Randy Farmer

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Randy Farmer
Randy Farmer, 2008
Frank Randall Farmer

(1961-10-16) October 16, 1961 (age 62)
Occupation(s)Social Software Innovator, Author, CEO
Known forHabitat, Yahoo! 360°, Social Media Consultant
SpousePamela Farmer

Frank Randall "Randy" Farmer (born October 16, 1961) is an American game developer, co-creator with Chip Morningstar of one of the first graphical online games, 1985's Habitat.[1][2] In 2001 he and Morningstar were the first recipients of the Pioneer Award (at the time called the "First Penguin Award") by the International Game Developers Association. Farmer was involved with the creation of Yahoo! 360 and Communities.com, and has published several works on web and game development, social media, and online communities.


Farmer was born in New Jersey to Frank and Katherine Farmer, and grew up in Michigan. His interest in computers began as a teenager in 1974, as his Junior High School had access to a teletype. He played an early Star Trek game, Mike Mayfield's STTR1, and learned that he could add modifications to it. He began writing his own games at Henry Ford II High School in 1976, and then COMUNI, an early Bulletin board system.[3]

In 1984, Farmer began working at Lucasfilm Games, on an Apple II version of Koronis Rift. It was at Lucasfilm that he met Chip Morningstar, who was beginning design on the Habitat project, a groundbreaking graphical multiplayer adventure game. When the project received funding, Morningstar hired Farmer for the team, along with others such as Aric Wilmunder, Janet Hunter, Noah Falstein and Ron Gilbert.[3][4]

After Lucasfilm, Farmer worked at the American Information Exchange[5] on smart contracts,[6] and founded Communities.com, where he remained from 1993–2001. In 2003 he served as Community Strategy Analyst for Yahoo!, co-designing Yahoo! 360°. From 2009–2011 he was involved with Social Media Strategy Consulting for Answers.com, and in 2011 he founded his own company, Suddenly Social, to provide platform services for social and mobile games. In 2013 he began co-hosting the Social Media Clarity Podcast with Scott Moore and Marc Smith.[7] He was a social media consultant for Rosenfeld Media for 2014-2018.[8]

Farmer was announced as the Executive Director of the Spritely Institute in 2022.[9] The Institute describes itself as "a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public benefit corporation attempting to re-decentralize community on the internet."[10]


In March 2001, Farmer and Morningstar were awarded the inaugural "First Penguin Award" (later renamed to Pioneer Award) by the International Game Developers Association for their work on Habitat.[5][11] In 1995, they were named as Tomorrow Makers by NetGuide magazine.[12]

Selected works[edit]


  • Farmer, Randall (Fall 1988). "Habitat Anecdotes". Electric Communities. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  • Farmer, Randall; Morningstar, Chip (1990). "The Lessons of Lucasfilm's Habitat", presented at the First International Conference on Cyberspace (UT Austin, May 1990). Published in Cyberspace: First Steps, Michael Benedikt (ed.), MIT Press 1991. ISBN 0-262-02327-X.
  • Farmer, Randall (2014). "White Paper: 5 Questions for Selecting an Online Community Platform - Cultivating Community". Cultivate.ning.com. Retrieved 2014-02-24.


Book chapters

  • Farmer, Randall (2012). "Web Reputations and the Real World". In Hassan Masum & Mark Tovey (ed.). The Reputation Society: How Online Opinions Are Reshaping the Offline World. The MIT Press. ISBN 978-0-262-01664-3.



  1. ^ Howarth, Brad (December 18, 2008). "Getting over that flat feeling". The Guardian.
  2. ^ Seibel, Peter (21 December 2009). Coders at Work: Reflections on the Craft of Programming. Apress. p. 95. ISBN 978-1-4302-1949-1. A friend of mine, Chip Morningstar, started [Habitat] [...] Morningstar and Randy Farmer left Lucasfilm [...] -- Douglas Crockford
  3. ^ a b Wallis, Alistair (October 12, 2006). "Playing Catch Up: Habitat's Chip Morningstar and Randy Farmer". Gamasutra. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  4. ^ Shannon, Victoria (June 2, 1996). "Chat rooms come to life in 3-D metaverse". Washington Post.
  5. ^ a b Smith, Rob (2008). "Rogue Leaders - The Story Of Lucasarts". p. 24.
  6. ^ Tribble, Dean (6 October 2020). "I also want to credit @frandallfarmer : together we designed the smart contract state machine to realize Phil's vision for Amix!". Twitter.
  7. ^ "Social Media Clarity podcast". Retrieved March 2, 2013.
  8. ^ Farmer, Randall. "Randy Farmer page at LinkedIn". LinkedIn. Retrieved March 2, 2014.
  9. ^ "FFDW Supports Spritely Networked Communities Institute to Develop Decentralized Social Media". Medium. September 2022.
  10. ^ "About the Spritely Institute".
  11. ^ "First Penguin Archive". Game Developers Choice Awards. Retrieved March 8, 2014.
  12. ^ Fjermedal, Grant (1995). The Tomorrow Makers: NetGuide. January, p. 56.

External links[edit]