Chris Crawford

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MS, Physics, University of Missouri, Columbia, 1975 BS, Physics, University of California, Davis, 1972

After teaching physics at a community college, I went to the University of California, where I taught energy policy issues to high school students for University Extension. Then my longtime hobby of game design became my job when I joined Atari in 1979. I designed a game for the Atari Video Computer System before moving to the Atari Home Computer System, where I created two educational simulation games: Energy Czar and Scram (a nuclear power plant simulation.)

I was promoted to supervise a group that trained programmers about the Atari computers. While running this group, I created in my spare time Eastern Front (1941), a game that became a best-seller. Another game, Legionnaire, came shortly thereafter. I was then promoted to manage a new group, the Games Research Group. There I wrote The Art of Computer Game Design and created Excalibur, a game about the Arthurian legends.

In March of 1984 I was laid off during the general collapse of Atari. I became a freelance computer game designer, taught myself the innards of the Macintosh computer, and created Balance of Power. This is my most successful game, having sold about 250,000 units.

In 1986 I wrote Patton Versus Rommel, a wargame. I also wrote a book about the Balance of Power game. In 1987 came Trust & Betrayal. In 1987/88 I wrote the second edition of Balance of Power. Two of my games were published in 1990, Guns & Butter (about macroeconomics) and Balance of the Planet, a game about environmental problems. Another wargame, Patton Strikes Back, was published in 1991. My current project, now nine years in the making, is a technology for interactive storytelling and a development environment that permits nontechnical artists to control the technology.

Along the way I created, edited, and wrote most of The Journal of Computer Game Design. I founded and ran the Computer Game Developers' Conference during its first seven years. I have lectured on game design in eight countries and many universities.

In 1999, I participated in the NASA Leonid MAC airborne mission to observe the Leonid meteor storm:

Credited on 15 games

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High Command: Europe 1939-'45 (1992, DOS) Special Thanks To
Patton Strikes Back: The Battle of the Bulge (1991, DOS) Lead Design
Balance of the Planet (1990, Macintosh) By
The Global Dilemma: Guns or Butter (1990, DOS) Design
SimEarth: The Living Planet (1990, DOS) Special Thanks To
Balance of Power: The 1990 Edition (1989, Apple IIgs) Designed by
Balance of Power (1988, MSX) By
Trust and Betrayal: The Legacy of Siboot (1987, Macintosh) By
Patton vs Rommel (1987, DOS) Software design
Excalibur (1983, Atari 8-bit) Game by
Gossip (1983, Atari 8-bit) Game by
Legionnaire (1982, Atari 8-bit) Game Design
Eastern Front (1941) (1981, Atari 8-bit) By
Energy Czar (1980, Atari 8-bit) By
Tanktics (1976, Mainframe) Written by

[ full credits ]

Related Sites add

  • The Art of Computer Game Design
    Electronic version of Chris Crawford's 1982 book on computer game design.
  • Erasmatazz
    Chris Crawford's homepage, including links to his articles on game design and his simulations for the Macintosh.
  • Interview on Game Design
    Interview by Insider's Look on, focusing on game design.
  • A Chat with Chris Crawford
    An Armchair Arcade interview with Chris Crawford, focusing on comparing artificial personalities in his early Siboot game and The Sims.
  • Halcyon Days
    Chris Crawford interview in Halcyon Days: Interviews with Classic Computer and Video Game Programmers, a 1997 book by James Hague (with an introduction by John Romero).
developer photo

Circa 1985

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