NEW YORK CITY -- Eugene Jarvis, noted arcade videogame designer and founder of the Raw Thrills studio, will be honored by the Amusement Music Owners Association of New York as its 2009 Man of the Year. The tribute recognizes Jarvis's three decades of distinguished service to coin-operated amusements. The AMOA-NY Man of the Year will be fêted at a gala tribute at Riccardo's by the Bridge on Monday night, Feb. 8, here.
"Through his designs and leadership, Eugene Jarvis has helped the coin-op industry grow and reach new levels of success," said AMOA-NY president Ken Goldberg of PLK Vending (Woodside, NY). "We owe a lot of gratitude to him and his achievements. His games have allowed the operating community to flourish."
Jarvis began his career in 1977 at Atari Games after graduating from the University of California (Berkeley) where he studied electrical engineering and computer science. At Atari, he worked as a game designer under industry legend Nolan Bushnell.
Three years later he headed to Chicago to program pinball games for Williams Electronics, and worked alongside another industry legend, Steve Ritchie. At Williams, and its sister company Midway Manufacturing Co., Jarvis developed a number of hit videogames, including Firepower, Defender, Robotron, NARC, Smash TV and the Cruis'n driving series.
Midway left the pinball industry in 1999 to focus on videogames, but decided in June 2001 decided to shut down its video arcade division, citing financial losses. At that time, Jarvis cofounded Raw Thrills Inc. with Midway alumni Andrew Eloff and Deepak Deo.
The studio's first independent coin-op game was Target: Terror, a light-gun shooter. Its second was The Fast and the Furious, a racing game based on the Universal Studios action movie. In 2006, Raw Thrills published Big Buck Hunter Pro, developed by Play Mechanix, another Chicago-based game developer, and The Fast and the Furious Superbikes. It released in 2007 a sequel to The Fast and the Furious titled The Fast and the Furious: Drift.
Play Mechanix, which was established in 1995 by former Midway games designer George Petro, merged with Raw Thrills in 2006. Betson Enterprises, the nation's largest distributor of coin-op amusement and vending equipment, is the marketing and manufacturing arm of both brands.
In addition to Big Buck Hunter Pro, the two game companies worked together on such arcade hits as Big Buck Safari, Big Buck Open Season and the recently previewed Terminator Salvation. Separately, Raw Thrills has recently released two more arcade hits in 2009: Guitar Hero Arcade and H2Overdrive.
Over the past few years, Raw Thrills and its games have been recognized by such national trade groups as the Amusement and Music Operators Association, the American Amusement Machine Association and the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. In 2008 and '07, AAMA presented its Manufacturer of the Year award to the company.
"Being honored by the AMOA-NY as Man of the Year is especially meaningful to me," Jarvis said. "Although my games and companies have received numerous awards over the years, this is the first time I have been personally recognized by the arcade game industry. There is no better judge of value in our industry then the game operators. Hopefully no one will ask me for a refund! It is a great honor and after 33 years in the business -- I am ready to party."
AMOA-NY Inc. is a nonprofit group that represents and promotes the interests of businesses that own and install coin-operated amusement and music equipment in locations throughout New York State. Tickets for February's event can be purchased by calling AMOA- NY executive director Danny Frank at (212) 279-1041.