On Valentine’s Day this year I was far from my girlfriend at the University of Michigan, with fellow Poptenner Peter Brauer, filming legendary game designer, Sid Meier, build a game from scratch in 48 hours. It was at once enlightening and inspiring to learn about his process. Now it’s here for everyone to bask in Sid’s beneficence.
He is one of the most acclaimed game designers of all time having created everything from Civilization I through IV, Pirates!, Railroad Tycoon, and dozens of other titles. Most recently he was the keynote speech at the Gamer Developer’s Conference in San Francisco where he discussed gamer psychology. Always a true believer in the idea that games will one day rule the world, Sid Meier wants to inspire a new generation of game designers. Namely the ones from his alma mater at Michigan which he returns to create a video game in 48 hours, and judge the entries for the “7th Annual Wolverine Soft 48hr Game Design Contest”. His son Ryan Meier, (at the time but no longer) president of the organization, co-hosts the event.
Sid first used a computer in Michigan when all there was were punch cards, print-outs, and one mistake cost hours of time. On that IBM mainframe he designed the first tic-tac-toe game, was chastised for using it to make games, and was nearly kicked out. The horrors! After college Sid met Ace pilot Bill Stealey, challenged him to a game of “Red Baron” (a flight simulator), and beat him hands down. When Bill asked how Sid could win when he was the ace Sid replied, “I could see the algorithm the computer was using”. Bill responded, “Maybe we should start a game company” and so MicroProse was born in 1982.
In 1996 he founded Firaxis Games along with veteran designer and gaming executive Jeff Briggs. Sid was honored with an induction into the Computer Museum of America’s Hall of Fame in 2002, and he was the second person ever to be inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Science’s “Hall of Fame” for Lifetime Achievement in 1999. Recognized around the world as the “Father of Computer Gaming,” Sid has been honored with virtually every award in the industry. He is often recognized by industry experts as one of the industry’s “Game Gods.”