A surprise phone call last week from Games Workshop rekindled a childhood passion for me. As the GW agent was blissfully unaware of the fact, it gave me enormous pride to announce that one of his company’s co-founders was this year knighted for doing so, amongst other accolades.
And none could be more deserving than Sir Ian Livingstone: co-founder of Games Workshop in 1975 (with then flatmates John Peake and Steve Jackson), and Citadel Miniatures shortly thereafter in 1979. Forever pioneering, Sir Ian’s resume is a glittering showcase of constant expansion and embellishment within the world of gaming, lavished with awards to show for it. Whether tabletop gaming, roleplaying, or video gaming, Sir Ian has always, and continues to, extend the possibilities, and ensure that the next generation are given the opportunity to share in his unbridled passion for the industry.
For me, Sir Ian’s greatest achievement will forever remain the book series dearest to my heart: Fighting Fantasy. With unparalleled popularity among boys in the 1980s, the series sold more than 20 million copies before interest finally waned with the onset of the 1990s video game age. Wizard Books, and latterly Scholastic, have since rejuvenated Fighting Fantasy for the next generation. Scholastic, in a masterstroke, have extended the series under Rhianna Pratchett’s appropriate pedigree.
For those privileged enough to have stepped into the world of Fighting Fantasy, the impression will remain forever. Take, for example, the forebodingly atmospheric Deathtrap Dungeon, and the taste of victory when we finally emerged (scarred, traumatised, and gasping for air) from the Baron’s labyrinth. Some magic moments are simply unforgettable.
In 1998, Sir Ian helped Eidos Interactive translate his beloved Deathtrap Dungeon to a popular PlayStation game. This was later followed by numerous other FF titles, including an adaption of Talisman of Death for SONY PSP and PlayStation 3. As product acquisition director for SCi, Sir Ian secured a number of major video game franchises, including heavyweights Tomb Raider and Hitman, both of which remain fan favourites to this day.
With Games Workshop and Warhammer recording all-time high sales figures in 2021, and with numerous adaptations of Livingstone’s works in the pipeline, Sir Ian’s legacy is clearly far from complete. Hopefully the next time I chat with a Games Workshop representative or customer there will be recognition of Sir Ian and his contribution to the industry. But even if there isn’t, I will happily pay tribute to the man.
Article by Steve Ayers