Why I am a game designer.

The impact that Redmond Simonsen had on gaming is far-reaching and affecting many aspects of the hobby and the profession to this day. He worked for Simulations Publications Inc. in the 1970s, a company that produced dozens of military boardgames every year. They looked wonderful and worked wonderfully because of Redmond.

There is no doubt that our wargaming hobby is a better place for the contributions made to it by Redmond A. Simonsen. During a time period of both growth and constant changes within our hobby, society, and the world, Redmond Simonsen strode upon our stage with a flinty vision of good taste and style that helped to set game industry standards that still impact our hobby to this day. He was a wellspring of determination and energy. Redmond was always working and pressing to make ours a better and more exciting hobby that was reaching out to a larger audience. Dynamic, talented and organized, friendly visionaries are a blessing to any organization, but we were luckiest of all to have Redmond Simonsen assume his great role when wargaming most needed him.

I refer to myself as a game designer, preferring that to the more common term “developer.” I was thrilled to put “game designer” on my tax return, even though the tax preparer had no idea what it meant. I am a game designer because Redmond coined that term.

The term “game designer” was coined by Redmond Simonsen at SPI sometime in the early 70s, and was in common use in the hobby games industry (wargames, RPGs, CCGs) before computer games became a commercial market. Before then, game designers were generally called “game inventors” or “game authors”–something still true in Germany, where a game designer is a “spielautor”.

I met Redmond several times at game conventions, and he was always engaging, funny, and fascinating. He had a way of sneaking up on you… I’d turn around, and there he was. I once commented on his Chinese photographer’s jacket (he was carrying an expensive SLR as well), and his reply was, “Everybody has to have a shtick.” I like that quote, and I still use it from time to time.

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