Mark Turmell is a game developer who worked at Midway for 17 years before moving to EA and, before too long, Zynga. Turmell's career in games stretches all the way back to the beginning of the industry. He programmed his first game, Sneakers, on an Apple II computer in 1980. He went on to program game cartridges for the Atari 2600, including Fast Eddie and Turmoil.
Turmell actually had the opportunity to become a fledgling game designer for a company that was just starting out called Electronic Arts. Being more interested in programming cartridges for the 2600 rather than the computer games Electronic Arts planned to publish, he passed on the opportunity (as well as turning down a job offer from Bill Gates) and instead went to work for Activision. He later worked for Hasbro on developing a game system that would let players interact with videotaped content. This system, dubbed "NEMO", was scrapped but the concepts Turmell helped develop would go on to be used in FMV games like "Night Trap" (which was originally intended to be released on Hasbro's platform).
He attended Ferris State University for 3 years before leaving early to focus on work in the video game business. He got a job at Midway in 1989 and he was the lead programmer and designer of many of the games that came out of Midway Chicago including
Smash TV (which by his own admission was inspired by his favorite game Robotron). He also did some additional programming on all of Midway Chicago's titles including the NBA series. He then became creative director and project lead on Midway Sports titles starting with NBA Jam, NFL Blitz, and the original NBA Ballers. Most of the games he's worked on at Midway have been both critical and commercial successes.
He then moved to EA in October of 2009 where he's a senior creative director at EA Tiburon. He is was a consultant for EA's revival of the NBA Jam franchise which was released for the Nintendo Wii, followed by Xbox 360, and PlayStation 3 shortly thereafter.
- Canadian singer/songwriter Dan Bryk's album "Lover's Leap" begins with a song entitled "Mark Turmell 2.0"
- Turmell's games, such as NBA Jam, are known for their secret playable characters. These secret characters often included many of the developers including Turmell himself. The code for playing as Turmell in NBA Jam, and NBA Jam Tournament Edition is MJT Mar 22, his initials and birthdate.