Media Consumption: Electronic Arts' Nick Earl

Today’s Media Consumption, a weekly column that digs deep to find out what our favorite game developers have been devouring in the four basic media food groups of audio, ...
Today’s Media Consumption, a weekly column that digs deep to find out what our favorite game developers have been devouring in the four basic media food groups of audio, video, printed word and games, speaks to Electronic Arts Redwood Shores Studio's Vice President & General Manager, Nick Earl. Earl's management duties include overseeing nearly all development aspects for EA's Redwood Shores and Maxis studios, including the Sims, James Bond, Lord of the Rings and Tiger Woods franchises, as well as the upcoming Godfather. Prior to EA, Earl held positions at both Eidos Interactive and The 3DO Company, and had a hand in a number of successful franchises, including the first Army Men, Thief II: The Metal Age and Deus Ex. Sounds: Earl's tastes tend to revolve almost entirely around the Grateful Dead. "The latest CD I've been listening to is is 'Garcia Plays Dylan,’" Earl told us, via email. "For fans of Jerry Garcia and/or Bob Dylan, I highly recommend it. Truly great versions of ‘When I Paint My Masterpiece’ and ‘I Shall Be Released.’" Also gracing his ears lately are the Grateful Dead Download Series (via iTunes) and Dick's Picks 36, the latest volume in the late Grateful Dead archivist Dick Latvala's series of specially chosen live performances. "In the non-Grateful Dead category, which is rare," he said, "Amos Lee is a new artist I like. Also, love the ‘Garden State’ soundtrack. A must have for sure." Words: Earl says he just finished Disney War, a look into the corporate intrigue of Michael Eisner's era heading the Walt Disney Company, by author James B. Stewart. "Wow...very hard to believe what happened there," he said. "Anyone interested in the entertainment industry should read this. It is a frightening expose into Disney and its leadership. If I ever act that way, someone please smother me with a pillow...after giving me a $200 million severance, of course." Moving Pictures: "I haven’t been to a movie theater in, oh, five years," said Earl, who is exclusively a NetFlix man these days. "No one talking during the film and no smell of that fake butter stuff, I love it," he said. Recently enjoyed rentals include Crash, The Incredibles, and Goodfellas, one of Earl's all-time favorites. "I also just re-watched the first three seasons of ‘The Shield,’" he said. "This is my all-time favorite TV show – absolutely awesome. And I have been brushing up on the first few seasons of ‘The Simpsons’ as we just signed the license and will be developing the games in my studio here in Redwood Shores. It is pretty amazing how successful that series has been. Seventeen seasons and still going strong. You really have to take your hat off to their originality and creativity to do it so well, for so long." Games: "I've been playing a whole lot of The Godfather, as I have jumped on the team to executive produce it for the last six months. So, that gets about 12 hours a day of focus, much of it playing through the build to see how things are coming together. It has been a tough development cycle, but highly educational as this is our first truly open world game with story missions. We are in a great place with the game and in the final stretch of debugging and tuning it." When he's not working, Earl can sometimes be seen playing Resident Evil 4, The Warriors, God of War, Madden NFL 2006 and Tiger Woods PGA Tour 2006. "I love Resident Evil 4", he said, "...and though I am biased (we develop Tiger in my studio), I’m loving Tiger for Xbox 360. Hitting the ball into the crowds is more fun than hitting the fairway!" [Frank Cifaldi is a Las Vegas-based freelance author whose credits include work for Nintendo Official Magazine UK, Wired, and his own Lost Levels website.]

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