Jordan Mechner

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jordan Mechner
Mechner in 2017
Born (1964-06-04) June 4, 1964 (age 59)
New York City, United States
  • Video game designer
  • graphic novelist
  • screenwriter
  • author
  • filmmaker
Notable work
Whitney Hills
(m. 2014; div. 2017)

Jordan Mechner (born June 4, 1964)[3] is an American video game designer, graphic novelist, author, screenwriter, filmmaker, and former video game programmer.[4] A major figure in the development of cinematic video games[5] and a pioneer in video game animation,[6] he began his career designing and programming the 1984 martial arts game Karateka for the Apple II while a student at Yale University. The game was a bestseller. He followed it with the platform game Prince of Persia five years later; it was widely ported and became a hit. Both games used rotoscoping, where actors shot on film by Mechner were drawn over to create in-game animation. Prince of Persia has become the basis for a long-running franchise, including a 2010 live-action film released by Walt Disney Pictures and an ongoing series of video games, published by Ubisoft.

Mechner is the recipient of many accolades, including the 2017 GDC Pioneer Award.[7] His works are often included in all-time lists of the game industry's best and most influential titles.[8][9]

In 1993, Mechner founded Smoking Car Productions to design and direct the adventure game The Last Express. While commercially unprofitable at the time of its release, the game has garnered a cult following and is recognized as an innovative work in interactive narrative.[10][11][12][13][14][15]

As an author, Mechner has written graphic novels in collaboration with different illustrators, including the New York Times bestseller Templar (2013), Monte Cristo (2022), and Liberty (2023).[16] In 2023, Mechner made his debut as a graphic novel writer–artist, with the autobiographical Replay: Memoir of an Uprooted Family. Replay was awarded the 2023 Chateau de Cheverny prize for historical graphic novels.[17]

In 2009, he was chosen by IGN as one of the top 100 game creators of all time.[18]

Early life[edit]

Mechner was born in New York City in 1964, into a family of European Jewish immigrants. His father is psychologist Francis Mechner,[19][20] and his mother was a programmer.[21] He attended Yale University in the 1980s.[22][23][24]


While at Yale, Mechner wrote several Apple II games that he submitted for publication, but which were rejected. Asteroid Blaster, an Asteroids clone, was submitted to Hayden Software and abstract arcade game Deathbounce to Broderbund. Mechner then spent two years at Yale writing his first published game, Karateka (1984), which went to number one on the Billboard software chart.

His second game, Prince of Persia, was released in 1989 after more than three years of work. He wrote both games in the 6502 assembly language for the Apple II, though that system was in decline through the late 1980s, and little new software was released by 1989. Initially, Prince of Persia sold poorly, but as it was ported to other systems, sales increased. Eventually, it was adapted for about thirty computer and console platforms.[25]

Following the completion of Prince of Persia, Mechner attended film school, traveled to Cuba to produce and direct a short documentary film, and lived in Paris for a year.[26] During this period, he designed and directed the sequel, Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame, released in 1993.

He founded the independent developer Smoking Car Productions in 1993, where he led the production of the CD-ROM adventure game The Last Express.[26] Smoking Car grew to sixty people, a huge team for the mid-1990s, and the game took longer to finish than anticipated. When finally released in 1997, it was positively reviewed but did not recoup its budget. It has since become a fan favorite with adventure gamers and critics alike.[10][27][28][29] The Last Express was re-released in 2012 by French publisher DotEmu for mobile and other platforms.[30][31][32]

In 2003, Mechner directed the award-winning documentary Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story.[33]

He released the recovered source code to the original Prince of Persia game in 2012 and published his 1980s journals, detailing the development process that went into making Karateka and Prince of Persia.[34][35]

In 2017, he won the Honorific Award at the Fun & Serious Game Festival.[36]

Prince of Persia revival[edit]

In 2001, Mechner worked with Ubisoft to reboot Prince of Persia. Developed at Ubisoft Montreal with Mechner as game designer, writer, and creative consultant, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was released in 2003. It received twelve nominations and eight awards at the Interactive Achievement Awards.[37] Ubisoft has since published four more Prince of Persia sequels and several spinoffs, including the Assassin's Creed franchise, which was initially conceived as a sequel to Sands of Time.[38] In 2024, Ubisoft released Prince of Persia: The Lost Crown, a new relaunch of the franchise, developed at its Montpellier studio.

Mechner became one of the few video game creators to adapt his own creation as a feature film, with Disney's Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, directed by Mike Newell, and starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Gemma Arterton, Ben Kingsley, and Alfred Molina. The film was released on May 28, 2010. Mechner wrote the first drafts of the screenplay and acted as executive producer.

