Christopher Weaver

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Christopher Weaver
Alma materWesleyan University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Occupationsoftware and technology innovator, entrepreneur
Known forfounder of Bethesda Softworks and cofounder of ZeniMax Media

Christopher S. Weaver is an American entrepreneur, software developer, scientist, author, and educator. He is known for founding Bethesda Softworks, where he was one of the creators and Executive Producer of the original The Elder Scrolls role-playing series.[1][2]

Weaver and Bethesda are credited with developing of the first real-time physics engine for sports simulation, used in Bethesda's Gridiron! videogame.[3] Weaver also developed game screen captioning for the deaf and made it available as open source software.[4]


At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Weaver helped redesign the campus radio and television studios, and modified Link Trainers to better simulate situational spatial awareness. This experience resulted in his creating AeroTechnology Enterprises specializing in analog training simulators for aviation.[2]

Weaver moved to New York for post-graduate work at Columbia University and got a night job as an Assistant Director of News at NBC. He was then hired by the American Broadcasting Company, where he established the first office of Technology Forecasting for the network. He then became the Vice-President for Science and Technology at the National Cable Television Association (NCTA), followed by an appointment as Chief Engineer to the Congressional Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.[2]

Weaver later started Videomagic Laboratories, a company working in vehicular simulators for military and entertainment purposes.[2] He temporarily moved to Los Angeles to work on the Universal Studios lot in Burbank, working on new camera technology with Panavision for interactive media. During this time, Weaver contributed to early work in graphical interfaces, optical storage, and computer-assisted editing, including encoding spatial information for tracking camera shots.[2]

In the 1980s, Weaver was introduced to video games when he was asked by one of his engineers to look at a football game idea he was developing – Weaver felt it "was boring". His fix was a physics engine, bounded by football rules. They decided to produce the game, resulting in the formation of Bethesda Softworks. The game was released as Gridiron! for the Atari ST and Commodore 64/128, in 1986.[2] Bethesda later found widespread success as a game developer with its Elder Scrolls series of games.

In 1999, Weaver cofounded ZeniMax Media with Robert A. Altman, as a new parent company for Bethesda. Weaver contributing his stake in Bethesda to ZeniMax,[2] and served as CTO until 2002, then was pushed out. He filed a lawsuit against ZeniMax, claiming he was ousted by his new business partners and was owed severance when ZeniMax didn't renew his employment contract.[5] They filed counterclaims saying he had gone through emails of other employees to make his case.[6][7] In the end, the case was resolved out of court. Although still the largest shareholder as of 2007, Weaver no longer had any day-to-day responsibilities with ZeniMax.[8]


Weaver teaches computational media in the College of Integrative Sciences at Wesleyan University.[9] He also teaches in the Comparative Media Studies and Engineering departments at MIT.[10] He is a Fellow of the Futures of Entertainment Consortium; a Board Member of the Communications Technology Roadmap Group and a Visiting Scientist in the Microphotonics Center.[2] Recently, he was asked to co-direct a new Center at MIT, which will use the science and epistemology of game tools to enhance STEM education for children of multiple age groups.

Weaver continues to serve on committees for various national and international organizations. Some of his past and present appointments include: American Association for the Advancement of Science, National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, National Research Council, International Game Developers Association, Cable Telecommunications Research Institute, Society of Cable Television Engineers, Aspen Institute, and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. In 2016, as part of the MIT educational contingent, he became Director of Interactive Simulation for the AIM Photonics Academy.[11]

He has acted as technical advisor to various governments and organizations, including the White House, Office of Technology Policy, Congressional Committee of House Administration and the Department of Homeland Security. Weaver has been a technical advisor to numerous films including Independence Day, where writer/producer Dean Devlin used Weaver as the basis for the film character David Levinson (played by Jeff Goldblum) and on the science fiction film, Geostorm.[2][12]

In 2005, Weaver was inducted into the Cosmos Club for excellence in Engineering.[13]

In 2016, Weaver was appointed a Distinguished Research Scholar by the Smithsonian Institution[14] and installed as the first Project Director of the newly created Videogame Pioneers Archive within the Lemelson Center for the Study of Invention and Innovation.[15]


Weaver has been published in a number of science and technology journals and periodicals, including: the MIT Microphotonics Center, IEEE Spectrum, Techline, Edge Magazine, SCTE Journal, NCTA Bulletin, ITU Standards, Video Magazine, and Next Generation Magazine on subjects ranging from microprocessors to copyright law.[16][17] He is also a co-writer/creator of the multi-volume science-fiction series The Tenth Planet published by Ballantine Books[18] and was the technical editor and contributor for Fundamentals of Game Design.[19]

Personal life[edit]

Weaver is a volunteer air ambulance pilot for AngelFlight[20] and holds numerous FAA licenses and type certificates. He is married to Nanci Weaver.


  1. ^ "Christopher Weaver". MobyGames. Retrieved January 12, 2010.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Ramsay, Morgan (2012). Gamers at work : stories behind the games people play. [New York]: Apress. ISBN 9781430233510. Archived from the original on June 9, 2017. Retrieved November 8, 2019.
  3. ^ "Games and Their MIT Makers". MIT Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  4. ^ Ramsay, Morgan (2012). Gamers at Work:Stories Behind the Games People Play. New York: Apress. ISBN 978-1-4302-3351-0.
  5. ^ "Christopher Weaver vs ZeniMax Media" (PDF). Retrieved July 26, 2016.
  6. ^ "Weaver v. ZeniMax Media". Justia Law. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  7. ^ "Christopher S. WEAVER v. ZENIMAX MEDIA, INC. -". Archived from the original on March 13, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  8. ^ "Bethesda: The Right Direction". The Escapist. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  9. ^ "Video Game Entrepreneur Returns to Teach Design Course". Wesleyan Argus. Wesleyan University. Retrieved March 22, 2016.
  10. ^ "CMS People". Comparative Media Studies. MIT. Retrieved April 19, 2015.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 8, 2016. Retrieved March 26, 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  12. ^ Starzynski, Bob (August 19, 1996). "Erol's sees C&W deal as ticket to business market". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved July 17, 2016.
  13. ^ [1] Archived April 2, 2015, at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2015-03-31.
  14. ^ "Smithsonian Institution".
  15. ^ "Smithsonian Institution".
  16. ^ "Microphotonics:Hardware for the Information Age". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved April 1, 2015.
  17. ^ [2]. Retrieved on 2015-03-31.
  18. ^ [3]. Retrieved on 2015-03-31.
  19. ^ Adams, Ernest (2010). Fundamentals of Game Design. Berkeley: New Riders. ISBN 978-0-321-64337-7.
  20. ^ "Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance". AngelFlight. Retrieved April 1, 2015.