Ed Boon, Chief Creative Officer at NetherRealm Studios and co-creator of Mortal Kombat, has seen the gaming industry go through massive changes during his more than three-decade career. On Thursday night, he had one of his most memorable moments. Boon was named to the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences’ Hall of Fame during the annual DICE Awards.
“Appreciative is the word that comes to mind,” Boon said. “Grateful. It’s a surreal experience getting this standing ovation and getting that sustained applause. I don’t think I’ve ever had that experience before, so it’s been a really nice, reaffirming thing to go through.”
Boon’s start in the industry began when he worked on coin operated pinball machines.
“I was very happy there, but I always did want to eventually work on video games,” Boon said. “That’s what I did as a teenager. That’s what I did as a hobby. There was something about controlling things on a screen, I always got a thrill out of that. It’s such a blank canvass to work with.”
He would transition to video games and help create one of the industry’s iconic series – Mortal Kombat. The first game was released in arcades in 1992.
Since then, the franchise has spawned multiple game installments, three films and more.
“We were fortunate enough to have started this game with just four people,” Boon said. “I can’t imagine trying to start something like that as a first iteration today. That would be a completely different challenge, to create something from scratch. We hit that sweet spot, a magic time with arcade games that is hard to duplicate. Right game at the right time.”
Since then, Mortal Kombat has spanned decades and console generations. All along the way, it picked up new fans while retaining much of what longtime fans love.
“I tend to forget and I’m very often reminded from fans of the game or fellow industry people of their experience first playing Mortal Kombat or first seeing the movie,” Boon said. “If you hear enough of that, you get the idea that it has really penetrated into pop culture and is a part of a number of people’s really good memories.”
While his games have provided a lifetime of memories for gamers, the industry also has provided him a lifetime of inspiration.
“It’s provided an entire career for me,” Boon said. “It’s changed so dramatically. Because it’s changing so quickly, it never becomes stale or mundane. As technology advances, as there are new things you can do, it widens the canvass in terms of what is possible to do. So, it’s always evolving and certainly enough that it’s kept me engaged for over 30 years.”
And, although his induction into the Hall of Fame celebrates his career so far, he’s from ready to call it quits.
“There are certainly plenty of different genres of games I’d like to dip my toes in,” Boon said.