Writing and directing[edit]

Jordan Mechner at WonderCon 2010

In 2003, Mechner wrote and directed the documentary film Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story. It won the 2003 IDA award for Best Short Documentary,[39] was short-listed[clarification needed] for an Academy Award nomination,[40] and received its broadcast premiere on PBS Independent Lens in 2005.[41]

Mechner collaborated with a team on the 2008 Prince of Persia graphic novel. The author's graphic novel Templar was published in July 2013.[42][43] Templar became a New York Times best-selling book and was nominated for an Eisner Award.[44] Mechner also wrote the graphic novel Prince of Persia: Before the Sandstorm, to tie in with the release of the film in 2010.

Mechner has written a screenplay for a film adaptation of Michael Turner's Fathom for Fox Studios.[45]

He has published two volumes of his game development journals from the 1980s, one describing the making of Karateka and the other focusing on Prince of Persia. He was able to recover the source code of the original Prince of Persia game he programmed from 23-year-old 3.5" Apple ProDOS floppy disks, found in April 2012, and posted it online.[34][35][46]

In 2017, Mechner moved to Montpellier, France. He has collaborated with European illustrators on graphic novels, including Monte Cristo (2023) and Liberty (2022).[47][48] In 2023, he released an autobiographical graphic novel, Replay: Memoires d'une famille. He continues to write new graphic novels.[49][50]



Title Year Platform Publisher
Karateka 1984 Apple II Broderbund
Prince of Persia 1989 Apple II Broderbund
Prince of Persia 2: The Shadow and the Flame 1993 MS-DOS Broderbund
The Last Express 1997 Windows, MS-DOS, Classic Mac OS Broderbund
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time 2003 Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox Ubisoft
Karateka 2012 Windows, Xbox 360 D3 Publisher
The Making of Karateka 2023 Windows, Xbox One, Xbox Series X and Series S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Nintendo Switch Digital Eclipse


Title Year Publisher Collaborators ref
Prince of Persia: The Graphic Novel 2008 First Second Books A.B. Sina (writer), LeUyen Pham & Alex Puvilland (illus.)
The Making of Prince of Persia: Journals 1985–1993 2010 Amazon
Prince of Persia: Before the Sandstorm 2010 Disney Todd McFarlane, Bernard Chang, Cameron Stewart, et al. (illus.)
Solomon's Thieves (Templar: Book One) 2010 First Second Books LeUyen Pham & Alex Puvilland (illus.)
The Making of Karateka: Journals 1982–1985 2012 Amazon
Templar 2013 First Second Books LeUyen Pham & Alex Puvilland (illus.)
The Making of Prince of Persia 2020 Stripe Press
Samak the Ayyar
(English-language rendering of the Samak-e Ayyar tales)
2021 Columbia University Press Freydoon Rassouli (trans.) [51][52]
Monte Cristo 2022–2023 Glénat Editions Mario Alberti (illus.) & Claudia Palescandolo (col.)
Liberty 2023–2024 Delcourt Editions Étienne Le Roux (illus.), Loïc Chevallier (illus.) & Elvire De Cock (col.)
Replay: Mémoires d'une famille 2023 Delcourt Editions
Replay: Memoir of an Uprooted Family 2024 First Second Books


Personal life[edit]

Mechner married Whitney Hills in 2014.[1] The couple divorced in 2017.[53][2]


