Why Sid Meier's name is on his games

By John Keefer, Jun 26, 2013 12:50pm PDT

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.

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