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'Fallout' and 'Skyrim' Dev Jeff Gardiner on Entrepreneurship and Mental Health

After working on 'Fallout 3', 'Fallout 4', 'Skyrim' and 'Fallout 76', game developer Jeff Gardiner is starting his own journey: Becoming the CEO of a new game studio.

You might not know the name Jeff Gardiner. But chances are, if you’ve played video games at any point in the past 15 years, you’ve at least seen—or more likely played—one of the titles he’s worked on.

Jeff started working at Bethesda, one of gaming’s most successful developers, in 2005. He served as a developer on hit games like Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim and Fallout 4. But not every game Jeff led was a success, with his last Bethesda project, Fallout 76, releasing to harsh criticism due to numerous bugs.

Jeff is now the founder and CEO of Something Wicked Games, which is developing a new role-playing game, Wyrdsong. Jeff is this week’s guest on ‘Visionaries’ with Jacob Wolf.

In the episode, Jeff and Jacob discuss the mental health of entrepreneurship and the pressure and fear of failure that comes with starting something new after working at some of the most successful companies in their respective fields. Jeff talks about the release of Fallout 76, the importance of making a good first impression with gamers and how that often clashes with publishing deadlines and shareholder expectations.

The two also talk about consolidation among video game publishers, in lieu of the soon-to-be-completed Microsoft–Activision Blizzard deal. Microsoft previously acquired Bethesda Softworks, Jeff’s former employer, in March 2021.

Speaking of Bethesda, the widely-successful game studio is set to launch its biggest swing in more than a decade with Starfield, a new space action role-playing game led by Fallout and Skyrim director Todd Howard. Starfield is set to release on September 6. In this episode, Jacob and Jeff discuss why Starfield will be so vital in the future of the company and why Jeff is betting his former colleagues will once again entertain millions of gamers around the world.

(A full transcript of the episode will be available soon on this page.)

You can listen to this episode of ‘Visionaries’ and many more on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you find your podcasts. Subscribe to the Jacob Wolf & Mikhail Klimentov Patreon for more ‘Visionaries’ exclusive content.