Seamus Blackley

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Seamus Blackley
Seamus Blackley.jpg
Blackley in May 2005
Born Jonathan Blackley
1967/1968 (age 47–48)[1]
Occupation Video game designer, agent
Known for Flight Unlimited, Xbox

Jonathan "Seamus" Blackley[2][3] (born 1967 or 1968)[1][3] is an American video game designer and former agent with Creative Artists Agency representing video game creators.

After entering Tufts University to study electrical engineering, Blackley switched to study physics and graduated in 1990,[3] Summa cum Honore en Tesis. As a sophomore, he published his first paper in the Journal of Magnetic Resonance. After college, he studied High Energy Physics at the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, until the Superconducting Supercollider project was cancelled in 1993.

Blackley then went to work at Blue Sky Productions, later called Looking Glass Studios. In addition to his work on Ultima Underworld and System Shock, Blackley helped to create the sophisticated physics system in Flight Unlimited. He is mentioned in the Flight Unlimited manual as follows:

Following the completion of Flight Unlimited in 1995, Blackley planned to use that game's computational fluid dynamics (CFDs) code to create a combat flight simulator called Flight Combat.[4][5][6] However, a new manager at Looking Glass Studios demanded that Blackley instead design a direct sequel to Flight Unlimited. Blackley refused and was fired, leaving the company in late 1995.[5][7] As a result, the second and third games did not have quite as sophisticated physics (though still arguably better than other games of the time), and the series became more civilian in nature.[citation needed]

After Looking Glass, Blackley worked at DreamWorks Interactive as executive producer of Jurassic Park: Trespasser, a physics-rich game published in 1998 (one of the most notorious failures in PC gaming history). In February 1999, Blackley joined Microsoft. Originally hired to work on DirectX, he co-wrote the initial Xbox proposal, and helped assemble the team that designed and built the device. He then promoted the Xbox to game developers around the world.[citation needed]

Blackley left Microsoft in 2002 to co-found Capital Entertainment Group with former Microsoft co-worker Kevin Bachus after his time developing the Xbox.[8] CEG aimed to reform the financing models available in the game industry, following the Hollywood studio model, to provide more flexibility and creative control to game makers, and loosen the grip publishers had on control of the game industry. CEG was unable to complete a game before folding in 2003.[9]

From 2003 through May 2011, Blackley represented video game developers at the Creative Artists Agency, evolving the position of video games within the entertainment industry.[10]

In 2007, Blackley received the P.T. Barnum Award from Tufts University for his exceptional work in the field of media and entertainment.[3]

As of February 2012, Blackley is president of Innovative Leisure, a startup founded with partner Van Burnham, who is the chief executive. The company is developing games for iOS devices.[11]


  1. ^ a b "Major Architect of Microsoft's Xbox Resigns to Start a Game Company". The Wall Street Journal. April 23, 2002. Seamus Blackley, 34 years old 
  2. ^ Takahashi, Dean (April 11, 2002). "Captain Xbox: The inside story of how Seamus Blackley and a team of renegades persuaded Microsoft to build a video game console". Red Herring. Archived from the original on August 3, 2002. 
  3. ^ a b c d Flaherty, Julie (Summer 2007). "The Auteur Theory of Video Games". Tufts Magazine. Tufts University. Blackley, 39 … “Seamus” is something of a stage name he earned at Looking Glass. Seamus née (sic) Jonathan … 
  4. ^ Yee, Bernie (March 1995). "Through the Looking Glass". PC Gamer US 2 (3): 62, 63, 65, 67, 69. 
  5. ^ a b Takahashi, Dean (April 23, 2002). Opening the Xbox: Inside Microsoft's Plan to Unleash an Entertainment Revolution. Prima Lifestyle. ISBN 0-7615-3708-2. 
  6. ^ Staff (June 7, 1995). "Looking Glass Technologies Ships Flight Unlimited Worldwide". PR Newswire. 
  7. ^ Laprad, David (September 8, 1998). "The Evolution of the Prehistoric Beast: An Interview with Trespasser Project Leader Seamus Blackley". Adrenaline Vault. Archived from the original on December 5, 1998. 
  8. ^ Ackerman, Kyle (May 11, 2003). "Interview with Seamus Blackley, Capital Entertainment Group". Frictionless Insight. 
  9. ^ Takahashi, Dean (November 11, 2003). "Gaming middleman throws in the towel". Mercury News. Archived from the original on February 17, 2004. 
  10. ^ Graser, Marc (May 26, 2011). "Seamus Blackley exits CAA". Variety. 
  11. ^ Takahashi, Dean (February 2, 2012). "Xbox co-creator Seamus Blackley launches mobile-game startup with Atari arcade veterans". VentureBeat. 

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