Laralyn McWilliams

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Laralyn McWilliams
McWilliams in 2019
Born(1965-02-25)25 February 1965
Vicenza, Italy
Died5 February 2024(2024-02-05) (aged 58)
Occupation(s)Video game designer, Creative director, Video game director
PartnerCharlie Hatley

Laralyn McWilliams (February 25, 1965 – February 5, 2024) was an American game designer and video game producer.


Born in Vicenza, Italy, McWilliams spent her early years growing up in Italy before eventually relocating to the United States.

She was the creative director for Free Realms, a massively multiplayer virtual world for teens and tweens. In 2010, she was recognized by Massive Online Gaming as one of the most influential people in MMOs,[1] sharing the #1 slot with Sony Online president John Smedley.

Citing her role as both designer and as spokesperson for Free Realms, she was "instrumental in building awareness, visibility, and interest".[2]

McWilliams was lead designer, producer or game director for games for Disney and DreamWorks. She was also lead designer for Full Spectrum Warrior at Pandemic Studios, and worked with John Singleton and Snoop Dogg on the canceled game Fear & Respect.[3]

McWilliams was listed as one of the Top Women in MMOs in 2010,[4] and was also one of the Gamasutra 20 for Women in Games.[5] She wrote a post-mortem of Free Realms that was published in the April 2010 Game Developer Magazine.[6]

McWilliams had a B.A. in psychology from Vassar College and a J.D. from St. Louis University School of Law.[7]

In 2021, her legacy in the game industry was recognized by her peers with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 21st Game Developers Choice Awards, which recognizes the career and achievements of a developer who has made an indelible impact on the craft of game development and games as a whole.[8][9]

McWilliams died from cancer on February 5, 2024, at the age of 58.[where?][10]

Game credits[edit]

McWilliams' game credits are partially listed on the site MobyGames.[11]


  1. ^ Kale, Doug (May 12, 2010). "MOG's Top 20 Most Influential People in MMOs List". Archived from the original on December 28, 2010.
  2. ^ Aihoshi, Richard (July 20, 2009). "The Top 20 Most Influential People in MMOs". Archived from the original on July 25, 2012.
  3. ^ "Gamesauce Fall 2010". 2010. Retrieved February 9, 2024.
  4. ^ "Beckett Celebrates Top Women of MMOs". Archived from the original on October 8, 2009.
  5. ^ "Women in Games: The Gamasutra 20". 2010.
  6. ^ "Game Developer Magazine". April 2010.
  7. ^ "Casual Connect Seattle Advisors". 2011.
  8. ^ "Award Categories". Retrieved February 9, 2024.
  9. ^ "Lifetime Achievement Award". Retrieved February 9, 2024.
  10. ^ Carter, Justin (February 6, 2024). "Obituary: Laralyn McWilliams, game designer, passes away at 58". Game Developer. Retrieved February 7, 2024.
  11. ^ "Laralyn McWilliams on MobyGames". Retrieved February 9, 2024.

External links[edit]