Human Head Studios

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Human Head Studios, Inc.
Company typePrivate
IndustryVideo games
FoundedOctober 1997; 26 years ago (1997-10)
DefunctNovember 13, 2019; 4 years ago (2019-11-13)
SuccessorRoundhouse Studios
Key people
Chris Rhinehart
Paul MacArthur
Ben Gokey
Ted Halsted
Jim Sumwalt
Shane Gurno

Human Head Studios, Inc. was an American video game developer located in Madison, Wisconsin.


Human Head Studios was founded in October 1997 by a group of six developers formerly from Raven Software: Ben Gokey, Chris Rhinehart, Paul MacArthur, Ted Halsted, James Sumwalt, and Shane Gurno—later joined by game producer Tim Gerritsen as co-owner in June 1998. Regarding the origin of the studio's name, Gerritsen explained: "When the guys were thinking of leaving Raven Software, someone posted a message via e-mail that they had lost some money. This started people saying they had lost all sorts of things. One person posted that they had misplaced a bag of human heads and this gave the inspiration for the name."[1] Their first game was Rune, a third-person Viking action game. The company also worked on the long-anticipated first-person shooter Prey, a game that was executive produced by 3D Realms.

On April 20, 2007, a news report indicated that the company's headquarters were partially destroyed in a fire.[2] No injuries were reported. On October 1, 2007, the company moved back into their newly renovated offices. In 2014, Human Head announced that they have revived a multiplayer video game called Minimum from TimeGate Studios, which filed for bankruptcy in 2013.[3] Their final major release was the infamous The Quiet Man, an action-adventure beat-em-up published by Square Enix which features full-motion video cutscenes.

On November 13, 2019, the studio announced its closure, immediately after the release of Rune II. The whole team subsequently formed a new studio, Roundhouse Studios, under Bethesda Softworks. Chris Rhinehart of Human Head/Roundhouse stated that "Sadly, we had to wind down the business of Human Head Studios and close its doors", but had been able to reach out to Bethesda to establish this new studio.[4]

Games developed[edit]

Year Title Publisher(s) Platform(s)
2000 Rune Gathering of Developers Microsoft Windows, macOS, Linux
2000 Blair Witch Volume II: The Legend of Coffin Rock Microsoft Windows
2001 Rune: Halls of Valhalla Microsoft Windows
2001 Rune: Viking Warlord Take-Two Interactive PlayStation 2
2004 Dead Man's Hand Atari, SA Xbox, Microsoft Windows
2006 Prey 2K Games Microsoft Windows, Xbox 360, macOS, Linux
2011 Brink[5] Bethesda Softworks Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
2012 Fort Courage Human Head Studios iOS
2013 Defiance[5] Trion Worlds Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
2014 Minimum Atari, SA Microsoft Windows
2015 Lost Within[6] Amazon Game Studios iOS, Android
2015 Dungeon Defenders II Trendy Entertainment Xbox One, PlayStation 4[7]
2018 The Quiet Man[8] Square Enix Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4
2018 Survived By Digital Extremes Microsoft Windows
2019 Rune II Ragnarok Game, LLC Microsoft Windows



  1. ^ Keefer, John (March 31, 2006). "GameSpy Retro: Developer Origins, Page 7 of 19". GameSpy. Archived from the original on June 9, 2007.
  2. ^ "Massive Fire Destroys East Side Building". Channel3000. April 20, 2007. Archived from the original on February 5, 2012. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  3. ^ Chalk, Andy (April 10, 2014). "Ex-Prey 2 Studio Takes Over TimeGate's Minimum". The Escapist. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  4. ^ Ivan, Tom (November 13, 2019). "New Bethesda studio formed as Human Head Studios closes". Video Games Chronicle. Retrieved November 13, 2019.
  5. ^ a b R. Conklin, Aaron (July 24, 2014). "Inside the minds of Human Head Studios". Isthmus. Retrieved July 24, 2014.
  6. ^ Phillips, Tom (March 3, 2015). "Prey developer Human Head announces survival horror Lost Within". Eurogamer. Retrieved April 7, 2015.
  7. ^ Crecente, Brian (June 11, 2015). "Dungeon Defenders 2 coming to PS4 this year with help from Prey developer". Polygon. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  8. ^ Minotti, Mike (June 11, 2018). "The Quiet Man may be Square Enix's first deaf hero". VentureBeat. Retrieved June 11, 2018.
  9. ^ Pitcher, Jenna (October 30, 2014). "Bethesda officially confirms Prey 2 cancellation". IGN. Retrieved April 7, 2015.

External links[edit]