David Whatley

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David Whatley
Occupation(s)CEO of Simutronics, Game developer

David Whatley (born 1966) is the president and CEO of Simutronics Corporation, a multiplayer game company in St. Charles, Missouri. He was the co-founder of the company in 1987, and has been a key developer on all of the company's products, including the GemStone series, DragonRealms, Modus Operandi, Alliance of Heroes, and CyberStrike, which won the Online Game of the Year award from Computer Gaming World magazine in 1993.[1]

Early years[edit]

Whatley was born August 10, 1966, in St. Louis, Missouri, the youngest of three children to Oscie Whatley, a day lily hybridizer,[2] and Dorothy Whatley, who ran a miniatures store. Whatley attended McCluer North High School, graduating in 1984, and was involved in the early BBS culture, writing the FRPBBS software for his privately owned company, Deep Pan Software. He briefly attended the University of Missouri, St. Louis, in 1985, majoring in communications, but left early to found his own software company.[3]


A passionate gamer, in 1987, at the age of 20, he co-founded Simutronics with Tom and Susan Zelinski,[4] and ran the company from his bedroom in his parents' home.[5] Whatley was president, CEO, and chairman of the board.

The company grew rapidly to the point of grossing $5 million per year, and made the Inc. 500 list in 1999.[6]

Business relationships were developed with every major online service available at the time, including General Electric's GEnie[7] to America Online, Prodigy, and CompuServe.[8] Other partners have included Time Warner, Sony, and Universal Studios.

Simutronics games were the #1 third-party content on America Online, breaking industry records with 2 million user hours per month. Simutronics' flagship product GemStone is the longest-running product line of its type in the world, with customers who have been with the company since 1988.[9] Whatley innovated the concept of online 3D action games, developing the CyberStrike 3D multiplayer game in 1993. The first of its type, it caused Computer Gaming World magazine to create the new category of "Online Game of the Year" so it could be awarded to CyberStrike.

In 2007, Inc. magazine again cited Simutronics, this time as one of the 5000 fastest growing companies of the year.[10]

In 2010, Whatley announced that Simutronics would reorganize into two companies, Simutronics Games and HeroEngine,[11] with Whatley taking over the role as president of Simutronics Games, and Neil Harris as president of HeroEngine.

Critical Thought Games[edit]

In 2009, Whatley founded Critical Thought Games to develop his own line of iPhone games.[12] His first title, geoDefense was a critical[13] and financial success, and has continued to be a top seller on the app store. His second title, geoDefense Swarm went on to receive even more critical acclaim, and was named one of Time magazine's "Top 10 Video Games of 2009".[14]


Public speaking[edit]

  • Keynote speaker, 360 iDev Conference, San Jose 2010 [16]
  • "From Zero to Time Magazine: App Success", Game Developers Conference, 2010[17]
  • "The Massively Collaborative Development Paradigm Shift", ION Game Conference, 2008, Seattle [18]
  • Austin Game Developers Conference, 2006, MMO Technology Platforms
  • AAAS 2006, Virtual Worlds
  • GDC 1994, Programming Commercial Virtual Reality



  • "Online Game of the Year" for CyberStrike, by Computer Gaming World magazine, 1993
  • "Best of Show" and "Most Original" for Hero's Journey at E3 2006
  • "Inc. 500", Inc. magazine, 1999
  • HeroEngine, "Best Development Tool", 2006[19]
  • HeroEngine, finalist for "Best Engine" from Game Developer 2006.[20]


  1. ^ "unknown". Computer Gaming World. November 1993. Archived from the original on 2011-07-23. Retrieved 2010-09-23. {{cite magazine}}: Cite uses generic title (help)
  2. ^ Bouman, Michael (1999). "Oscie Whatley, Man From Jakarta" (PDF). Winter 1999 Daylily Journal.
  3. ^ "David Whatley". Retrieved 2010-09-23.
  4. ^ Parrish, Kevin (2008-12-11). "BioWare to Use HeroEngine for Old Republic". Tom's Hardware. Retrieved 2010-09-22.
  5. ^ Hollerbach, Bryan A. (August 2008). "Bankroll-Playing". St. Louis Magazine. Archived from the original on 2008-10-06. Retrieved 2008-07-28.
  6. ^ "Inc. 500 Index". Inc. October 15, 1999.
  7. ^ Barton, Matt (2007-07-11). "Interview with David Whatley of Simutronics' Gemstone". Armchair Arcade. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
  8. ^ Crews, Steven (2009-05-01). "From GemStone to HeroEngine: Simutronics CEO David Whatley on Putting the MUD back into MMOs". MMO Gamer. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
  9. ^ Gignews.com May 2002 Interview: Elonka Dunin
  10. ^ "Inc. 5000: No. 295, Simutronics". Inc.
  11. ^ Graft, Kris (February 16, 2010). "HeroEngine Developer Simutronics Reorganizes Amid Growth". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  12. ^ About Critical Thought Games
  13. ^ Bennett, Colette (March 2009). "Destructoid Review: geoDefense (iPhone)". Destructoid.
  14. ^ Grossman, Lev and Peter Ha (December 2009). "The Top 10 Everything of 2009". Time. Archived from the original on December 13, 2009. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  15. ^ Mastrapa, Gus (2010-08-31). "Parody RPG Fantasy University Targets Serious Facebook Gamers". Wired. Retrieved 2010-09-23.
  16. ^ Schramm, Mike (2010-04-13). "Interview with keynote speaker David Whatley". The Unofficial Apple Weblog. Retrieved 2010-09-27.
  17. ^ Schramm, Mike (March 11, 2010). "GDC 2010: The Secret to App Store Success". The Unofficial Apple Weblog. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  18. ^ "ION Speaker: David Whatley". Archived from the original on 2010-09-13. Retrieved 2010-03-30.
  19. ^ "2006 Golden Cogs Awards". HeroEngine wins 'Best Development Tool'[permanent dead link]
  20. ^ "Front Line Awards". Game Developer. 2006. Archived from the original on 2012-02-13. Retrieved 2010-03-30. HeroEngine finalist for 'Best Engine'