It is with great sadness I pen this tribute. This week I was informed of the sad passing of my dear friend and colleague, Ian Hetherington. Ian passed away following a short illness.
For those of you who worked closely with Ian I know you’ll miss his drive and passion. I had the pleasure of working very closely with him over the last couple of years, and whilst I was probably his worst nightmare, demanding everything yesterday, we did manage to create something great in Let’s Explore: Oceans, and hopefully something ground-breaking in Vodiac.
For those of you who didn’t know him that well let me give you a little flavour of what made the man ‘great’ – Back in the days of the ZX Spectrum there was a company based in Liverpool called Imagine Games. It produced some amazing early games but sadly ran into financial trouble in the mid 80’s. Ian was an employee of this company and when it got into trouble, he spotted an opportunity. Psygnosis, his company, emerged from the ashes of Imagine. The company Ian founded went from strength to strength in what was a fast-growing gaming market. He produced such legendary games as Shadow of the Beast, and probably most famously Wipeout and Lemmings – two games many of us will have spent hours playing.
In 1993 Sony spotted the talents of Ian and Psygnosis and they acquired his business. Ian’s career then took another twist as he was asked to get involved in the creation of a new product called the Sony PlayStation. As Ian often told me, the first iteration of which was stuck together with gaffer tape and bits of plastic. Whilst it wasn’t perfect, it worked and so began an incredible journey for Ian and Sony. Ian headed up their European operations and saw the PlayStation become a major success.
His interest in computer gaming continued long after he left Sony. He had a canny ability of spotting talent and trends. One of his former employees, David Jones, went on to create the global hit, Grant Theft Auto. He was just one of the stars he spotted and nurtured.
Ian joined Immotion originally as a consultant, a role that quickly evolved to him heading up the Home-Based Entertainment division overseeing the creation of Let’s Explore Oceans, and more latterly, Vodiac. Ian has been a driving force in this business guiding the team through unchartered waters as it created something that didn’t exist, not only in record time, but also in the middle of a global pandemic.
Ian’s had two great passions, his family and racing cars. The latter he was quite good at, winning numerous trophies as well as conquering several lap records for racing vintage Ferraris. I remember only a few weeks ago we were having a quick pint in a pub in London following a Vodiac planning meeting. Ian was telling the crowd how he used to race Ferrari’s and was the proud owner of a couple of lap records. One of our fellow drinkers quickly pointed out that his image wasn’t one of a serious racing driver. He certainly wasn’t one to outwardly boast of his success, but you didn’t have to scratch too far to release he was a formidable guy.
His family meant the world to him. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Elaine, and his three children, Rosaline, Liz, and Bengie.
On a personal note, I have lost a great friend, and business colleague, I will miss our chats, his passion, and his drive. We will strive to make Vodiac the success he and I talked of, and to create a legacy to which he would be proud.
Immotion Group plc