On How I Managed to Wake Up Famous

I live in a freezing apartment in upstate NY.  Rent is $750 a month.  I buy groceries at Wal-Mart.  I buy clothes at Target.  I drive a 1994 Honda Accord that was a hand-me-down from my sister.  Yet, somehow, this happened:


“The guy that made this game is nuts.”


As the sole creator of the upcoming Xbox Live Arcade game Dishwasher, Silva found himself the poster boy of Microsoft’s efforts to “democratize game development” at the Game Developers Conference. The Utica, NY independent gamemaker shared the stage with game design luminaries like Tomonobu Itagaki and Peter Molyneux at Microsoft’s GDC keynote.

LA Times:

The 26-year-old from Utica, N.Y., paid his way through college by scrubbing dishes at a diner. That job might help him become the Quentin Tarantino of video games: He used it as inspiration for “The Dishwasher,” in which the title character becomes a ninja and slashes his way out of a kitchen overrun by villains.

Ars Technica:

“James has quit his job… it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.” James Silva quickly became one of the stars of the GDC this year, and the video Microsoft created to highlight his game and one-man-team ethic showed that it knows how cool James Silva is. Microsoft desperately wants a piece of that cool. 

For the record, Microsoft never quite came across as desperately wanting a piece of my cool, but I thought that quote was too good to leave out.  The XNA team are just about the coolest bunch of geeks I’ve ever met; it was awesome meeting up with them for classy San Francisco dining–I got to meet the team behind the tech that the Dishwasher is based on and they got to meet the guy behind the game that shows off their tech.  There was a lot of mutual gushing.

February 28, 2008 posted by James

Filed under: GDC,Press,The Dishwasher,XNA

8 Comments Comment away!

  • 1. xnowandtheworldx  |  February 29, 2008 at 6:18 PM

    I must say James, you’ve really go it going for you. :) I mostly program in PHP, and javascript, but trying to learn some XNA as my dream is to go to college for game programming(2 years left :\) but man congrats on your success! I’m still trying to just get my webiste successful. haha. It might be of some use to you if you ever create a gameplay though. http://www.gametages.com if you want to check it out. But keep up the good work can’t wait to download Dishwasher on the XBLA!

  • 2. hameld  |  March 4, 2008 at 4:54 AM

    Congrats James! I’ve been following your progress and played the demo myself… I was surprised that FINALLY someone but a nice long list of moves into a game instead of the same hack, hack, slash animation over and over (Ninja Gaiden Black had a decent list of moves). A friend and I were checking out the demo when I told him that the guy who created it is about 15 miles away… he bout crapped himself :)

    If you start to feel overwhelmed (especially w/ testing), get the guys up at SUNY to help you. From what I know, they still have the Gamers club going so you should be able to rope them in easily ;)

    Good luck staying warm (and w/ the game)!

  • 3. zac439  |  March 4, 2008 at 11:26 PM

    Hi there,
    You’re a very difficult man to come into contact with. I’ve scoured the web for any contact details, and you’ve listed nothing.

    Anywho, I run a recently started XNA blog at http://XNAGameDev.com – and would love to ask you a few questions for an interview.

    I realize it isn’t the type of exposure that you get from big-name magazines and websites, and I’ll certainly compensate you for your time if that’d convince you.

    You can contact me further at:

    Look forward to hearing from you!

  • 4. masterofpuppets2  |  March 6, 2008 at 6:35 AM

    Can’t wait for it to finally come out. But dammit, I have to ask again. What about a PC version? I’m itching to play it! :)

  • 5. jlacroix82  |  March 7, 2008 at 2:25 AM

    Hello! I’m an Indie game designer also. I’m nowhere near as good as you, though. I’ve made several games already, with Game Maker. I’m considering XNA, you’ve inspired me to give it a shot at least. I just have some questions I was hoping you could answer. If you have time you could answer the questions here for all to benefit. :)

    1.) How long did it take you to make Dishwasher, from the point where you wrote the first line of code up until its status as of today?

    2.) Are there any XNA tutorials or books you could recommend that helped you get good with XNA?

    3.) Did you already have a good knowledge of C# before going into it?

    4.) Any advice you can give to someone like me, that has made several games but struggles to get the games well-known? I made a game (Oriontide: Forever In The Eternal Darkness of The Nameless) and I’m trying to improve the quality of the game to make people like it.

    5.) Perhaps using Game Maker is limiting my games popularity?

  • 6. Arnie  |  April 11, 2011 at 9:13 PM

    THX that’s a great anwesr!

  • 7. Goatbot  |  April 11, 2011 at 9:51 PM


    I believe James released his own XNA book a little while back after the 1st Dishwasher was released. Probably worth checking out.

    Its on one of his blog posts here somewhere. Just go back a bit and have a search.

  • 8. Goatbot  |  April 11, 2011 at 9:56 PM

    Ha so theres an answer. Bit late. I really should check these dates.

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