Is Google Getting Serious About Gaming? Noah Falstein Hired As Chief Game Designer

Well, what do we have here? Somewhat under the radar, Google has hired the computer games veteran Noah Falstein to the position of Chief Game Designer. Yes, that’s right, the search giant, not normally known for its games development, appears to have a major gaming project in circulation, at least something that requires someone as experienced as Falstein at its helm. What that might be we can only speculate. A Google Glass-related augmented-reality game seems a possibility, though there could be something even more serious going on, given Falstein’s areas of interest.

For those who aren’t familiar with his work, according to his bio Falstein’s been in the computer games industry since 1980, spanning companies such as LucasArts, 3DO, and Dreamworks Interactive, and is the designer behind a number of hit titles. He most recently ran his own consultancy, The Inspiracy, which offered companies help on game design, development and business, as well as being a regular on the lecture and speaking circuit. Ever influential, so perhaps not so surprising that he’s wound up at Google.

On his LinkedIn profile, his new title is “Chief Game Designer” at Google, joining sometime in April 2013. No further details are provided. Intriguingly, however, an earlier cached version has the position down as “Chief Game Designer at Android Play Studio.”

That, of course, points to something Android-related, even if — as one industry insider noted when I asked around — Google’s mobile OS seems to be doing just fine games-wise without the need for a dedicated Android Chief Game Designer within the company.

Were Google to be working on a new game (or games) led by Falstein, it wouldn’t be an entirely new avenue. It already has the mysterious Niantic Labs, maker of Ingress, a real-time augmented reality MMO for Android, so perhaps there’s a connection there. Or maybe a similar concept but for Google Glass.

Finally, if we zoom out further and think a bit more laterally, a major interest of Falstein is the field of “Serious Games,” which he defines as “Using Games, Game Technology, or Game Industry Techniques for a purpose other than pure entertainment.” The list of Serious Games projects Falstein has been involved in spans anything from using game techniques to improve health and education, to financial projections. In other words, weighty stuff.

Or, dare I say, very Google.