Activision Co-Founder and Gaming Pioneer Joins GreenPark Sports to Lead Next-Gen Analytics
As in sports and esports, a team’s success rests on the talent and experience of its members. GreenPark Sports is led by a roster of all-star executives, advisors and investors. This includes Alan Miller, the company’s senior vice president of analytics and a gaming industry luminary with a career spanning companies such as Atari and Activision.
A personalized game is what every game designer aims to build and machine learning is making this possible. In 2010, Alan was introduced to the founders of deltaDNA, a game analytics company, and began working with them on the use of data science to understand player behavior in video games with the objective of improving the players’ experience. The combination of using immensely powerful computing technology and state of the art data science to understand and improve the emotional experience was fascinating to Alan and since then he’s devoted his career to it.
“I love sports. I’ve played sports all my life and I’ve tried to infuse my enjoyment of sports into all of the video games I’ve worked on,” said Alan Miller, co-founder of Activision. “And now I’m bringing my passion for sports and video games to GreenPark.” As Senior Vice President of Analytics, Alan will utilize his four decades of experience in the games industry in conjunction with state-of-the-art data science and machine learning to deliver personalized game experiences to GreenPark players. “I believe the most important use of analytics in gaming is to personalize the experience for each player and maximize their enjoyment,” said Alan. “Our system analyzes each player and helps them find new games and experiences within our app that they’ll enjoy. It will provide tips on how to make progress when they’re stuck. And it will help them connect with new friends that share their interests. And it will provide much more.”
Alan grew up in Newark, California, where he excelled in both baseball and basketball. He later attended UC Berkeley where he graduated with a B.S. in electrical engineering and computer science. After graduating in 1973, he developed industrial and aerospace control systems in Silicon Valley before finding his calling in the gaming industry.
In 1977, Alan joined Atari as the fourth hire to design games for their new programmable game system, the Video Computer System (VCS) - also known as the revolutionary Atari 2600. This system is credited as the first successful video game console, and the platform that made gaming mainstream with phenomenons such as Pong, Breakout, Space Invaders and Pac-Man. After spending two years at Atari developing several multi-million selling games for the 2600 and co-authoring the operating system for the Atari 400/800 computer, he decided it was time to bring his vision to life by founding one of gaming’s most important companies, Activision.
Alan co-founded Activision in 1979 with Atari colleagues Dave Crane and Bob Whitehead with the vision of developing richer gaming experiences. Activision exploded in popularity and grew to $160 million in annual revenue within three years, at the time making Activision the fastest growing VC-funded company in American history.
In 1984 Alan founded Accolade, a game publisher known for its sports and driving games. Prominent titles included:
- Hardball – the first game resembling a televised baseball game
- Mean 18 / Jack Nicklaus Golf – the first game using 3D modeling of golf courses
- Test Drive
- Charles Barkley’s Shut Up and Jam Basketball
- Pele World Tournament Soccer
- Brett Hull Ice Hockey
- 4th and Inches / Mike Ditka’s Power Football
Alan left Accolade in 1994 and co-founded a health education company, Click Health, that used Nintendo and PC games to teach children how to better manage chronic conditions like asthma and diabetes. In 2001, he teamed up with his longtime friend Dave Crane at Skyworks to build consumer brand-sponsored online games and websites. Since 2010, Alan has focused on developing gaming analytics solutions at deltaDNA, SAP, and Cryptic Studios.
"Data science for games has evolved rapidly over the last 10 years. We are now able to analyze massive amounts of data on immensely powerful cloud-based analytics databases and get the results back in seconds. And with that additional computing power, we can now use many different aspects of data science to learn about players and to improve the play experience."
Perhaps the most impressive tool we use is machine learning. By analyzing large amounts of game data from a lot of players, machine learning can provide a good understanding of the many different types of behaviors in a game, so much so that we are able, for example, with reasonable certainty, to predict if a player is having difficulty or losing interest in the game and is likely to quit the game. With that knowledge we are then able to send the player hints on how to make progress or introduce them to a new part of the game they’ve never experienced. But that’s only part of the equation. Machine learning also allows us to know how each player tends to play the game and what their preferences are. With that knowledge we are able to tailor the experience for each player in a way that will be most relevant to that player and provides the most enjoyment for that player."
Although this industry has made significant progress in our ability to personalize the game experience for players, we are still in the early stages. I look forward to continuing to improve our ability to do that for GreenPark’s players and provide the most enjoyable experience for each individual player.
In his role as head of analytics at GreenPark, Alan will analyze player game data to improve the player experience and contribute his wisdom and deep industry expertise to the company’s vision of creating rich, social, fan-driven interactive experiences.