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Crawford, Chris

Entry updated 29 October 2021. Tagged: Author, Game.

(1950-    ) US Game designer, important in the early years of commercial Videogame development and subsequently noted for his distaste for the direction taken by the industry. Crawford was an enthusiastic player of board and counter Wargames who went on to design many of the seminal Computer Wargames, including Tanktics (1976) – his first commercially published game – Eastern Front (1941) (1981) and Legionnaire (1982) (see Computer Wargames). His most notable work was perhaps Balance of Power (1985 DOS, Mac; 1986 AppleII; 1987 Amiga, AtariST; 1988 MSX; 1988 rev vt Balance of Power: The 1990 Edition Mac; 1989 Amiga, AppleII, AtariST, DOS), a deep and sometimes unnerving simulation of superpower confrontation in the Cold War era, whose players must constantly choose between making humiliating (and low scoring) concessions to the enemy and triggering a global apocalypse. Crawford's only truly science-fictional game, however, has been Trust and Betrayal: The Legacy of Siboot (1987), an interesting early experiment in emergent storytelling (see Interactive Narrative).

Crawford was also prominent as an early advocate of game design as an art form. In this connection he founded the Journal of Computer Game Design, the first periodical to cover its subject matter, and the Computer Game Developers Conference (now the highly successful Game Developers Conference), both in 1987. In the early 1990s, however, Crawford became increasingly disenchanted with the Videogame industry, criticizing it for a perceived lack of innovation and over reliance on special effects. He has subsequently concentrated on developing his own approach to the problems of "interactive storytelling", creating a technology known as the Storytron (see Interactive Narrative). [NT]

Chris Crawford

born 1950



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