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The story of Games Workshop and Fighting Fantasy

Good choice.

Imagine getting a phone call from a guy called Gary Gygax in America and he's reading a newsletter you wrote for a games business you're running out of a messy flat in London, and he likes it so much he wants to send you a copy of a new game he's working on called Dungeons & Dragons.

You end up loving the game and he likes what you're about, so he grants you exclusive rights to introduce Dungeons & Dragons to the UK, and to Europe, and to sell it there for three years. You can only afford six copies but it doesn't matter: you'll soon be able to afford a lot more.

That's not even the best story my guests have! They've done so much and created so much. That games business they were running? It was only Games Workshop, wasn't it - a business that would change the face of tabletop gaming. But, not content with running only that, this pair would work well into their nights to create a series of game books called Fighting Fantasy, making themselves best-selling authors in the process. The series has sold more than 20 million copies today.

And that's not all: from there, they'd go on to sign video games like Tomb Raider and Hitman, and create studios like Lionhead and make beloved series like Fable. They'd receive awards and knighthoods - even be tasked by the government to evaluate the games industry to see where it could do better.

Without Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, my guests today, games simply wouldn't be the same. But it's about Fighting Fantasy in particular we talk today, on this, the series' 40th anniversary - an occasion for which they've both written new books. It's startling to hear how originally, the series didn't sell well at all, and to hear how they actually put the complicated things together in the first place. They tell me their favourite books, their favourite deaths in those books, and everything in between.

Episode 21 of One-to-one, featuring Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, is now live on all major podcast platforms. Look for Eurogamer Podcasts there to find it. Alternatively, here are some handy links:

One quick note about this episode: there were some technical difficulties with the recording platform that meant Steve had trouble joining us, though he did get there eventually, and that resulted in some odd audio glitches later on. There's nothing I can do about them I'm afraid, but apologies all the same.

See you next time!

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About the Author

Robert Purchese avatar

Robert Purchese

Senior Staff Writer

Bertie is a long-time writer and now podcaster for Eurogamer. He loves telling a story and listening to them. @Clert

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