David Gardner

“There are very few people on the globe who have been in the games industry as long as David Gardner. His executive roles include working for Electronic Arts and Atari. Now he is with London Venture Partners. I was a Product Manager for EA in 1991 when I met David for the first time. Today, he is one of the most successful Investors in the field.”


Founders Keepers

7+1 Questions

interviewed by

Torsten Oppermann


David started his career in computers at the age of 13 when he used his paper route savings to purchase an Apple II computer in 1978. Immediately convinced he had found his professional calling, he completed his high school education 2 years early and started programming and working full time as a computer salesman and installation engineer. Soon after consulting for Atari’s new home computer division in 1981 he met Trip Hawkins who was starting Electronic Arts.

EA was a classic Silicon Valley startup funded by Sequoia, Kleiner Perkins and Sevin Rosen. David joined the startup team behind EA as the 11th employee in 1982 and went on to found the European business unit in 1986 and lead the unit from 1995 where he grew it to $1B in gross revenue and 1200 employees. David became part of the global management team based in California in 2004 after the European success. His expanded responsibility included international growth into Asia and he was responsible for nearly half of the company’s annual revenue when he departed in 2007 to return with his family to live in Europe.

David became CEO of Atari S.A. to complete a childhood dream of running the most famous name in computer games. The turnaround objective was marked by the successful sale of Atari’s physical distribution company, the privatization of the US public entity and the purchase of Cryptic studios which delivered the majority of the company revenue and R&D spending into the new digital economy. David is an active private pilot. In 2007 he was awarded an OBE on Her Majesty’s birthday honours list for services to British business and is Vice President of Games for BAFTA.


You have been in the games industry for some time. And you have seen many trends come and go. From the beginning of your career to today: What has changed most positively in the industry, and what bothers you about the current situation?

At a very high level the most exciting change is the audience expansion. We now have more people, playing more games, in more countries, on more devices than ever before. The ratio of male/female players is closing in on the planet’s average. All great news! This rebalancing and acceleration should continue as we see more diversity in content that appeals to every consumer taste. On the negative side I’m distressed to see how uncivilized players can be to one another. In too many cases it has moved from playful challenge into offensive, aggressive behavior. I’ve seen statistics that show it has driven people into self-harm and depression. This is really not what we all thought about when we played our first game of Atari Pong in the 1970s!


Which key learnings in marketing can other industries draw from the games industry?

Gaming has evolved to a community effort.  Joint content creation, sharing tasks like taking down a boss creature, sharing hilarious moments with a wide viewership audience – all of these things show that gaming is more than a single moment or a temporary activity – it has moved into community and lifestyle.  That’s a powerful element to marketing in the gaming world and it is a powerful bridge to other industries.


Who are your role models in the industry?

I’ve had a number of role models over my industry career.  Certainly, the first one would be Trip Hawkins who founded EA, 3D0 and Digital Chocolate.  He was the first real “Silicon Valley” entrepreneur that I met.  Trip was incredible in his understanding of the market and how to convince the team to give everything to win.  He is a charismatic and exciting person.  A more recent example would be the Supercell leadership team.  It is easy to mention Ilkka Paananen but honestly it runs deep in the entire leadership of the company.  I learned from them humility, a quiet search for excellence, the power of being small and being laser focused.


How did the marketing and promotion of games change in recent years? Where are we headed in games marketing in the next years to come?

I suppose there is the expected use of large-scale indiscriminate media such as big budget TV ads.  But more interesting has been use of the community to spread the word.  Very laser focused acquisition of users based on spending patterns, the launch of Apex Legends via influencers and the latest trend which basically “the community is king.”  Spaces like Discord and video content on Twitch and YouTube create a new place for players to learn from others.


Which social media channels do you see as key for the games industry?

I’d say for the core gamer it is probably reading comments on Steam and Discord.  For the mass audience its discovery on places like Bunch or YouTube.


About the current trend on creators and influencer marketing: The trend towards more micro and macro influencers with a smaller reach and less fans, but more authenticity and engagement: How can the Games industry leverage that trend in your opinion?

I agree with the trend you describe in the question. I believe we will see some kind of tools available for marketers to reach “the long tail” of influencers.  But in the short term, I think it will be engaging the community to spread the word and using agencies and other experts to help organize messaging through the thousands of influencers that share the fun in playing games.


The media landscape has changed massively in the last ten years. However, PR is still one of the most important communications tools in the games sector. Where do you see PR in the next five years, what will the challenges be?

I think honestly the hardest thing is sifting out who to follow and who you trust.  Anyone can now be a spokesperson.  The tools for broadcast are completely open and therefore anyone, with any agenda can broadcast to anyone.  So, bringing honesty, authenticity and protection is one challenge.  From the consumer’s point of view I think the logic of a “brand” – or a shortcut to a set of values, will be ever more important to be able to organize and see information in all the noise!


Bonus question: Which project / topic in your career are you particularly proud of?

I loved the cultural piece of sharing the company values across all the teams and countries.  I think seeing a team succeed, getting great feedback from the community and loving what they do is so much fun.  It really works when the environment provides a rewarding place to do your best work!

Founders Keepers

All about Marketing in Games and Tech.

Treasures and Insights

from leaders in tech and gaming around the globe



Frank is a seasoned leader in the IT industry with over 30 years of retail, partner, solutions and cloud transformation experience in sales and marketing.




