Joel Billings

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Joel Billings is an American video game designer. He is the founder of the game company SSI.[1] He was also the company's president.[2]


Joel Billings approached Avalon Hill to publish a computer game called Computer Bismarck, and when they turned him down he decided to found his own company to publish the game.[3] Billings started SSI in 1979 just after finishing college, with a $1000 initial investment. The first product was Computer Bismarck, which he co-wrote. Designed for the TRS-80 and Apple II home computers, it is viewed as the first computer war game ever published. It sold 7000 copies, considered reasonably successful for its time.[2][4] The company was an industry leader for years in war games and role-playing video games.

In 1987 Billings acquired the rights to the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing games from TSR, which led to the creation of the Gold Box D&D game series, one of the best selling video game franchises of the 1980s and 1990s.

After two years of losses tied to delays in the new Dark Sun game engine, Billings sold the company to Mindscape in 1994.

In 2001 Billings started a game development company called 2 By 3 Games with former SSI game programmers Gary Grigsby and Keith Brors.

In December 2013, Billings donated several SSI video games, such as Computer Bismarck, including the source code for preservation to the ICHEG.[5][6]


  1. ^ Jones, Stephen (March 30, 1987). "A Video Game Comeback?", San Jose Business Journal 4 (49): 7.
  2. ^ a b Seiken, Jeff (July 05, 1990). "Computer War Games Test Strategic Skills", Philadelphia Inquirer.
  3. ^ Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7. 
  4. ^ Seiken, Jeff (October 6, 1990). "War simulations let you take charge", Austin American Statesman, p. 22.
  5. ^ Nutt, Christian (2013-12-16). "Strategic Simulations, Inc. founder donates company collection to ICHEG". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 
  6. ^ Dyson, Jon-Paul C. (2013-12-16). "The Strategic Simulations, Inc. Collection". ICHEG. Retrieved 2013-12-22. 

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