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Why Sid Meier's name is on his games

Just how did soft-spoken, but brilliant strategy designer Sid Meier end up having his name as part of almost all his games?

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Sid Meier's name is well known in gaming circles for the addicting "just one more turn" mentality associated with his strategy games. Of course, there is never any mistaking what his games are because his name is usually in the game's title.

It can't be because of ego, as colleagues say Meier is a very soft-spoken, unassuming man. "In the [13] years and all the people I've worked with at Firaxis," said designer Jake Solomon, "there has never been anyone who's had a personality issue with Sid, 'cause it's not possible. He's such a wonderful person."

So just how did it happen that the brilliant strategy designer's games get that title treatment? It started in Meier's days at MicroProse with partner Bill Stealey, as Meier was pitching the idea for a pirate game.

"Bill said, 'When's my next flight simulator coming out?' And I said, 'I'm not doing a flight simulator; I'm doing a pirates game,'" Meier told Kotaku. "He said, 'Well that's crazy, 'cause people want your next flight simulator ... Wait a minute. Put your name on it. Maybe if they liked your flight simulator games, they'll recognize the name and buy this crazy pirates thing.'"

However, Stealey remembered things a bit differently: "We were at dinner at a Software Publishers Association meeting, and [actor] Robin Williams was there. And he kept us in stitches for two hours. And he turns to me and says 'Bill, you should put Sid's name on a couple of these boxes, and promote him as the star.' And that's how Sid's name got on Pirates, and Civilization."

Sid Meier's Pirates! came out in 1987, and since that time, his name has appeared on two railroad games, five Civilization games (plus expansions and a console version), two Civil War games, one space game, a colonization game, and even a golf game. Ironically, Meier and Stealey originally teamed up to make flight sims, but the first airplane game to bear his name was the recently released iOS title Sid Meier's Ace Patrol.

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

  • reply
    June 26, 2013 12:50 PM

    John Keefer posted a new article, Why Sid Meier's name is on his games.

    Just how did soft-spoken, but brilliant strategy designer Sid Meier end up having his name as part of almost all his games?

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 1:46 PM

      Reading this was worth it just for the mention of Robin Williams. :D

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 2:39 PM

      I really enjoyed Sid Meier's XCOM: Enemy Unknown.

      • reply
        June 26, 2013 6:19 PM

        That was Jake Solomon's baby... a good one, but I wish they would have kept it closer to X-Com: UFO Defense.

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          June 26, 2013 7:06 PM

          That was a joke. Sid Meier barely has a hand in any of the games bearing his name. Jake Solomon did a good job.

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            June 27, 2013 6:01 AM

            You are entirely incorrect. In addition to doing a lot of design work, he still codes on all his games.

            Don't spout random stuff you have no idea about. If you want to know more, check out the Idle Thumbs episode with one of the designers of XCOM, where the team specifically talks about sid Meier's contributions.

    • reply
      June 26, 2013 7:42 PM

      nice informative article, thanks

    • reply
      June 27, 2013 1:29 AM

      What if Tom Clancy and Sid Meier got together for a collab?

    • reply
      June 27, 2013 2:22 AM

      SimGolf FTW!

      • reply
        June 27, 2013 5:34 AM

        haha ya I recently re-installed this and am having as much fun as I remember it always being... FOOOOURR

    • reply
      June 27, 2013 5:56 AM

      The version of events I've always heard is a bit more mundane.

      Back when they were making Civilization they discovered that there was a board game from Avalon Hill also called Civilization and they had even made a computer game out of it, Computer Civilization. One version of events says that Sid Meier knew about it ahead of time and didn't properly inform everyone that he had borrowed some ideas from it. So they went to Avalon Hill and negotiated the right to put out the game if they called it Sid Meier's Civilization. Some copies came with a flyer to buy the Avalon Hill game as part of the deal.

      So when it comes time to make a sequel they figure out that they can put it out as long as they call it Sid Meier's Civilization II, which only makes sense since Sid Meier had a hand in it. This is why the second expansion pack is called Civ2: Fantastic Worlds - they couldn't call it Civilization without putting Sid Meier's on the name and Sid Meier had left to form Firaxis by then.

      Activision secures the rights to the Civilization name from Avalon Hill, so they can put out Civilization: Call to Power. Microprose then buys Hartland Trefoil who, it turns out, was licensing the name Civilization to Avalon Hill in the first place. This is why Call to Power II doesn't have Civilization in the name.

      Anyway lots of money and dick waving later everything is settled in time for Sid Meier's Civilization III. So the logic behind putting Sid Meier's name on the Civilization anyway is purely for legal reasons.

      • reply
        June 27, 2013 6:52 AM

        I reject your uninteresting explanation and prefer the ones listed by ShackNews, instead. :P

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      September 26, 2013 10:01 PM

      actually it was 2 console games the other console civilization was for the super Nintendo which was a port from the original pc version