Thanks to his hugely popular “Guitar Hero” and “Rock Band,” both of which his studio created, Rigopulos has inspired geeky gamers everywhere to get off the couch and live out their musical fantasies. A professionally trained composer and avid gamer since age 3, he co-founded Harmonix in 1995 because he wanted to give nonmusicians the experience of musicmaking.

“Music games are a big deal because they are genuinely changing people’s relationship to music,” says the company president and CEO, who helped engineer an acquisition deal by MTV Games to the tune of $175 million last year. “I think ‘Rock Band’ is changing the trajectory of music entertainment in a material way. When people become active participants in musicmaking, it deepens their connection to that music and amplifies its emotional impact on them.”

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