‘Godfather’ Meier helped put Hunt Valley on gaming map
By Melissa Whatley
Baltimore Sun Media|
Apr 13, 2021 at 5:30 AM
Stretching all the way back to the early 1980s, Hunt Valley has been home to some of the top computer game developers in the country and still boasts a large number of gaming companies.
Of course, none is bigger than game designer Sid Meier, who is often referred to as the “Godfather of Computer Gaming,” with a legacy of almost four decades of best-selling games to his credit.
Late last year, he released a book, “Sid Meier’s Memoir! A Life in Computer Games,” recounting his years of designing some of the biggest games in the industry. In fact, Sid’s games have sold more than 51 million copies worldwide and have accumulated more than 1 billion hours of play.
One of his most enduring and successful games, “Sid Meier’s Civilization,” was first released in 1991 by MicroProse software and is still going strong as Firaxis Games’ “Civilization VI” in 2021. Sid has won virtually every award available in computer gaming and is in too many gaming halls of fame to count.
Sid’s memoir is an interesting and comprehensive look at his career in computer gaming, starting in 1982 with the founding of MicroProse, a company responsible for many groundbreaking and innovative games and the genesis of the many Hunt Valley gaming companies, through the founding and continued success of his current company, Firaxis Games.
The memoir also explores Sid’s philosophy that games should be a “series of interesting decisions,” which is the underlying motivation for many of his games and most notably for “Civilization,” a strategy-based game in which the player is attempting to build a civilization that will stand the test of time.
The Historical Society of Baltimore County recently virtually hosted “A Conversation with Sid Meier!” in which Sid along with his co-writer, Jennifer Lee Noonan, detailed his long career in gaming with many delightful anecdotes and photos.
Sid is still enjoying his part in an industry that results in $150 billion of annual revenue, which is five times bigger than the film industry. He’s especially happy that his games bring families, friends and other folks together in an interactive art form.
Anyone who has had the chance to play one of Sid’s games over the years — from “Pirates!” to “Railroad Tycoon” to “Civilization” — has enjoyed some top-notch entertainment.
Sid’s book also delves into the creative process with some fascinating insights into the world of game design and his love of the process. In the end, as Sid says, “It’s hard to make fun if you aren’t having fun,” which certainly shines through in the final product. Sid Meier’s Memoir! A Life in Computer Games is widely available and a terrific look at inner workings of Sid’s legendary career.