. I got yanked back in." Hall's passions lie in portable games or, more specifically, games that can be turned around quickly that emphasize game design more than they do the flash stuff. And he tells me that transitioning to a designer of touch-based games is like starting over. "It makes you work hard," he tells me, when I ask how the transition has been. "It's a completely new ballpark, like being given a new ruleset. "It's making people think again about what the core of game design actually is."

Hall's first game from Blast Furnace is Pitfall, a new title for one of Activision's oldest IPs (it turns 30 this year). The game is an "infinite runner," but don't call it a Temple Run clone...at least, not in front of Hall. "Temple Run was a game and a time, but now infinite runner is a genre," he says. Whatever you want to call it, Pitfall is available today on the iOS App Store, with an Android version in the works.

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