Heiko Klinge began his industry career in November 2000 as a trainee at GameStar. Today he is the editor-in-chief of the biggest PC gaming website in Germany.




Peter Stock is responsible for the strategic purchasing within the organization of Microsoft Deutschland GmbH as well as within the sub-areas in Austria and Switzerland. 


Fabian Mario


Fabian Mario Döhla is Head of Communication at CD PROJEKT RED, the studio behind The Witcher games and Cyberpunk 2077.




Tom McQuillin has been in gaming for most of his career, first at Xbox in product marketing and product strategy and now at Facebook.




David Miller has worked in and around the video games industry for over 25 years. He started out in marketing and currently acts as Head of Games for War Child.


Leya Jankowski

Leya Jankowski is editor-in-chief of MeinMMO, Germany’s leading multiplayer site. She is the person in charge of content and content strategy.


Philipp Walter

Philipp spent ten years in the sporting goods industry, five of those at adidas. Now Philipp is a founder himself and CEO of Gamers Academy.


Chris Van der Kuyl

Chris van der Kuyl is one of Scotland’s leading entrepreneurs working across various industries. His company 4J Studios brought Minecraft to consoles.


Ingo Horn

Ingo Horn is founder of Gaming-Aid e.V. and Letsplay4Charity e.V. as well as Communication Director Europe at Wargaming. He began his career as a local newspaper editor.


Funda Yakin

Funda Yakin has been working for agencies, publishers and on the industry side in marketing for nearly 20 years.


Michel Bonetti

Michel Bonetti is product manager at Orange and was active in countless sectors, keeping the business development as a constant point of interest.


Petra Fröhlich

Petra Fröhlich worked as editor-in-chief at PC Games for more than a decade until she eventually founded GamesWirtschaft, her very own news portal about video games.


Daniel Bollers

“Daniel is one of the most successful sales allrounders for consumer electronics. We’ve known each other for over 10 years now and his insights and teachings are always a true source of inspiration for me!”


Hendrik Lesser

„I know Hendrik not only as a games industry veteran, but also as a member of the global Entrepreneurs’ Organization to which we both belong. He has built a little empire comprised of game developers. I really appreciate his entrepreneurial spirit.”


David Clark

“David and I go way back to the good old times at SEGA. He played a fundamental role in shaping the games business in the UK and has a ton of experience in all areas of marketing. Currently, he is building bridges between Europe and Asia for games publishers.”


Thorsten Hamdorf

“I’ve known Thorsten for nearly twenty years and worked closely with him. He is a really knowledgeable marketing man.”


Wim Stocks

“Wim is a seasoned executive in the video games industry. I met him when we worked for Atari many moons ago. He is a renowned expert in the interactive entertainment industry.”


Tom Dusenberry

“Tom was my boss in the nineties when I worked at Hasbro. He founded the gaming division ‘Hasbro Interactive’ and made a bunch of bold and disruptive decisions. His vision was to become as large as Electronic Arts. Unfortunately, Hasbro sold the gaming division. I bet today it would have been as big as EA.”


Maxi Gräff

“I’ve been following Maxis career for some time now, ever since her time at IDG where she worked for GamePro and GameStar. She started playing around with YouTube early on, knows the video games industry inside out and is working for Microsoft since 2015. She’s an advocate for the industry and especially for equal rights. That’s amazing!”


Philipp Hartmann

“In the past six years, Phillipp set a lot of things in motion over at Microsoft. He didn’t just support the reconstruction of the brand and the transition of stationary commerce, he shaped it.”


Trip Hawkins

“There are very few super entrepreneurs who defined the video game industry from the start. While Nolan Bushnell shaped the hardware, the one and only Trip Hawkins defined the software. He is the founder of Electronic Arts! He made developers rockstars! No more words needed. His career speaks for itself.”


David Perry

Perry started in Northern Ireland working on the Sinclair ZX81 (early 1980’s), he moved to England from high school, ending up with a #1 hit for Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. 


Caroline Miller

Founder and Managing Director at Indigo Pearl, an award-winning PR and asset management agency specializing in video games. Caroline founded Indigo Pearl in 2000 and prior to this worked in-house within the games industry. 


Boris Schneider-Johne

Boris Schneider-Johne, born in 1966, helped shape the early years of games culture in Germany. He is a true legend.


Volker Prott

Volker Prott, a man for marketing and media. After studying media economics, Volker first worked in the world of media agencies and then joined Electronic Arts (EA) in the media and marketing departments.




David started his career in computers at the age of 13 when he used his paper route savings to purchase an Apple II computer in 1978. He was a global leader and shaped EA and Atari, before becoming an investor in the most valuable Gaming companies on this planet.


Thomas Mey

My name is Thomas Mey. I have been earning my bread and butter in the trade since completing my apprenticeship as an electrician. That was a good 30 years ago.


Michel Wedler

Long-standing executive and expert in purchasing & product management and sales in retail for entertainment products, especially in the areas of music, film, games, consoles, accessories, merchandise, and toys. 




Oliver Menne started in the games industry at the end of the 80s, at the time of the Commodore 64. He runs Eurogamer in Germany today.


Hans Ippisch

Hans Ippisch’s professional career began in 1986, when he signed his first contract as a game developer at Rainbow Arts at the age of 16. Today, he heads up Intellivision Europe.


Mike Steup

Mike has 25 years of experience in management, sales & marketing, and product development. He is the king of peripherals and recently launched an amazing Kids tablet with Disney.

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