Sam Barlow (game designer)

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Sam Barlow
Sam Barlow headshot (cropped).png
Alma materUniversity of Bristol
OccupationVideo game designer
Years active1999–present
EmployerHalf Mermaid
Notable workHer Story; Immortality

Sam Barlow is a British video game designer, best known as the writer and designer of Her Story, the two British Silent Hill games, Silent Hill: Origins and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories, and Immortality.[1][2] He previously worked as a game director at Climax Studios,[3] before leaving in 2014 to become an indie game developer. He published his first independent game, Her Story, in June 2015.[4] In 2017 he founded Half Mermaid, a video game production company based in Brooklyn, New York.

Interactive fiction[edit]

Barlow was active in the interactive fiction scene of the late 1990s,[5] most notably releasing the game Aisle in 1999. It won the XYZZY Award for Best Use of Medium. Like his later Silent Hill games, Aisle features a psychologically damaged viewpoint character, a contemporary setting and a positive meaning at its heart.[6]

In March 2016, during the Game Developers Conference, Barlow announced he had joined the interactive media firm Interlude, later rebranded as Eko, to help them develop an interactive media reboot of the 1983 film WarGames.[7] The work #WarGames launched in early 2018.[8]


Barlow frequently cites novelists and film directors as having influenced his work. He claims that Hitchcock, Luis Buñuel and J. G. Ballard influenced his work on Silent Hill: Shattered Memories.[9] Both Silent Hill titles reference Shakespeare (Silent Hill: Origins features a performance of The Tempest,[10] whilst Silent Hill: Shattered Memories has multiple references to Twelfth Night). He has also been inspired by David Lynch, Mark Z. Danielewski, Paul Auster, Shirley Jackson, The Exorcist and Gene Wolfe.[11] Consistently his most frequently cited influence is Hitchcock, for example: "I bored everyone with Hitchcock and talking about his techniques and his ideas of suspense"[12] and "Hitchcock said that all horror goes back to childhood, that's why it's a universal thing – it's a fundamental".[13] Barlow cites Cronenberg's The Fly and Paul Schrader's Cat People as showing how best to reboot an existing story.[14]

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role Publisher
1999 Aisle Developer Sam Barlow
2004 Serious Sam: Next Encounter[15] Lead designer Global Star Software
2006 Crusty Demons Deep Silver
2007 Ghost Rider 2K Games
Silent Hill: Origins Lead designer and writer Konami
2009 Silent Hill: Shattered Memories
2015 Her Story Director and writer Sam Barlow
2018 #WarGames Creative lead Eko
2019 Telling Lies[16] Director and writer Annapurna Interactive
2022 Immortality[17][18] Half Mermaid Productions

Canceled games[edit]

Title Role
Elveon Lead designer and writer
Legacy of Kain: Dead Sun Director


  1. ^ Long, Neil. "Writer's roundtable: the death of Irrational and the trouble with blockbuster videogame narrative". Edge. Climax Studios game director Sam Barlow is a videogame writer of equal experience and renown, having written several Silent Hill games
  2. ^ "The Players: Climax Studios". GamesTM (61): 6. GamesTM speaks with Sam Barlow, the visionary lead designer on the latest Silent Hill to come from the heart of Climax Studios
  3. ^ "Key People". Climax Studios Official Site.
  4. ^ "Serial-style mystery game Her Story launches June 24". Polygon. 3 June 2015.
  5. ^ "The Making Of: Silent Hill Shattered Memories". EDGE. No. 263.
  6. ^ Douglass, Jeremy (2007). Command Lines: Aesthetics and Technique in Interactive Fiction and New Media (Thesis). The University of California, Santa Barbara. p. 309.
  7. ^ "The Player: 'Her Story' creator to tackle interactive reboot of 'WarGames'". Los Angeles Times. 15 March 2016.
  8. ^ "WarGames gets rebooted as an interactive hacking TV show". 9 February 2018.
  9. ^ Barlow, Sam. "The Sam Barlow Hour". Official Silent Hill Blog. Konami.
  10. ^ McNally, Rand. "Silent Hill: Origins Review". Game Revolution. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  11. ^ Barlow, Sam. "Defining Horror with Sam Barlow". Rely On Horror. Retrieved 28 April 2014.
  12. ^ East, Thomas. "Wii Feature: Silent Hill Shattered Memories Interview". Official Nintendo Magazine. Archived from the original on 2014-10-09. Retrieved 2014-05-01.
  13. ^ Casamassina, Matt (10 April 2009). "Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Interview". IGN.
  14. ^ Casamassina, Matt (10 April 2009). "Silent Hill: Shattered Memories Interview". IGN.
  15. ^ Green, Mark (December 2004). "The Making of... Serious Sam". NGC Magazine. No. 100. Future Publishing. pp. 108–111.
  16. ^ Chalk, Andy (July 14, 2017). "Her Story creator reveals new game will be called Telling Lies". PC Gamer. Future plc. Retrieved July 14, 2017.
  17. ^ Wilde, Tyler (2020-06-24). "Sam Barlow's mysterious next game is '10 times more ambitious' than Telling Lies". PC Gamer. Retrieved 2020-08-16.
  18. ^ Tyler, Ben (June 13, 2021). "Immortality is Telling Lies director Sam Barlow's next game". GamesRadar. Retrieved June 13, 2021.

External links[edit]