Profile: Andrea Rizzi
Nicoletta Serao Senior Associate at LCA Studio Legale, Italy; formerly Senior Associate at Andrea Rizzi & Partners

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When Gaetano asked me to share some memories of Andrea to open the next issue of the Interactive Entertainment Law Review, I knew that writing these lines would be painful and extremely challenging. What I didn’t realize right away was that, for me, writing without Andrea here to review and refine the final version of my draft would make it – if possible – even harder.

So, please bear with me while I try my best to pay tribute to one of my favourite people in the whole world, making every effort to speak from the heart using a language that is not my mother tongue. I may end up being overly sentimental, I know, but I just don’t have it in me to avoid it.

It’s been almost seven months since the day Andrea passed away. During these seven months, I’ve changed jobs, met new colleagues, had a baby, and spent some quality time with my child and my family. Even so, nothing has come close to filling the void that Andrea left behind.

At this point, I’ve accepted that probably nothing ever will.

I was fortunate enough to meet a unique and exceptional person, one of those precious friends you’re sure you’ll keep close for life. The flip side is that when you end up outliving these irreplaceable friends, you’re bound to miss them for the rest of your life.

As anyone who met Andrea, even for just a minute, surely noticed, Andrea was a passionate soul. I’d say maybe too passionate for his own good (and sometimes for mine as well).

One of Andrea’s biggest passions was his work, as he was talented enough to turn one of his passions, video games, into a career. Interestingly, we could say that he managed to turn his way of living into a video game.

As in a video game, in Andrea’s life, there were allies always at his side and nemeses to contend with. There were countless levels, with obstacles to overcome, using every drop of energy gained and then sitting back, hoping to see that energy regenerated.

Andrea loved, hated, suffered, and fought harder than most ever will. He flared up easily and was completely unable to let things roll off his back. One could say (but Andrea would hate anyone for saying it, so that someone isn’t me) that despite all the efforts he made to distance himself from Italy and certain Italian stereotypical behaviours, he was Italian to the core.

Let’s be clear: unlike him, I’m genuinely convinced that being very Italian is a good thing, especially as Andrea represented the best version of an Italian.

He loved the sea, good food, and good wine. He was at ease with – and able to put at ease – anyone. He was brilliant, quick-thinking, curious, and creative; he was fun, and, most importantly, he knew how to have fun.

On the other hand, his complete inability to be indifferent to life, and his innate intolerance towards some all-Italian flaws meant that he had to deal with quite a lot of anger. In general, any inequity made him furious; he hated laziness and shortcuts and abhorred hypocrisy and schemers.

He believed he was too Italian to live elsewhere and not Italian enough to live in Italy, which caused him growing frustration. However, from where I’m standing, I’d say that, instead, these traits made him suited to encourage the change he demanded from Italy and Italians, and, in fact, he had begun to do just that.

He created a firm where servility, good breeding, and appearances counted for nothing, and meritocracy was the only gauge. He valued ambition and encouraged cooperation at any level, rejecting any form of cutthroat careerism. He promoted responsibility over hierarchy and was never afraid of allowing people next to him to take the stage whenever they felt up to it.

Through his firm, Andrea was helping the growth of the Italian interactive entertainment industry by creating bridges connecting young Italian artists with international players and facilitating a better understanding of the video game industry among Italian institutions.

Andrea never missed an opportunity to contribute to serious academic research projects, no matter how ambitious or time-consuming they were. Furthermore, he encouraged us, his colleagues, to do the same during our working hours to ensure an in-depth analysis of the issues at hand (financial sustainability be damned).

I have to believe that the changes he initiated will not die with him. Every person who had the luck to work with him, hear him speak at a conference (often with his eyes closed and at a very low volume), have a beer with him (or most likely four), and, in general, anyone who studies with passion and the ambition to change the world through knowledge, could be a part of the change Andrea wanted to see in this world.

Now, as I am well aware that these few lines are not even remotely enough to pay tribute to Andrea’s huge personality, let alone to revive his spark and inspire those of you reading this issue of Interactive Entertainment Law Review, I’ve decided to complement this short introduction by sharing a playlist I created, collecting all the songs Andrea ever shared with me over the years we worked together.

The songs we choose speak for us. Not only do they express how we feel, but they also use a universal language to reveal who we are, where we come from, and where we are headed.

The title of this playlist is ‘Salmon Dance’, after Andrea’s favourite song by The Chemical Brothers. He used to send me that song every time he felt that we were taking an uphill path, but in the right direction, and that I might need motivation.

I hope this playlist can evoke, better than I did, a pleasant memory of him for those who met him or simply serve as a soundtrack to an inspired day.