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Derek Smart Interview - Armchair Empire

Derek Smart Interview

Derek Smart is the Lead Programmer behind the game World of Warcraft. Today, we are fortunate enough to get an interview with Derek and get to know more about his history in the realm of the online gaming industry. For those of you who do not know, Derek first worked on the game World of Warcraft primarily as a hobby. He started writing code for the game, along with a few of his friends who, like Derek were also game enthusiasts.

From the simple game they started building in Derek’s bedroom which they worked on after school every day, the World of Warcraft has evolved into one of the most played MMORPG, that’s Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games today. It is so famous, that there are a ton of tournaments being played everywhere around the world.

In Asia, World of Warcraft has become a full-time ‘job’ for some very serious gamers. There have been reports of players never leaving their stations for days on end. They literally sleep in their seats, each team member taking turns ‘manning the outpost’ and alerts his team in case of an impending attack.

Here’ the full interview excerpts:

NA: Hi Derek! We’re from armchairempire.com. When did you know you wanted to be a programmer?

DS: Well, as a young kid, I was always fascinated by video games. I mean most kids, at least in my generation were all into gaming. As a young kid, I was given a Nintendo DS as a Christmas present when I was 8 years old. It was fun and exciting for a while. But after a few months on the console, I always thought, is there anything else to do? I got bored easily, especially when I master one game in one afternoon. At that moment, I would think to myself, the game would be better if they did this, or they added that. I was critiquing other people’s games as early as then. That’ when I knew I could come up with my own games in the future.

NA: Wow! At such a young age you were already picking those games apart. That must be something to experience?

DS: Well, yeah. I would call up my friends and talk about this and that new video game. And then we’d talk about how the game would be better if it had such and such feature. So even then, my friends and I were already formulating what kind of game we wanted to play. And that’s how World of Warcraft was born, ladies and gentlemen!

NA: It must be fun for you looking back at those early beginnings in the gaming world, right?

DS: Definitely, man. I mean, looking back now I can’t believe how far we’ve come with the development of our game, World of Warcraft. I mean, when we first built it, we never thought it would be played by more than 20 million people worldwide. I mean, it’s hard to imagine that many people liking your game so much. Never, in our wildest imagination, did we think our game would be such a big hit. Sometimes, I have to pinch myself and ask, “Is this really happening or am I just dreaming?”  So, yes-it’s definitely fun looking back at my humble beginnings. Plus, it keeps me grounded and keeps me focused on what I want to achieve in life.

NA: That’s awesome, Derek. So, what’s next for you? Any new games coming out soon?

DS: We’re working on a new game, but still in early dev stage. We’ll keep you posted and let you know when it will be released.