Meet the people who make the games!
In 1987, Leonard Balsera failed a saving throw while reading Flight from the Dark, the first gamebook in Joe Dever's Lone Wolf series, and thus fell completely under its spell.
Twenty-five years later and counting, the spell has not worn off.
He's not complaining.
Over a decade ago, I joined the Network branch of the Consipiracy under the guise of Illuminati Online and began my foray into helpdesks, network administration, and [REDACTED]. Since then, I've been through the back rooms and data centers of businesses, telecom companies, and even a major computer manufacturer (where the iDomination initiative is going quite well). I've since returned to the home office to patch myself into the heart of the Network once again.
In my free time, I enjoy a pretty wide range of gaming interests. I enjoy roleplaying games, from the periodic pen-and-paper game, to the online MMO, City of Heroes / Villains. I'm also a fan of any number of board games, non-collectible card games, and lightweight miniatures games.
Eric's gaming addiction started back in 1982, with his first pocket box edition of Ogre. From there, it was all downhill. Car Wars, Star Fleet Battles, anything with the Avalon Hill name on it, Dungeons and Dragons . . . well, you get the idea. Later, he discovered that cars could be used for more than just dueling in arenas, and even set a long distance driving record.
When not in the office, Eric can be found playing in his Friendly Local Game Store, or under the hood of a friend's car trying to fix something that may or may not be broken.
Alex like to draw pictures. Alex no like word things.
Alex like lizards and monkeys. Some of Alex art here.
Andrew's first experience with roleplaying games was taking a first-level magic-user into the Caves of Chaos armed only with a dagger and a detect magic spell. This experience taught him valuable lessons about resource allocation, spell selection, and rolling up new characters. Since then, he has learned a lot, making him ideally suited to oversee the continuing growth of the Munchkin juggernaut. In his previous lives, Andrew has been a project manager, the managing editor for a major game publisher, a frustrated graduate student, and a high-school teacher, where he learned more about munchkinry from his students than in any activity before or since.
Andrew's non-gaming interests include watching movies at the Alamo Drafthouse, watching TV at the Alamo Drafthouse, and watching his paychecks disappear at the Alamo Drafthouse. In his free time, Andrew wants to eat your brains.
Nobody quite knows whether "Rev. Bob" is a twisted individual because he reads strange books, or if he reads the off-kilter stuff because he's weird. Either way, it was inevitable that his love of SF, comic/urban fantasy, horror, gaming, and High Weirdness would eventually bring him into contact with SJ Games. He was recruited into the Men In Black in late 2005, after two existing MIBs found him wandering the halls of a convention with a tote bag stuffed with card games. He was subsequently given more and more responsibilities, until the only thing left was to hire him . . . and yet, he keeps coming back for more.
He now maintains the SJ Games website from the darkness of his secluded hilltop cave, from which mad cackling is sometimes heard in the dead of night. If you encounter him at a convention (or on Twitter), do not ask him for reading recommendations, unless you have a total disregard for your own sanity. He is also a high-level pun warrior, as well as a practicing Pastafarian and SubGenius. His latest strange habit is to tweet snarky commentary while watching movies on DVD or Blu-ray, using the dedicated @BobTitles account. He tries not to be spoilery about it.
He also claims to have invented Chanukwanzmasticivus, the all-inclusive holiday that lasts all December long. As yet, he has been unable to either fit the name on a greeting card or persuade the federal government to recognize it.
Steve Jackson founded the company in 1980, so it's all his fault. Blame him.
Steve has also designed way too many games, including Ogre, Car Wars, Illuminati, GURPS, and Munchkin. He wants to do some more. Thus, gaming no longer counts as a hobby, though it's still a Favorite Thing. His actual hobbies include Lego, pirates, tropical fish, rolling ball machines, and gardening. He really wishes he could still find the time for beekeeping, model railroading, and keeping up with videogames . . . and in his weaker moments he misses the SCA. If only we could do something about this sleep thing . . .
He is a carnivore, specializing in sashimi. Mmm, sashimi. A few years ago, he broke a 30-year 3-liter-a-day Coke addiction. Now it's two cups of coffee a day. This is better, honest. He drinks sissy drinks and Kahlua. He reads science fiction and fantasy. Did we mention that he games?
