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Molyneux, Peter

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

(1959-    ) UK Game designer and entrepreneur, honoured with an Order of the British Empire for "services to the computer game industry" and inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame, both in 2004, awarded the title of Chevalier by the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2007, and recipient of an honorary degree of Doctor of Science from the UK's Southampton University, also in 2007. Molyneux began designing Videogames with The Entrepreneur (1984 DOS), a text-based business simulation which proved to be remarkably unsuccessful commercially, selling only two copies. Most of his subsequent games have been contemporary business simulations or fantasy, though Syndicate (1993) is a notable science-fictional exception.

Molyneux's first major success in game publishing came after he founded the development company Bullfrog with Les Edgar and designed Populous (1989), generally regarded as the first God Game. He has since shown a remarkable range as a designer, from Syndicate – an influential early Real Time Tactics game – to the unusual Sword and Sorcery flight simulator Magic Carpet (1994 Bullfrog, DOS; 1996 PS1, Saturn). Much of his career has, however, been spent exploring the possibilities of the God Game form, the invention of which may be his most significant contribution to game development. Examples of Molyneux designed God Games include the business simulation Theme Park (1994), Dungeon Keeper (1997) – in which the player adopts the role of Dark Lord of a fantasy dungeon – and Black & White (2001), which positions the player as an actual god in search of worshippers. More recently, after selling Bullfrog and creating a new development company, Lionhead, he has largely concentrated on games which express the effects of moral choices through the player character's physical appearance and relationships with other individuals, as in Black & White and the Computer Role Playing Game Fable (2004). Currently he is planning to leave Lionhead – now owned by Microsoft – to join a new independent developer, 22Cans. [NT]

Peter Douglas Molyneux

born Guildford, Surrey: 5 May 1959


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