Steve Jackson (British game designer)

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Steve Jackson
Born (1951-05-20) 20 May 1951 (age 72)
EducationKeele University (1968 - 1972)
Occupation(s)Fantasy author, entrepreneur, game designer, writer, game reviewer
Known for

Steve Jackson (born 20 May 1951) is a British game designer, writer, game reviewer and co-founder of UK game publisher Games Workshop.


Steve Jackson began his career in games in 1974 as a freelance journalist with Games & Puzzles magazine.[1] In early 1975, Jackson co-founded the company Games Workshop with school friends John Peake and Ian Livingstone.[2][3]: 43  They started publishing with the monthly newsletter, Owl and Weasel, on which Jackson did most of the writing, and they sent copies of the first issue to subscribers of the Albion fanzine; Brian Blume, co-partner of American publisher TSR, received one of these copies and in return sent back a copy of TSR's new game Dungeons & Dragons. Jackson and Livingstone felt that this game was more imaginative than any other contemporary games being produced in the UK, and so worked out an arrangement with Blume for an exclusive deal to sell D&D in Europe.[3]: 43  In late 1975, Jackson and Livingstone organized their first convention, the initial Games Day.[3]: 43  While selling game products directly from their flat, their landlord evicted them in summer 1976 after people kept going there looking for a physical store.[3]: 43  By 1978 the first Games Workshop store had opened, in London.[4]

At a Games Day convention in 1980 Jackson and Livingstone met Geraldine Cooke, an editor at Penguin Books. They persuaded her to consider publication of a book about the role-playing hobby. This was originally intended to be an introductory guide, but the idea of an interactive gamebook seemed more appealing.[5] After several months Cooke decided that this was viable and commissioned Jackson and Livingstone to develop it.[6] In 1980, Jackson and Livingstone began to develop the concept of the Fighting Fantasy gamebook series, the first volume of which (The Warlock of Firetop Mountain) was published in 1982 by Puffin Books (a subsidiary imprint of Penguin).[3]: 46  Jackson and Livingstone would go on to individually write many volumes each, with further authors adding even more. Steve Jackson notably wrote Sorcery!, a four-part series utilizing the same system as Fighting Fantasy but where Fighting Fantasy mainly targeted children, Steve Jackson's Sorcery! was marketed to an older audience.[7] Jackson and Livingstone attributed the gamebooks' popularity to their difficulty.[8]

After the success of the Fighting Fantasy series, Jackson designed the first interactive telephone role-playing game, FIST, which was based loosely on the concepts of the gamebooks.[9] Jackson and Livingstone sold their Games Workshop stake in 1991.[3]: 50  In the mid-1990s Jackson spent 2.5 years as a games journalist with the London Daily Telegraph.[1] He then set up computer games developer Lionhead Studios with Peter Molyneux.[1] Jackson left Lionhead in 2006 when Microsoft bought the company.[7] He is an honorary professor at Brunel University in London, where he teaches the Digital Games Theory and Design MA.[9]

He is often mistaken for the American game designer with the same name: Steve Jackson.[10] The American Jackson wrote three books in the Fighting Fantasy series,[11] which adds to the confusion, especially as these books were simply credited to "Steve Jackson" without any acknowledgement that it was a different person.[12]



Video games[edit]



  1. ^ a b c Jackson, Steve (2007). "The Warlord". In Lowder, James (ed.). Hobby Games: The 100 Best. Green Ronin Publishing. pp. 365–368. ISBN 978-1-932442-96-0.
  2. ^ Livingstone, Ian (April 1975). "Editorial". Owl and Weasel. Games Workshop (3): 2.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  4. ^ "The Gaming Dynasty That Began In A West London Flat". Londonist. 4 January 2018. Retrieved 18 May 2020.
  5. ^ McFerran, Damien (16 August 2013). "You are the hero: A history of Fighting Fantasy". Eurogamer. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  6. ^ Davison, Pete (16 August 2013). "You Are The Hero: A History of Fighting Fantasy". USgamer. Retrieved 18 January 2022.
  7. ^ a b Plant, Mike (6 June 2013). "Interview: Steve Jackson, role-playing game titan". The Register. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  8. ^ Capper, Andy. "Steve Jackson & Ian Livingstone". Vice. Archived from the original on 26 August 2014. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  9. ^ a b Dredge, Stuart (23 January 2014). "Steve Jackson talks F.I.S.T. – the first interactive telephone role playing game". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 August 2014.
  10. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions". Steve Jackson Games. 29 March 2007. Retrieved 14 September 2007.
  11. ^ "Steve Jackson – Biography and Public Warning". Steve Jackson Games. 14 December 2010. Retrieved 6 November 2011.
  12. ^ other than one subtle difference: a book written by either of the two co-founders is credited as "by Steve Jackson" or "by Ian Livingstone". A book written by any other author is introduced as "Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone presents" with the author's name simply listed in the preliminaries.

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