Game Designer Bios
(“Battle of the Bulge”, “RAF”) is a professional designer with long-standing ties to the game industry. His first published release was with SPI in 1978, and in the over thirty years since he has published with Victory Games, West End Games, and Decision Games. John won the 2009 Charles S. Roberts Awards for Best WWII Board Game and Design Elegance, both for his game “D-Day at Omaha Beach”, and is a member of the Board Game Design Hall of Fame. Other notable designs include “RAF”, “Hell’s Highway”, “Voyage of the B.S.M. Pandora”, and “Ambush!” (with Eric Lee Smith). John is widely recognized as one of the premier designers of solitaire games working in the industry today.
When not working on games John also designs museum exhibits and digital experiences for web and mobile. His clients include The American Museum of Natural History, the Children’s Museum of Houston, and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
(“Waterloo”) has been a game designer for over twenty years, working for a number of clients including Decision Games, Hexagon Interactive, Law Enforcement Crisis Management, and the Department of Defense. He currently works with Modern Conflicts Studies Group on modern era simulations. Joe has designed some 200 published wargames, including “Tet Offensive”, “Xenophon”, “Waterloo-20″, “Battle for Baghdad” and “Winged Horse: Campaigns in Vietnam”¸ as well as the “Cyberwar XXI” joint operational warfare simulation for the USAF. He is a six-time winner of the Charles S. Roberts Award for excellence in wargame design, and in 2001 was inducted into the Hall of Fame. Since 1991 he has also edited Strategy & Tactics magazine, one of the foremost publications in the wargaming hobby.
Joe is presently a full-time game designer and magazine editor based in California.
(“Soviet Dawn”) is a game designer and attorney residing in Northern California. In 2008 he pioneered a popular solitaire system with “Israeli Independence”, creating a simple yet deep set of rules that allowed games to be designed around many situations previously considered ‘ungamable’. There are currently 9 solitaire games on the market using the system he created, including “Soviet Dawn”. Darin’s first gaming experience was Victory Games’ “The Civil War”, designed by Shenandoahs CEO Eric Lee Smith, so this collaboration has been in the cards for a while.
In his spare time when not gaming or designing Darin enjoys history, travel, reading, and indoctrinating his three sons into the hobby.
Eric Lee Smith
(Drive on Moscow) is a name that is almost synonymous with the term ‘wargaming’. Born in the era of Avalon Hill, he has been playing wargames since he was 12 and subsequently went on to design them. The first game he designed, 1918: Storm in the West was published in 1991 Command Magazine. Two years later, he designed the game When Eagles Fight, which would earn Raicer his first Charles S. Roberts Award. Other games he designed that also won the CSR Award for Best Pre-World War Two Game include The Great War in Europe (1995), All Quiet on the Western Front (1997) and Paths of Glory (1999). Raicer was also the winner for the James F. Dunnigan Award for Playability and Design in 1995 and 1999. Naturally, he became recognized as one of the most prominent designers in the field of WWI games.
As an avid reader of history in general, it is not surprising that Raicer eventually moved into designing WWII games. The first of such a kind was in 2002, the year WWII: Barbarossa to Berlin was released. WWII: Barbarossa to Berlin won the CSR Award for Best World War Two Game, bringing Raicer his 7th CSR Award to add to his accolades.
Apart from designing more than two dozen games since he first started in 1991, Raicer wrote his own book Crowns in the Gutter: The Strategies of the First World War, which was published in 2009.
Mark got his start in gaming at Simulations Publications Inc. (SPI). It all started at the first Origins Game Fair in 1975. Mark asked folks at the SPI booth how he could become a game designer. They recommended he attend the weekly playtest sessions, which he did, and the rest is history. He designed 20 games during his time at SPI. He mentions his time at SPI as being very formative, learning from Jim Dunnigan and others.
His next move in gaming was to Victory Games. He acted as CEO of the company, not just designing but also covering production, sales, and advertising. As you can see in the photo above, he worked with John Butterfield and Eric Lee Smith during these years. While handling the business side of things, Mark was also able to design more than 10 games while at Victory Games.
From here, Mark moved into a career at Booz Allen Hamilton. This isn’t that surprising because, as a strategy game designer, he developed keen insights into military strategy and tactics. Throughout his career, Mark continued to design games. Some of his most well known designs include We the People, For the People, Washington’s War, and Empire of the Sun. Of course, he has also been hard at work on Desert Fox.