Polygon: Two days in Colombia with the founder of Rockstar San Diego

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Diego Angel is stumped. Really stumped. Try as he might, he can’t seem to find the answer he’s looking for. Maybe 10, 20 minutes pass, and still nothing.

He says he doesn’t know why he moved back to Medellín, Colombia.

On the one hand, he says he always knew he’d come back. He’s from Colombia; he spent his teenage years here in the city before leaving for America. He knew he’d come back. But when is a different question.

In 1984, he founded Angel Studios, initially as a contract developer specializing in 3D graphics, then becoming a game studio, joining Nintendo’s Dream Team of developers before moving on to making games for Microsoft, Capcom, and Rockstar. Rockstar ended up buying Angel Studios, acquiring its engine and the then-in-development Red Dead Revolver from its previous publisher, Capcom. Angel Studios became Rockstar San Diego, and the Red Dead franchise went on to become one of the most successful in the game industry.

But Angel wasn’t there to see it. A few years after the acquisition, after splitting his time working for Rockstar’s headquarters in New York and here in Colombia, he resigned from the company and stayed in Medellín. He’s just not sure why, he says.

We’re sitting here in Medellín on his patio trying to figure it out. I flew in yesterday and have spent the day today talking to Angel about his life, passions, and career. Discussing how he went from a game developer to running numerous restaurants in Medellín. Talking about Rockstar, lying to Nintendo, and everything in between. Everything except why he left Rockstar. We won’t come to a conclusion tonight.

Behind us, down the mountain, the lights of Medellín shine. It’s a lively, colorful city, one with a complicated, violent history. It’s where Angel calls home, and for the next two days he might even learn something new about himself here.

 
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