OPINION – Since Thomas Anderson, aka Neo, is a famous video game developer in The Matrix: Resurrections. Naturally, we here at theGeek editorial staff started to wonder if there was a real, well-known video game developer who could be somewhat a good match for Thomas Anderson, played by Keanu Reeves.
Well, we think he’s none other than Sami Jarvi, aka Sam Lake, legendary designer for Remedy and the father of the Max Payne games and other Remedy titles. We’ve put together five reasons why Sam Lake bears a striking resemblance to the middle-aged Thomas A. Anderson, and his games are more or less related to The Matrix.
- The first Max Payne was Sam Lake’s most crucial game has always been strongly linked to the first Matrix, in its style, atmosphere and bullet time effect, which was featured in both The Matrix and Max Payne. Development of the game began in 1996 before the Matrix was filmed, but the game was finally released (after several delays) in 2001. The game features a number of oddities and features. For example, a door explosion in one scene is strikingly similar to the one seen in the film, and the Matrix’s famous office lobby shootout scene is also featured in the game in a track called “Nothing to Lose”. Overall, the game’s visuals and effects are reminiscent of The Matrix in many ways, but the bullet time effect (officially owned by Warner) is definitely a clear tie-in.
- Max Payne has been trilogied in the same way, and similar to what was expected in the Matrix/Warner relationship (i.e. taking away the rights to make the film from the original creators), Rockstar has taken over the franchise, and the third instalment is no longer being developed by Remedy, but by Rockstar North – in other words, what almost happened to Lana Wachowski happened to Max Payne.
- Since there was no money for actors in the first Max Payne, the handsome, charismatic Sam Lake’s face was used as the model for Max Payne’s physique, so just as in The Matrix: Resurrections, Lake put “himself” into the first Max Payne – although obviously only in appearance for the game.
- Sam Lake is a little younger than Keanu Reeves, but not by much: Reeves is 57, Lake 51. Both are still in good shape, and, like Anderson in the film, Sam Lake is a game development legend, not only with Max Payne but also with games like Alan Wake, Quantum Break and Control. Lake also appears in Alan Wake as a cameo: on an in-game talk show, he is asked to do the legendary grin that we saw in the first Max Payne, and he does it. So Sam Lake is a true design star who also pokes fun at himself with such self-deprecating remarks.
- All Remedy games have somehow had the same sci-fi ship mystique that characterises The Matrix, but this is particularly true of Quantum Break or Control. Lake wrote the concept and story for all the games and was often the creative director and executive producer.
Of course, we are by no means saying that Lana Wachowski must have had Sam Lake (or any particular developer) in mind when she and her brother and perhaps their parents came up with the story. Still, it is almost sure that they were familiar with Max Payne and its famous developer.
Another guess would be David Perry, a game designer, also young in the late nineties, now 54, who was also a game design star at the time – but has now left AAA games and is pretty much forgotten by the games industry. However, the Wachowski’s almost certainly aren’t because Shiny Entertainment made Enter the Matrix, the video game tie-in to The Matrix: Reloaded (the second Matrix), and the Wachowski brothers were very active in the making of that game. In real life, Dave Perry looks more like Neo’s “boss”, Smith, the head of the game development company.
These two famous, good-looking star designers, young at the time but now in their fifties, must have been a strong inspiration for the Wachowski’s, who are also very much involved in the world of gaming and have been active in the creation of several Matrix video games, such as Enter the Matrix and Matrix: The Path of Neo. The Matrix: Online – the latter was an MMORPG, and the death of the original human Morpheus in this game is considered canon, which is why Laurence Fishburne was not even in the film as Morpheus.