It's a powerful thing, and in the wide world of consumable media, its the difference between a movie and a video game. Outside of taking the time to view alternative endings, a film or a TV series is one that you absorb, rather than taking part in. Black Mirror's Bandersnatch managed to play with the concept of "choose your own adventure", but outside of a few, less intensive experiences (Werewolf Time being a personal favourite*). A album or Spotify playlist can be randomised, but each song remains the same as when it was recorded. You can change the taste of the product, but rare is the day when you can change it's structure.
Ian Livingstone CBE is an English fantasy author and entrepreneur. Along with Steve Jackson, he is the co-founder of a series of role-playing gamebooks, Fighting Fantasy, and the author of many books within that series. He is also one of the co-founders of Games Workshop.
Livingstone attended Altrincham Grammar School for Boys, where, according to him, he only earned one A-level in Geography. He has kept his close links with the school and has visited it on numerous occasions, including to donate money for a refurbishment of the ICT suite and to present awards to GCSE recipients in 1998.
Livingstone co-founded Games Workshop in early 1975 with flatmates John Peake and Steve Jackson. They started publishing a monthly newsletter, Owl and Weasel, and sent copies of the first issue to subscribers of the recently defunct fanzine Albion; Brian Blume received one of these copies, and sent them a copy of the new game Dungeons & Dragons in return. Livingstone and Jackson felt that this game was more imaginative than anything being produced in the UK at the time, and so worked out an arrangement with Blume for an exclusive deal to sell D&D in Europe.
They began distributing Dungeons & Dragons and other TSR products later in 1975. In late 1975, Livingstone and Jackson organised their first convention, the first Games Day. Because they were selling products out of their flat, people would come looking for a store that did not exist; because of this they were evicted in the summer of 1976.
Under the direction of Livingstone and Jackson, Games Workshop expanded from a bedroom mail order company to a successful gaming manufacturer and retail chain, with the first Games Workshop store opening in Hammersmith in 1977. In June of that year, partially to advertise the opening, Livingstone and Jackson launched the gaming magazine White Dwarf, with Livingstone as the editor. Livingstone picked the title, which had meaning for both fantasy and science fiction readers: a white dwarf could be a stellar phenomenon or a fantasy character. Livingstone stepped down as editor of the magazine after White Dwarf #74 (February 1986).
In 1980, Livingstone and Jackson 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. Livingstone and Jackson sold Games Workshop in 1991 for £10 million.
The pair, together with Bryan Ansell, founded Citadel Miniatures in Newark to make miniatures for games.
Livingstone has also invented several board games, including Boom Town, Judge Dredd, Automania, Legend of Zagor, and Dragonmasters.
In 1982, Jackson and Livingstone co-wrote The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, the first book in the Fighting Fantasy series, but following an instruction from publishers Penguin to write more books "as quickly as possible" the pair wrote subsequent books separately. The series had sold over 14 million copies in 23 languages as of 1998, with Livingstone's Deathtrap Dungeon selling over 300,000 copies in the United Kingdom alone. Livingstone wrote another twelve Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, including The Forest of Doom, City of Thieves and Caverns of the Snow Witch before marking the 30th anniversary of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain with a new gamebook, Blood of the Zombies, in 2012; the title was selected by a vote on the Fighting Fantasy website.
In the mid-1980s Livingstone did design work for video game publisher Domark; he returned to the company in 1993 as a major investor and board member. In 1995, Domark was acquired by the video technology company Eidos plc, which had been floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1990, and formed the major part of the newly created Eidos Interactive. In 2005 Eidos was taken over by SCi and Livingstone was the only former board member to be retained, taking on the role of product acquisition director. Livingstone secured many of the company's major franchises, including Tomb Raider and Hitman. He contributed to the Tomb Raider project Tomb Raider: Anniversary (an enhanced version of the original Tomb Raider game), which was released in 2007. In 2009, Japanese video-game company Square Enix completed a buyout of Eidos Interactive and Livingstone was promoted to Life President of Eidos.
In 2014 Livingstone appeared in the documentary feature film From Bedrooms to Billions (2014) a film that tells the story of the British Video Games Industry from 1979 to present.
In 2010 Livingstone was asked to act as the Skills Champion by government minister Ed Vaizey, tasked with producing a report reviewing the UK video games industry. The report, co-authored with Alex Hope of visual effects firm Double Negative, was released in 2011; Livingstone described it as a "complete bottom up review of the whole education system relating to games."
In 2002, Livingstone won the BAFTA Interactive Special Award for outstanding contribution to the industry.
Livingstone was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2006 New Year Honours, and Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2013 New Year Honours both for services to the computer gaming industry.
In 2011, Livingstone received an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Bournemouth University.
Fighting Fantasy Books by Ian Livingstone:
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