Elan Lee

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Elan Lee
Elan lee tombstone.jpg
Elan Lee designing Tombstone Hold 'Em (2005) with a golf ball attached to his head
Born (1975-01-26) January 26, 1975 (age 42)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Occupation Alternate Reality Game Designer

Elan Lee (born 1975) is a game designer who works in the genre of alternate reality games.


Lee started his career as a character designer at Industrial Light and Magic, where he worked on several motion pictures. In 1998 he became lead game designer at Microsoft Game Studios, designing and directing games for the PC and Xbox. While working for Microsoft he was the lead designer for The Beast, an alternate reality game (ARG) that promoted the Steven Spielberg film A.I. Artificial Intelligence.[1]

In 2003 he co-founded 42 Entertainment, a design company in the new field of alternate reality games (ARGs). 42 has created multiple ARGs, including, I Love Bees to promote the Xbox game Halo 2, and Year Zero, to promote the Nine Inch Nails album Year Zero.

In 2006, he co-founded (with Dawne Weisman) edoc laundry, a company designed to produce ARGs using clothes as the primary platform. Consumers deciphered codes hidden within garments and entered the results into the game's main website to reveal pieces of a story about the murder of a band manager.

In 2007, he founded Fourth Wall Studios, an entertainment studio aiming to develop and publish entertainment experiences of varying scopes.[2]

In 2013, he returned to Microsoft as the Chief Design Officer for Xbox Entertainment Studios.[3]

In 2015, he partnered with Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) and Shane Small to create the card game 'Exploding Kittens', funded on Kickstarter.[4]

In 2016, he partnered again with Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) and Carly McGinnis to create the card game 'Bears vs. Babies', currently being funded on Kickstarter.[5]


With Microsoft:

With 42 Entertainment:

  • I Love Bees Lead Designer (2004)
  • Last Call Poker Lead Designer (2005)
  • The Vanishing Point Lead Designer (2007)
  • Year Zero Designer (2007)


Lee and his projects have won several industry awards for both design and marketing.

In 2005 I Love Bees won an Innovation Award from IGDA, and a Webby Award.[citation needed]

In 2008 Year Zero won the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity Grand Prix Award for "Viral Marketing"[6] as well as a Silver Award for "Integrated Campaign".[7] The game also won a bronze Clio Award,[8] and two Webbys: Peoples Voice Award (Branded Content)[9] and Peoples Voice Award (Integrated Campaigns).[9]

In 2012 Lee won a Creative Arts Emmy for Original Interactive Programming for the web series Dirty Work.[10] The same year he won the Trailblazer Award from IndieCade.[11]


  1. ^ Kornblum, Janet (28 June 2001). "The intricate plot behind 'A.I.' Web mystery". USA Today. Retrieved 2015-03-04. 
  2. ^ Caulfield, Brian (1 April 2009). "Games That Use The 'Ubernet'". Forbes. Retrieved 2015-03-04. 
  3. ^ The Deadline Team (2013-06-20). "Elan Lee Named Chief Design Officer For Nancy Tellem's Xbox Entertainment Studios". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2015-03-04. 
  4. ^ http://explodingkittens.com/#what
  5. ^ http://www.bearsvsbabies.com/#what
  6. ^ 2008 Cannes Lions Grand Prix Winners
  7. ^ 2008 Cannes Lions Silver Award Winners
  8. ^ 2008 Clio Award Winners
  9. ^ a b 2008 Webby Award Winners
  10. ^ Dirty Work
  11. ^ Matulef, Jeffrey (October 12, 2012). "IndieCade 2012 winners announced, Unmanned takes the top prize". Eurogamer. Archived from the original on February 28, 2016. Retrieved February 28, 2016. 

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