Matthew Smith (games programmer)

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Matthew Smith
Matthew Smith.jpg
Matthew Smith, at the Screenplay festival in Nottingham, UK (2005)
Born (1966-01-01) 1 January 1966 (age 52)
Occupation Game designer

Matthew Smith (born 1966) is a British computer game programmer. He created the games Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy for the ZX Spectrum, released in 1983 and 1984 respectively.

Early life[edit]

He was born in London, but his family moved around a great deal, finally ending up in Wallasey.

Programming career[edit]


He started out programming on a TRS-80. His first commercial game was a Galaxian clone for the TRS-80 called Delta Tower One.[1] He then went on to produce Monster Muncher on the VIC-20.

He obtained a ZX Spectrum on loan from Bug-Byte Software Ltd. in return for a contract to make three games. The first of these was Styx in 1983.

He wrote Manic Miner in six weeks. It was the first ZX Spectrum title with in-game music.[2] The sequel, Jet Set Willy, took considerably longer to write.[3] Manic Miner and Jet Set Willy were both commercial successes. Smith has stated that Manic Miner was the most enjoyable game to make for him whereas Jet Set Willy was 'seven shades of hell'.[4]

After the creation of Jet Set Willy he started work on The Mega Tree for publication by his company Software Projects. Unlike his previous two hits The Mega Tree was not developed for the ZX Spectrum but the Commodore 64. The project failed to gain traction and was abandoned three months into development.[5]

In 1987 adverts began appearing in games magazines for a new game Attack of the Mutant Zombie Flesh Eating Chickens From Mars said to have been programmed by Smith, and due for release by Software Projects. It is reported that Smith was unhappy with the finished product and it was never released.[6]


Smith closed Software Projects in 1988 without completing any more programs. He lived in a Dutch commune from around 1995 but was deported from the Netherlands in October 1997 and returned to Britain, saying that he had failed to keep his residency papers in order.[4] In the late 1990s, he said he was "surprised and flattered"[7] at the amount of attention and speculation he had attracted on the Internet.

Return to gaming industry[edit]

In 1999 Smith returned to the UK video game industry by taking a job at Dewsbury-based computer game developer Runecraft.

In 2000, he appeared on a British television documentary programme called Thumb Candy about the history of video games in which, in a brief interview, he discussed Manic Miner and his 1980s career. He has also attended and given talks at retrogaming conventions during this decade.

In 2005, a mobile game was released by Numfum, called Jet Set Racing. Smith was featured in the game as a playable character as 'Matt', being the fastest racer of the game.[citation needed]

Smith is working on producing a new game with Elite Systems, who have republished his original games on mobile platforms.[8]


External links[edit]