Bob Bates was born
December 11, 1953 near Washington
D.C., already heralding his fate to become president of
something. Four years of his childhood he spent living in
England, which is still witnessed in his politeness and like
In the early 1970's
he studied philosophy and psychology at Georgetown
University, but his deepest wish was to become a writer.
In 1984 he actually started to write a novel, working as a
tourist guide during the day, while writing at night.
Two years later,
in 1986 and midway through, he was interrupted by his father,
who gave him his old TRS-80
computer together with a game called "Zork."
Bob had never before played a computer game, but after discovering
"Zork" was fascinated by the idea of blending novels
The idea to do
likewise quickly arose in Bob and he and a friend in 1986
founded their own gaming company, "Challenge, Inc."
After this fundamental act they pondered how they would go
about writing text adventures and came to the conclusion that
the best thing to do would be to license the game engine of
There was no need
for a lot of search on which company should be contacted first,
because there was one really dominant company on the market:
Infocom. Bob decided to go big and ring Infocom first.
But instead of
licensing the engine, he was offered a contract to write games
for Infocom and, very flattered, agreed after a couple of
weeks negotiating. He wanted to maintain Challenge, which
he did, and so became one of the few outside authors that
ever wrote games for Infocom.
He created a series
for Infocom called "Immortal Legends," which was
going to be based on famous characters from literature. The
first installment in this series became "Sherlock
- The Riddle of the Crown Jewels," followed by "Arthur:
The Quest for Excalibur." The third had been supposed
to be a game based on Robin Hood, but when Infocom had the
chance to do a game on James Cameron's movie "The
Abyss," the project was canceled.
Of course, the
"Abyss" game never saw the light of the day either,
because just as Bob was working on it, in 1989, Infocom was
shut down completely by Activision
( see History).
Bob still wanted
to work in the business, so he and his friend Mike Verdu got
together to found a new company: "Legend Entertainment."
They took many ex-Infocommies along with them, but unfortunately
faced serious difficulty in getting investors to finance a
company that wanted to do just about exactly what another
company, which had just gone under, did.
and Mike managed these roadblocks and in 1990 Legend could
announce their first game, "Spellcasting
101," written by no one else than Infocom's Steve
Meretzky, and taking advantage of all aspects PCs could
offer in the early 90's. Bob was at the helm of his own company.
Hit followed after
hit, Legend was called a worthy successor to Infocom, but
by the mid-90's it became apparent that the adventure market
was growing on a much slower scale than the rest of the market,
while game development costs exploded. On the horizon it started
to look like Legend had to face the same fate as Infocom:
dying while writing great games.
Bob and Mike wanted
to let Legend survive, and eventually agreed to a takeover
Interactive Software in 1998. Legend transformed to being
a developer instead of a publisher, working on 3D oriented
titles like "Unreal"
was later acquired by Infogrames,
and so Legend, as a development studio now well known for
the highly successful "Unreal," became part of Infogrames.
The much anticipated
II - The Awakening" was developed for Infogrames
in 2003, a mission pack for the game called "Unreal II
- XMP" followed soon after, but in January of 2004 Infogrames,
by then known as Atari, decided to close Legend.
But Bob was and
is more than Legend and today combines his passion for writing
and his experience in the entertainment software industry.
In 2001 he authored
the book "Game
Design: The Art and Business of Creating Games,"
which became a bestseller and is now being used as a textbook
for game-development classes at colleges and universities.
An expanded 2nd
Edition was published in 2004, while in
September of 2003 Bob’s "Game
Developers Market Guide" was released, which includes
corporate and academic listings for the entire game industry,
as well as a collection of development-related articles that
Bob commissioned and edited especially for the book.
Bob also is a frequent
speaker at industry events and has been a guest lecturer at
University and Columbia
University. He also conducted seminars at the GDC
for over ten years and in 2009 became chairman of the International
Game Developers Association (IGDA),
the largest organization of game development professionals
in the world, where before that he worked with the group’s
education subcommittee on forging stronger ties with the academic
He is also a co-founder
and organizer of the Game Designers Workshop, an annual and
invitation-only conference of storytelling game designers,
capped at thirty attendees and in format similar to that of
a writer’s workshop, where participants discuss both
practical problems and theory.
And Bob is still
active in developing games. In 2006 he was one of the producers
and designers of "Panzer
Elite Action", a game evolving around three tank
commanders in World War II.
to Bob Bates for contributing to this biography.