  1. ^ a b Mechner, Jordan (April 7, 2014). "Jordan Mechner on Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on February 1, 2015. Retrieved October 3, 2014. Tweeting from cloud nine, because I've just married @whitney.
  2. ^ a b "Case Summary - Online Services (Case Number: BD653303)". Los Angeles County Superior Court. Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  3. ^ Mechner, Jordan. "Blog 4 June 1989". Archived from the original on May 19, 2014.
  4. ^ "Jordan Mechner – Biography". February 3, 2024.
  5. ^ "Jordan Mechner – CHM". February 3, 2024.
  6. ^ "Creating Prince of Persia in 1989 with fluid animations before the days of motion-capture – TechSpot". February 3, 2024.
  7. ^ "Pioneer Archive – Game Developers Choice Awards". February 3, 2024.
  8. ^ "Top 20 MS-DOS Games That You Must Play – Gaming Shift". February 3, 2024.
  9. ^ "The best adventure games – PC Gamer". February 3, 2024.
  10. ^ a b "Top 100 All-Time Adventure Games – Adventure Gamers". February 3, 2024.
  11. ^ "The Last Express is as mesmerising and relevant as ever, 25 years later". February 3, 2024.
  12. ^ "The Last Express: Revisiting an Unsung Classic". February 3, 2024.
  13. ^ "Best Game Ever Set on a Train Across Europe". February 3, 2024.
  14. ^ "The Last Express, the 90s real-time adventure game that still feels groundbreaking – AUTOMATON WEST". February 3, 2024.
  15. ^ "#12: The Last Express – Adventure Gamers". February 3, 2024.
  16. ^ "jordan mechner – Search Results". February 3, 2024.
  17. ^ "Le Prix BD des Rendez-vous de l'histoire – Château de Cheverny 2023 – ActuaBD". February 3, 2024.
  18. ^ "IGN – 60. Jordan Mechner". IGN. Archived from the original on April 20, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2023.
  19. ^ "The Last Express: Video Game as Art – 25fps". March 15, 2012.
  20. ^ "LAist Interview: Jordan Mechner: LAist". Archived from the original on October 20, 2017. Retrieved August 25, 2015.
  21. ^ Mechner, Jordan (2017). "Episode 7 - Jordan Mechner". Apple Time Warp (Interview). Interviewed by John Romero. Libsyn (published June 15, 2019). Retrieved June 18, 2019.
  22. ^ Steve Fulton (September 29, 2014). "What Indie Game Developers Can Learn From Jordan Mechner's Book "The Making Of Karateka"". Gamasutra. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  23. ^ "How Prince of Persia's famous jump animation was made / Boing Boing". October 30, 2014.
  24. ^ Charles McGrath (May 21, 2010). "A Gamer's World, but a Dramatist's Sensibility". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  25. ^ Derboo, Sam (May 18, 2008). "Prince of Persia". Hardcore Gaming 101. Retrieved July 6, 2023.
  26. ^ a b "An Interview with Jordan Mechner". Next Generation. No. 25. Imagine Media. January 1997. p. 108.
  27. ^ "The Last Express – Metacritic". February 4, 2024.
  28. ^ "The Last Express (1997) – MobyGames". February 4, 2024.
  29. ^ "The Last Express Reviews – GameSpot". February 4, 2024.
  30. ^ Marchiafava, Jeff (September 24, 2012). "The Last Express Arrives on iOS Soon – Game Informer". Retrieved February 4, 2024.
  31. ^ Jay, Matthew (September 25, 2012). "HonestGamers – The Last Express (PC) News". Retrieved February 4, 2024.
  32. ^ "Review: The Last Express (iOS) – Destructoid". Retrieved February 4, 2024.
  33. ^ "Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story – Documentary – Independent Lens – PBS". February 3, 2024.
  34. ^ a b "The Geeks Who Saved Prince of Persia's Source Code from Digital Death – WIRED". February 3, 2024.
  35. ^ a b "Original Prince of Persia source code discovered, released for free – GamesRadar+". February 3, 2024.
  36. ^ "Kaplan, de escritor fracasado a estrella de videojuego tras jugar 272 días". December 9, 2017. Retrieved July 8, 2019.
  37. ^ Prince of Persia award page Archived May 10, 2012, at the Wayback Machine from Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences website
  38. ^ Jessey, Ben (January 28, 2024). "Was Assassin's Creed Supposed to Be a Prince of Persia Game?".
  39. ^ "2003 IDA Documentary Awards Winners". International Documentary Association. Retrieved July 6, 2023.
  40. ^ "Chavez Ravine: A Los Angeles Story". EMRO. Pennsylvania State University. Retrieved July 6, 2023.[better source needed]
  41. ^ "Independent Lens . CHAVEZ RAVINE – PBS".
  42. ^ "Templar: historical caper graphic novel from Prince of Persia creator / Boing Boing". July 10, 2013.
  43. ^ "From Games to Comics: First Second's Prince of Persia OGN". August 4, 2023.
  44. ^ "Will Eisner Comic Industry Award Nominees 2014 | Comic-Con International: San Diego". Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  45. ^ "Megan Fox to star in 'Fathom'" from Variety
  46. ^ Mechner, Jordan (November 7, 2017). "Prince-of-Persia-Apple-II: A running-jumping-swordfighting game I made on the Apple II from 1985-89" – via GitHub.
  47. ^ "Jordan Mechner, le créateur de Prince of Persia vit à Montpellier – En Commun". February 4, 2024.
  48. ^ "'Prince of Persia' creator 'never imagined' game would be his magic carpet". February 4, 2024.
  49. ^ "Prince of Persia creator never imagined game would be his magic carpet – The Peninsula Qatar". Retrieved February 4, 2024.
  50. ^ "The father-and-son of Karateka: how family anchored a classic game's innovations". February 4, 2024.
  51. ^ Blankinship, Kevin (January 9, 2022). "Feast and Fight: A New Adaptation of "Samak the Ayar"". Los Angeles Review of Books. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  52. ^ "Samak the Ayyar: A Tale of Ancient Persia". Farhang Foundation. 2021. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  53. ^ "Jordan Mechner vs Whitney Hills | Court Records". UniCourt. Retrieved June 18, 2019.

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