Bob Bates
• Name: Robert Bates
• Joined Infocom: 1986
• Games written: 2
• Left Infocom: 1989

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 of Cricket.

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 with games.

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 another company.

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.

Nonetheless Bob 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 by GT Interactive Software in 1998. Legend transformed to being a developer instead of a publisher, working on 3D oriented titles like "Unreal" and "Wheel of Time."

GT Interactive 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 sequel "Unreal 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 George Washington 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 community.

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.

Many thanks to Bob Bates for contributing to this biography.

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Titles written by Bob Bates:

Sherlock - Riddle of the Crown Jewels (1988)

Arthur: The Quest for Excalibur (1989)

Past Infocom:

Spellcasting 101 (1990, Legend) (with Steve Meretzky)

Timequest (1991, Legend)

Spellcasting 201 (1991, Legend) (with Steve Meretzky)

Frederik Pohl's Gateway (1992, Legend) (with Duane Beck, Michael Verdu et al.)

Spellcasting 301 (1992, Legend) (with Steve Meretzky)

Frederik Pohl's Gateway (1992, Legend) (with Michael Lindner et al.)

Eric the Unready (1993, Legend)

Companions of Xanth (1993, Legend) (with Michael Lindner)

Callahan's Crosstime Saloon (1997, Legend) (with Steve Riley et al.)

Quandaries (1998, Legend) (for US Department of Justice)

John Saul's Blackstone Chronicles (1998, Mindscape) (with Scott Evans et al.)

Unreal II - The Awakening (2003, Atari) (with Michael Verdu, Glen Dahlgren et al.)

Panzer Elite Action (2006, JoWood) (with Michael Hengst et al.)

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