The Man Behind Devolver’s Money: Fork ‘Get Paid, Get Laid’ Parker

Devolver Digital sent the above image when GameFront requested a headshot of Chief Financial Officer Fork Parker. It included only the label “Not Fabio.” -Ed.


For Fork Parker, video games have always been about working an angle.

The chief financial officer of publisher Devolver Digital is known for continually increasing his personal mountain of cash through savvy entries into the video game market. Whether it’s by taking part in publishing breakout hits such as Hotline Miami, or by taking advantage of emerging trends and customers with devilishly clever campaigns such as the Forkstarter, Parker seems to have a gift for turning sprites and pixels into wealth.

Indeed, it was that very gift that helped lead Parker to co-found Devolver Digital with Mike Wilson, Harry Miller, and Rick Stults. But it wasn’t a short road from Parker’s childhood in Texas to his CFO position at Devolver. And Devolver is far from the first game-based business enterprise Parker has taken on.

Birth of a Texas game tycoon

Parker grew up in Houston, Texas, where he discovered at a young age the thrill of turning games into profit. His first encounter with finding ways to make money off the games industry took place at a local GameStop, Parker said in an e-mail interview with GameFront — although technically it would have been called Babbage’s at the time.

“As a child, I purchased a used copy of Duck Hunt for the NES and switched the label so it looked like Dragon Warrior II and sold it to back to Gamestop for $40,” Parker said. “I was hooked and my days of making money in video games off the misfortune of others were off and running.”

Parker’s parents undoubtedly had something to do with the business acumen he would acquire during his young life, although he soon surpassed them. His father was a Texas oil tycoon, and his mother was an amateur mud wrestler named Sheila.

It was his mother’s career that lent him the unusual name of “Fork.”

“As far as I can remember, my mom was smoking hot and a brilliant mud wrestler that turned the game on its head,” he said. “Really changed everything about the sport. I got my name from a particular incident where a frustrated opponent stabbed my pregnant mother with a fork after being dominated in the mud wrestling ring.”

Unparalleled success soon found Parker after his first forays into business, and that impacted his family life. Just as with his often-absent father, business came first for the young would-be tycoon.

Of the upbringing that would make him wealthy to the point of being uncomfortable explaining how wealthy he is, however, Parker said only that it was “typical.”

“My childhood was typical; when I wasn’t managing a network of indie lemonade stands I was buying and selling cartridges on the oft-forgotten NESDAQ used Nintendo game market,” he told GameFront. “I made my first million at eight years old and never looked back.”

That also was about the time Parker cut his parents loose, at least when it came to his financial dealings.

“Father was never around; business came first. Mother and a rotating door of nannies and butlers mostly looked after me in my youth. Once I was old enough to afford a security detail, I hired the best money could buy to keep my parents out of my business.”

Publishing: Full control achieved

Cold as it may have been, it seems Parker’s decision to go it alone was a fortuitous one, at least until he co-founded Devolver. At that point, the business model changed. Instead of exploiting sell-back loopholes and trading cartridges, Parker and his compatriots went to the source: the developers actually making the games.

It was a new world from which Parker could extract money.

“I was attending a seminar in Switzerland about taking advantage of ignorant independent game developers and I met most of what would become Devolver Digital there,” Parker said. “We chatted a bit about getting immensely wealthy on the backs of others and Devolver Digital was born. You’re not going to print this, right?”

“I made my first million at eight years old and never looked back.”

Devolver started with the Serious Sam game series, and has since expanded to include a variety of indie titles, such as Vlambeer’s Luftrausers, Deconstructeam’s Gods Will Be Watching, and other small games such as the one-man-made first-person shooter Heavy Bullets and the former Ludum Dare game jam entry Titan Souls.

Parker said the process for finding those games and bringing them into the Devolver fold varies, but all are united by the elements the company searches for in its games and developers.

“Some games are pitched to us, some come from the tireless efforts of our team that scout the Internet and events for the extraordinary,” he explained. “Our team looks for something, sometimes undefinable, about the game that stands out in a singular way and sets itself apart from others in the genre or in the market overall. The other part is the team, we look for honest people with an undeniable passion for their art — we want to work with and for them.”

Join the Conversation   

* required field

By submitting a comment here you grant GameFront a perpetual license to reproduce your words and name/web site in attribution. Inappropriate or irrelevant comments will be removed at an admin's discretion.

3 Comments on The Man Behind Devolver’s Money: Fork ‘Get Paid, Get Laid’ Parker

Luke Davey

On August 5, 2014 at 9:50 am

I get the feeling Phil would have tried to turn this into a character assassination on the grounds of sexism if he hadn’t been completely professionally neutered over his Sarkeesian pandering.

Phil Hornshaw

On August 5, 2014 at 9:57 am

@Luke Davey

Hahaha professionally neutered?

Mike

On August 5, 2014 at 11:57 am

This guy sounds like the most baller motherf’r to get drunk with.