Harvey Smith - the decorated game designer who helped bring games such as System Shock, Deus Ex and, more recently, Dishonored to life - has written a novel based on his own life.

It's called Big Jack is Dead, and boy does Smith have some meaty real-life source material to draw on.

harvey
Harvey Smith.

"Jack Hickman is an antisocial software exec who designs team-building applications in the late 1990s. Controlled and calculating, his world begins to splinter when he learns - in the middle of a corporate meeting - that his father has committed suicide," reads the book's blurb on Amazon.

"Returning home to the Gulf Coast, Jack struggles with a host of unresolved feelings as he buries the man he hated most. Interwoven throughout the novel, chapters set in the 1970s depict Jack as a boy, chronicling his relationships with a storm-tossed mother and a menacing father, living in the shadows of the petrochemical plants scattered along the Gulf Coast.

"The novel highlights the differences between life in California at the end of the dotcom era and life in blue-collar Texas during the 1970s, contrasting Jack as a man and as a child, and showing how the people who bring us into the world shape us forever."

Havey Smith has talked about his turbulent life before, particularly during a wonderful and candid interview with Nathan Grayson from Rock, Paper, Shotgun. There he talked about his mother's fatal overdose, which happened when he was six-years-old, as well as his father's suicide.

Smith was in the Air Force for a number of years before he tried to make it in the video game industry. He targeted Origin and, for six months, tried to wedge his foot in the door. He played tabletop RPGs with the team, multiplayer games in their QA test lab - he even wangled himself a place on Origin's softball team.

Nothing beats joining Origin's sky-diving team and jumping out of a plane with Richard Garriott though. But still he couldn't get a job. Then fortune struck and a testing job popped up and Smith jumped on it.

The rest, as they say, is history.

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Robert Purchese

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is senior staff writer and Eurogamer's Poland-and-dragons correspondent. He's part of the furniture here, a friendly chair, and reports on all kinds of things, the stranger the better.

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