The Game Changer: Digital Chocolate's Trip Hawkins The last time this entrepreneur matched up against an industry giant, things didn't end so well. But it wasn't game over.
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Trip Hawkins is running late for his interview at the headquarters of Digital Chocolate, the social and mobile game company he founded in San Mateo, Calif., but that's OK, because the delay gives me time to try and beat Hawkins at one of his own games: Tower Bloxx.
The goal in Tower Bloxx, one of DC's most popular downloads for the iPhone and Facebook, is simple but addicting: Stack as many building blocks as high as you can without toppling them (and see how you score against your friends). The catch is that both the blocks and the tower are swaying randomly across the screen. With persistence and some finger-to-eye coordination, I finally, successfully drop the 68th block. A cheesy photo of Hawkins boots up on the screen and a congratulatory message proclaims, "This guy might be in the Video Game Hall of Fame, but he's no match for you."
The Hall of Fame is just one milestone of Trip Hawkins' gaming legacy. Three years before Apple introduced the iPhone, he was pimping something he called "social apps." In a speech at a 2005 wireless industry event in San Francisco, he predicted that these apps would become a multibillion-dollar opportunity that would bring sweeping changes to the entire industry. But back then, with Facebook strictly a college phenomenon and Twitter still a year from inception, no one paid much attention.