The real guitar heroes
Several times over the past decade, Wayne King and Mark Smalley have walked into friends’ lounge rooms to see children — or in some cases, adults — playing games on an Xbox.
While they are not the type to brag, every now and then they admit they can’t help themselves.
“I tell them, ‘Well, I helped create part of that thing you’re playing’, ” Mr Smalley told WestBusiness. “The usual reaction is, yeah bulls…”
It is one of the reasons why the duo — who operate out of a nondescript studio in Osborne Park dubbed “the submarine”— have never talked to the media about their business.
For one, it is hard to believe that hardware elements of the world’s most popular computer game were created by a bunch of Perth engineers.
Under the business name Logi-Com, Mr King and Mr Smalley, along with a small team of four other engineers, created the wireless technology for the guitar in Guitar Hero, allowing millions to parade around their lounge rooms performing guitar solos. Thirteen million guitars were sold in the first year.
Overall, Mr King and Mr Smalley have contributed to 80 Microsoft projects since 2005, including integral parts of the game controller for the new Xbox One, the drums for Band Hero and the skateboard used in the Tony Hawk game.
“The stress levels at some points can get pretty high, ” Mr Smalley said.
“We would have someone from Microsoft ring us and say, ‘Mark, Wayne, are we good to go on 13 million of these?’ We’d say yeah, yeah, ah . . . sure.”
The duo, who have known each over for more than 30 years, started the business when a homesick Mr King returned to Perth in 2005 after a five-year stint at Microsoft headquarters in the US.
“The Xbox 360 was just about to launch, ” Mr King said.
“They asked us if we could solve some problems and, of course, we said, ‘Well yes, yes we can’. And it just snowballed it from there.”
The team is still working as vendors, or contractors, for Microsoft and have a few undisclosed projects “in the pipeline”.
Mr King and Mr Smalley are both fathers and have had to put up with years of queries from their children about what they were working on. “Usually I have to say, ‘Well . . . you’ll have to wait until it comes out at Kmart’.”
© The West Australian
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