Sean Vanaman

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Sean Vanaman
Sean Vanaman cropped.jpg
Born (1984-06-16) June 16, 1984 (age 37)
Cork, Ireland
CitizenshipAmerican, Irish
OccupationVideo game designer, writer, podcaster
Years active2009–present
Known forCampo Santo
Notable work

Sean Vanaman[1] (born June 16, 1984) is an Irish–American video game designer, writer, and podcaster. He was the co-project leader and lead writer of The Walking Dead,[2] and Puzzle Agent 2.[3] He also wrote the third episode of Tales of Monkey Island, and was the designer of Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures,[4] and the writer of the third episode, Muzzled. He was one of the regular hosts of the Idle Thumbs podcast and is one of the co-founders of Campo Santo, the company that produced Firewatch.

Early life[edit]

Vanaman was born and raised in Cork, Ireland. He and his family moved from Ireland to the United States.[1]


While studying at University of Southern California, Vanaman interned at Buena Vista Games (later renamed Disney Interactive Studios) in their creative development group. This group put together the initial concept and pitch for Epic Mickey in 2003.[1] After graduation, he worked as an associate creative development producer at Disney Interactive. In 2008, Vanaman took a position at Telltale Games as a writer and game designer. He worked on Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures, Tales of Monkey Island, and Nelson Tethers: Puzzle Agent before becoming project lead on Poker Night at the Inventory and The Walking Dead.

In September 18, 2013, he and Jake Rodkin left Telltale and joined with Olly Moss and Mark of the Ninja lead designer Nels Anderson to found Campo Santo.[5]


Tales of Monkey Island, for which Vanaman co-wrote, was nominated for "Best Artistic Design" and won for the award for "Biggest Surprise" at IGN's Best of PC E3 2009 Awards.[6] After release, it won the PC Gamer 2009 "Adventure Game of the Year",[7] was nominated for the IGN "Best Adventure Game of the Year" for PC and Wii,[8][9] won the Adventure Gamers "Best Adventure of 2009",[10] and was named the "Best Series Revival" by OC Weekly.[11]

Puzzle Agent 2 was nominated at IGN's Best of E3 2011 Awards for "Best iPhone/iPad Game".[12] The Walking Dead also won over 90 "Game of the Year" awards since release.[13]

Vanaman won Game (Original Adventure) and Writing in a Drama at the 2017 National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers Awards for his work on Firewatch.[14]


Year Title Role Genre Company
2009 Wallace & Gromit's Grand Adventures Writer/designer Graphic adventure Telltale Games
Tales of Monkey Island Writer/designer
2010 Sam & Max: The Devil's Playhouse Episode design – The City that Dares Not Sleep Point-and-click game
Puzzle Agent Writer

Puzzle design

CSI: Fatal Conspiracy Designer Ubisoft
Poker Night at the Inventory Project leader Poker Telltale Games
2011 Puzzle Agent 2 Lead writer Puzzle
2012 The Walking Dead Director (Episodes 1, 3 and 5), Project leader, Lead Writer Graphic adventure
2016 Firewatch Writer Adventure game Panic
2020 Half-Life: Alyx First-person shooter Valve


In September 2017, after known YouTuber PewDiePie said the racial slur "nigger" while live-streaming the game PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds, Vanaman called him "worse than a closeted racist".[15] He then said on Twitter that he would be issuing DMCA copyright takedowns on PewDiePie's videos that contained footage of Vanaman's game Firewatch,[16] and urged other game developers to do the same.[17] This led to backlash and review bombing of Firewatch on Steam.[18]

In November 2020, a Reddit post accused Vanaman of abusing his administrative privileges as a Valve employee, by manually penalizing a fellow Dota 2 player for not following his recommended playstyle. Vanaman responded by apologizing on behalf of Valve and stating that employees from thereon out would be stripped of their in-game administrative tools - leaving actions explicitly to respondents of formal player reports.[19]


  1. ^ a b c Chris Remo, Jake Rodkin, Sean Vanaman (March 10, 2011). "The Idle Thumbs Conf Grenade 2011: GDC 2011: Games" (Podcast). Event occurs at 44:16–55:34. Retrieved May 13, 2013.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ "PAX East 2011: Telltale Talks Puzzle Agent 2". Inside Gaming Daily. Retrieved December 11, 2011.
  3. ^ "Puzzle Agent 2 hands-on archived preview". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  4. ^ "Comedy in games is no laughing matter". GameSpot. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
  5. ^ "New studio formed by Walking Dead, Mark of the Ninja devs – Destructoid". Destructoid. Retrieved September 19, 2013.
  6. ^ "Best of PC E3 2009 Awards". IGN. June 11, 2009. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
  7. ^ "PC Gamer Game of the Year Awards". PC Gamer. January 2010.
  8. ^ "Wii Best Adventure Game 2009". IGN. 2009. Archived from the original on February 29, 2012. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  9. ^ "PC Best Adventure Game 2009". IGN. 2009. Archived from the original on December 18, 2009. Retrieved December 3, 2011.
  10. ^ "Best Adventure of 2009". Adventure Gamers. 2009. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  11. ^ Mai, Peter (December 22, 2009). "Best and Worst Video Games of 2009". OC Weekly. Village Voice Media. Archived from the original on January 12, 2010. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
  12. ^ "E3 2011: Best of E3 Awards". IGN. June 6, 2011. Archived from the original on June 9, 2011. Retrieved December 5, 2011.
  13. ^ "The Walking Dead from Telltale Games Now Available at Retail in the UK". Just Adventure. May 10, 2013. Archived from the original on September 4, 2013. Retrieved September 3, 2013.
  14. ^ "NAVGTR Awards (2016)". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers.
  15. ^ Sean Vanaman [@vanaman] (September 10, 2017). "He's worse than a closeted racist: he's a propagator of despicable garbage that does real damage to the culture around this industry." (Tweet). Retrieved May 16, 2019 – via Twitter.
  16. ^ Sean Vanaman [@vanaman] (September 10, 2017). "We're filing a DMCA takedown of PewDiePie's Firewatch content and any future Campo Santo games." (Tweet). Retrieved May 16, 2019 – via Twitter.[non-primary source needed]
  17. ^ Sean Vanaman [@vanaman] (September 10, 2017). "I'd urge other developers & will be reaching out to folks much larger than us to cut him off from the content that has made him a milionaire" (Tweet). Retrieved May 16, 2019 – via Twitter.
  18. ^ Walker, Alex (September 13, 2017). "Amid Pewdiepie Controversy, Firewatch Gets Review Bombed". Kotaku AU. Gizmodo Media Group. Retrieved May 16, 2019.
  19. ^ Stanton, Rich (November 23, 2020). "Valve employee apologizes for punishing Dota 2 teammate with ban". PC Gamer. Retrieved November 24, 2020.

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