You can find his personal website here.
Ross Jepson started in the games industry in 1979 working part time at the Sentry Box, a retail store, and then TD Imports Inc., a Canadian hobby distributor, in Calgary, Alberta. In 1981, he took over operations of TD Imports and ran it full time until he sold it in May of 1999 and went to work for Steve Jackson Games as Director of Sales. Today, Ross is both the Director of Sales for Steve Jackson Games as well as the Director of Hobby Sales for PSI. In his spare time, Ross enjoys cycling, backpacking, historical miniatures gaming, board wargaming, and the study of military history.
Alex was born and raised in Austin. He enjoys being outdoors just as much as he loves creating new webpages.
Alex has many interests that include card games, roleplaying, board games, welding, design, and hops and grains. He prefers strategy games but is very open minded and will play almost anything. Currently his obsessions are Top Gear, Charles and Ray Eames, and Ascension the card game.
Jason Levine, better known to most as "Reverend Pee Kitty", has been a gamer for most of his life and a die-hard GURPS fan since the release of Third Edition. He lives GURPS, loves GURPS, and even maintains a GURPS fan-site at www.mygurps.com . . . guess what Steve Jackson Games product he works on?
In his spare, non-gaming time, he enjoys making music, collecting Transformers, reading comics, and generally refusing to grow up.
Steven Marsh has been a gamer since he was 13, when his newly generated Dungeons & Dragons magic-user – creatively named Zappo Zam – happened to roll all 18s during character creation.
Although his blatant cheating tapered off once puberty kicked in, Steven's love of gaming continued until he went to college at Florida State University. While there, he worked at a comic and game shop, resulting in a truly frightening collection of comics and games. His break in the creative aspect of gaming came in 1997, when a letter he wrote to Shadis Magazine detailing his theoretical "perfect" issue was turned into the "Special Steven Marsh Issue." He wrote a couple of articles for Shadis, and in 2000 he joined the Steve Jackson Games family as the editor of Pyramid Magazine. Since then, he's done work for Green Ronin Publishing, West End Games, Grey Ghost Games, White Wolf Publishing, and others. In 2008 he took over as e23 Manager for Steve Jackson Games, where he parlayed the skills he honed during his Pyramid years into a full-time job.
In between editing Pyramid, managing e23, and writing and editing for freelance gigs as his fancy is struck, he has an unhealthy fascination with Doctor Who, portable video games, and tinkering with computers. He lives just outside Indianapolis with his wife and their son. He sporadically posts to his blog at waitingforgo.livejournal.com. He rarely sleeps.
Brandon vividly recalls playing his first RPG campaign at age 8 with a group of his mother's university friends who often encouraged him to try silly things: quickly leading him to play an ear-less elf after picking a fight with an entire tavern of dwarves. He still remembers repeatedly bugging his uncle to teach him how to play Car Wars. This love of table-top games led to a fascination with miniature collecting and painting in middle school that paralleled his growing interest in computer programming and video games. His current interests also include artificial intelligence programming, circuit bending, making collages, creating music with electronic synthesizers, wandering around Austin and doodling with his website: electricdragonstudios.com.
Sam dove headfirst into gaming at a young age, starting with marathon Axis & Allies and Fortress America sessions, to his current Pitchcar and Puzzle Strike obsessions. He's held just about any job you can think of – computer repair, undercover security, food service, textbook editing – until he finally jumped at an opportunity to work for Steve Jackson Games. As Production Manager and Art Director, Sam guides every game through the production process, all while wrangling three stubborn and supremely-talented production artists. Oh, and he's doing package design, too. He dreams of once again getting a full night's sleep.
Sean "Dr. Kromm" Punch set out to become a particle physicist in 1985, ended up the GURPS Line Editor in 1995, and has engineered rules for almost every GURPS product since. During the GURPS Third Edition era, he compiled both GURPS Compendium volumes, developed GURPS Lite, wrote GURPS Wizards and GURPS Undead, and edited or revised dozens of other titles. With David Pulver, he produced the GURPS Basic Set, Fourth Edition, in 2004. His latest creations include GURPS Powers (with Phil Masters), GURPS Martial Arts (with Peter Dell'Orto), and the GURPS Action, GURPS Dungeon Fantasy, and GURPS Power-Ups series.
