When I meet Vlambeer’s Rami Ismail, it’s in the middle of the annual Develop conference in Brighton. He’s a striking figure in a sea that’s half middle-aged businessmen and half wide-eyed, unshaven young developers in t-shirts: improbably tall, wearing a leather jacket on a hot summer’s day, hair everywhere, and a mile-a-minute patter that conveys extreme confidence without evident arrogance. He’s nearing the end of Ramadan, which means he hasn’t eaten during the day for several weeks, but has the energy and enthusiasm of someone about to climb Everest. Like his company’s offbeat action games and his often highly outspoken social media style or not, it is little surprise that this guy became so successful – though of course the raw, joyful appeal of games including Nuclear Throne, Super Crate Box, Luftrausers and Ridiculous Fishing went a long way towards that.
But would the confidence and conviction that he has when he wades headlong into the gaming issues of the day or, as he does in his keynote Develop speech the next day, declare that listening to one’s customers is not necessarily the best policy, be there if he didn’t already have the safety net of that success? In the unedited transcript below, we talk about that, about his feelings towards his own customers, indie ‘luck’, why games want rockstars, Ubisoft’s women characters controversy and why he doesn’t feel he can tell anyone else how to be successful.
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