Ian Livingstone Interview

by Ethane_3

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Here's an interview with Ian Livingstone:

CYS: Ian, can I ask you how you yourself first got interested in fantasy gaming and what was your first fantasy game?

Ian: Before fantasy gaming, I used to play many war games,both tabletop battles using miniatures and board war games. When in early 1975 Steve Jackson and I got our hands on a copy of Dungeons & Dragons that was it. We became overnight converts to fantasy games.

CYS: Did you realise how popular the Fighting Fantasy books would become at the time?

Ian: When they were first published in 1982, we had no idea how successful they were going to be. By the time they had sold over 14 million copies in 23 languages, we had a good idea just how popular they were! I cannot believe it is over 20 years since The Warlock of Firetop Mountain was first published -and now the books are being republished by Icon.

CYS: Ian, where did the idea for 'Warlock on Firetop Mountain' come from and where did you draw inspiration for the setting?

Ian: Steve and I had been playing and selling D&D for over 5 years through Games Workshop before we came up with the idea for Warlock. A lot of very amusing and exciting events had taken place in our dungeons and it was all recorded on paper. We were also keen readers of science fiction and fantasy novels and collected comics. So there was a lot of source material implanted in our sub consciousness. Plus we had had plenty of writing experience with White Dwarf.

CYS: White Dwarf?

Ian: White Dwarf is a magazine that first appeared in 1977 to become Games Workshop's glossy monthly magazine dedicated to role-playing games. We felt that the RPG hobby needed its own magazine and since no other publisher was willing to dedicate a magazine to RPG's we had to do it ourselves. It was born out of Owl & Weasel which had been Workshop's own fanzine since 1975. Warlock came about for a similar reason only this time to dedicate a magazine to our Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks . It ceased publication in 1987.

CYS: What books did you read when you were growing up Ian?

Ian: Lord of the Rings and everything by Philip K Dick.

CYS: Ian, What Gamebooks of yours are you most proud of and why?

Ian: Warlock of Firetop Mountain would have to be one of them as it was the first and Deathtrap Dungeon because I enjoyed writing it the most out of all my books.

CYS:Are there any plans for any new adventures by you? Will we get to meet Yaztromo again?

Ian: I will admit to thinking about writing one more Fighting Fantasy book. However, whether I will or not is another matter! If I do, I promise that you will meet Yaztromo again.

CYS: A question from fans. How long does it take you to write a Fighting Fantasy book? How do you plan and write one?

Ian: It takes between three and six months to write a book depending on available time. I think of the mission first, the characters, the traps and the monsters. Then I write rather like writing a flowchart for a computer program.

CYS: Are there any plans for any more games based on Fighting Fantasy especially Deathtrap Dungeon ?

Ian: Not at the moment.

CYS: What would you like to see in the future of Fighting Fantasy?

Ian: A film based on one of the books.

CYS: Is there still any future in fantasy games?

Ian: Fantasy has been in our psyche for thousands of years. From Greek mythology to King Arthur's Knights to Lord of the Rings, people like to escape into other worlds. So there is no reason why fantasy games should not continue to be popular, especially with the increased graphics capabilities of next generation games consoles and PCs.

CYS: You have been at the cutting edge of the gaming industry for a very long time. What do you think the future of gaming is?

Ian: Computer gaming will continue to grow as a mainstream entertainment industry thanks to advances in technology. It is the only medium, which improves significantly with new hardware. The closer the viewing image gets to be like watching television, the more the mass market will be attracted to it. Recognisable characters in fully interactive and recognisable environments are a very compelling experience. Board games, alas, appear to be on the wane as people cannot be bothered to learn the rules to new games and get four or five friends to play.

CYS: Did you think that the future of games would be computer-driven when you started the Fighting Fantasy series and founded Games Workshop?

Ian: When Steve and I started Games Workshop in 1975 computer games did not exist. However, as time passed and the first games consoles appeared, it became quite reasonable to assume that technology would quickly drive growth. In fact we stocked computer games in the main Games Workshop shops in the 1980's. I soon became convinced that the future of lay in computer games and after dabbling in a couple of projects, I 'jumped ship' into computer games full time in 1993 before becoming Chairman of Eidos in 1995.

CYS: Thanks Ian.