How Sid Meier became one of the most recognizable names in gaming

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Ian Birnbaum at

Sid Meier is second only, perhaps, to Tom Clancy in the ranking of “guys with their names at the front of game titles.” Unlike Clancy, though, Meier actually had a hand in developing legendary games like Sid Meier’s Civilization, Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri, Sid Meier’s Pirates!, and the original X-COM.

Meier hasn’t always courted the press, but over at Kotaku there’s a lengthy feature interview relating Meier’s recollection of pivotal moments in gaming history. For example, there’s the somewhat-disputed origin of the “Sid Meier’s” moniker that made its way to so many of our favorite games:

“We were at dinner at a Software Publishers Association meeting, and [actor] Robin Williams was there,” longtime collaborator Bill Stealey says. “And he kept us in stitches for two hours. And he turns to me and says ‘Bill, you should put Sid's name on a couple of these boxes, and promote him as the star.’ And that's how Sid's name got on Pirates, and Civilization.”

The interview also explores a lot of Meier’s personality, including some aspects that I had never known before. Meier is a devout Christian who plays music for his church. Though his games are frequently about violent times and places, there is never any blood or gore shown. He designs and creates his games by playing them, over and over, until they are fun.

For a ton of great anecdotes about the games and studios that defined Meier’s career and, in turn, defined an industry and a generation of gamers, check out the full profile.

Image from Firaxis.