Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Cult of Personality: Xbox's J Allard

Amid the furor of all the unveilings prior to E3, I've been captivated by the prominence of Microsoft VP J Allard. I first heard Allard speak at GDC 2004 where he introduced XNA. At the time, I pegged him as just another MS hawker, trying too hard to make a monopoly sound cool. I heard him again at GDC 2005, where he pimped the HD Era [in the interests of full disclosure, I should say that I won an HDTV at that talk, though I have yet to receive it]. He still came off slick and even a bit "over-produced," but the content of the talk seemed to make sense.

Maybe my distrust of Allard came from the fact that he's always got a big screen projection of himself behind him [exhibit A]. To be fair, I've only ever seen him when he's giving a talk which excuses the Citizen Kane thing. Either way, I've never quite been able to separate the real J Allard from the manufactured J Allard. Then I saw this.

Somehow, knowing that he at least looked like an engineer in his past, I feel a lot more comfortable with him. Certainly, the things he's done are not too shabby. According to the recent Time magazine article on the Xbox 360, he pretty much single-handedly convinced Bill Gates to make the Internet a major part of MS's strategy. He also was the mover-and-shaker behind the pursuit of gaming. Time uses the word "evangelist," which I think is appropriate. In the OurColony.net video, I think he comes off as genuinely excited about what he's talking about.

So, to sum up, I find J Allard facinating.


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