Sean has been a gamer since 1979. His non-gaming interests include cinema, cooking, and wine. He lives in Montréal, Québec with his wife, Bonnie. They're owned by two cats, Banshee and Zephyra. As befits a professional in the RPG business, Sean mixes his work and personal life without a second thought on his LiveJournal.
Philip Reed is constantly smashing his face against deadlines, which wouldn't be such a terrible thing if deadlines weren't quite so sharp and painful. With credits throughout the game industry as an author, artist, layout monkey, editor, publisher, designer, and playtester, Philip definitely sunk more points into skills than common sense. Philip writes about toys at his blog and annoys as many people as possible through Twitter.
Gabby is a dork. He accepted a position with Steve Jackson Games after realizing he will never achieve his dream of becoming Bruce Campbell's personal assistant / masseur. He enjoys board games and video games, comics and cartoons and all things Bruce Campbell . . . even Man with the Screaming Brain . . . which is awful.
Randy is a wanderer. He made his way into the office one day, and hasn't managed to fully escape yet. He believes in keeping his friends close, his beer cold, and his enemies subdued beneath his oppressive boot. In the end he is a nomadic practitioner of the "wine, women, and song" mentality. By wine he means beer, by song he means games, and by women he means WOMEN!!!
Randy's gaming interests are varied. A game of Catan is as welcome as an 18 hour Descent marathon, followed by a giant game of Werewolves.
Monica Stephens has worked for SJ Games in every department and at many positions, and has been here longer than anyone but Steve. If you want to hear about hand assembly of games in ziplock bags, or phototypesetting on a Compugraphic system for wax pasteup, or creating a Car Wars-themed van in three days to display at a trade show in Dallas, ask Monica.
Monica enjoys games, but she's spent more time getting games to press than actually playing. She likes playtests, though, and has edited several games. She developed the card game Spooks. She is currently the Assistant Managing Editor and the final gatekeeper of editing and graphic quality for our releases.
She likes nature, water gardening, sudoku, science, science fiction, and SF cons, and would like to spend more time with her sweetie and friends. It is a challenge to get a good candid photo of Monica.
Nikola Vrtis has been the production artist and indexer for most of the GURPS products published since 2008, as well as helping as an editor and writer. She began her career in the gaming industry at West End Games, where she was the co-designer of the Men in Black Roleplaying Game, co-designer and co-editor of the DC Universe Roleplaying Game and its supplements, and designer and editor of several D6 System books.
Nikki currently resides just outside of Indianapolis, Indiana, with her husband (Steven "Steven" Marsh) and their son, who's been creating new games since he was four.
Taken by a local hillbilly, scientists now believe this blurry image may be the only existing photograph of Ben Williams, the newest production assistant at SJ Games. Though reports are hazy and often contradictory, many suggest this bizarre creature is an avid tabletop miniature gamer and painter. Recent eyewitness accounts indicate that he has lately abandoned Warmachine and Hordes, in favor of the newer Monsterpocalypse. Another individual reported seeing him purchase one of the new Alkemy starters as well. Recent evidence supports earlier hypotheses that his natural habitat is in central Texas in the Austin area.
I've been involved with the gaming business since 1973, when a group of friends and I founded Game Designers' Workshop. When GDW closed down 22 years later, I free-lanced for a while, worked a series of part-time dayjobs, and then moved to Illuminati world HQ in Austin, Texas to work for SJ Games. I am a founder of the Evil Geniuses for a Better Tomorrow, a member of the Academy of Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame, and winner of the Origins Award.
Elisabeth was one of the first of the SJG Illuminati in 1980, editing magazine articles, playtesting some of the first games, producing game components, and doing a myriad of other tasks around the office. She took a "leave of absence" for a while, but came to her senses in 2009 and returned with a multitude of new skills under her belt. She handles the preparation and management of contracts and licenses for our writers, artists, game designers, publishers, and anyone else we can think of.
In her spare time she plays more games, runs a Neverwinter Nights persistent world, hangs out in the SCA, and is in the last stages of raising a family. The "helping to raise grandchildren" stage is starting.