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12:11pm on Thursday, 21st December, 2017:



I met Bill Louden yesterday, at the offices of ADVFN in London. We'd met very briefly once before (in an "Oh, Bill, before you go, let me introduce you to Richard Bartle"-"Hi, pleased to meet you"-[shake hands]-"Sorry, I have to go now" kind of way). Yesterday, I met him again, properly, and we chatted for several hours.

Bill Louden is one of the most important figures in online game history. He set up the CompuServe Information Service, which brough games, email and chat to what at the time was called an "information provider". He then left and set up GEnie, which was the main games-hosting platform of the 1980s. GEnie's stable included such games as GemStone, Dragon's Gate, Air Warrior, CyberStrike, Hundred Years War, DragonRealms and Federation II. He then went on to manage Delphi, another major games platform of the era. He should be one of the most lauded people in the industry, but (as is often the case with pioneers) he doesn't appear in many histories as they don't go back far enough. It's as if people figure that the World Wide Web is the Internet, and anything that came before the browser therefore can't be relevant to today. He doesn't even have a Wikipedia page, despite being mentioned by name in several Wikipedia articles. How can that be? He used to play poker with Bill Gates and Steve Jobs!

He remains insightful about the games industry (because why wouldn't he be?) and shares many of my concerns regarding how it's gone and where it's going. The old emphasis on games and gameplay is diminshed, and with it much of what makes games special. I think I'm probably more cantakerous about it than he is, though.

Here's a photo of neither of us quite looking at the camera.

The absolute best thing about meeting him, from my point of view, is that he actually knew who I was.

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Copyright © 2017 Richard Bartle (richard@mud.co.uk).