We talk a lot about the innovations and strides being made in technology, but sometimes the great leaps forward we’ve made in gaming, especially in the last few decades, can be overlooked. If you’re an avid gamer – or at least know some of its history – you’ve most likely heard of all these men who made it possible for you to enjoy games like Call of Duty or Grand Theft Auto V, but you may not have heard of the women behind those men.
Between the Atari console from the 1980s and today’s Xbox One console, we enjoyed a small window of time when we were able to use our PCs to play video games. During this time, one woman helped pioneer games with complex puzzles and detailed storylines like King’s Quest, which had eight sequels. Using a mix of entertainment and education, Roberta Williams made learning something to look forward to.
Roberta Williams: Gaming Goddess
In the 1970s and 1980s, Roberta Williams began her career by developing games for some of the pioneering companies like the original IBM PCjr, the Tandy 1000, the Amiga, the Apple II and the Sega Master System, and many more. After spending years developing games for others, Williams decided to branch out and begin working for herself.
Along with he husband, Ken Williams, Roberta co-founded Sierra On-Line (later known as Sierra Entertainment) and began working on games that were also found to be as educational as they were entertaining. The couple created the “quest” feature that we still see in many video games, such as fighter games, in which the fighter must battle his way through a series of bouts and achievements to seal his victory.
Gamification is also such a huge fad thanks in part to the Williams’. Their games taught logic and problem-solving skills, but turned the process into an adventure. Using the same concept, gamification transforms everyday tasks into a quest to collect rewards.
“My definition of an adventure game is really an interactive story set with puzzles and obstacles to solve and worlds to explore. I believe that the ‘true’ adventure game genre will never die any more than any type of storytelling would ever die.”
Where is Roberta Now?
After a few decades in gaming development, Roberta decided to get out of the industry altogether. Since then she hasn’t really been seen or heard from within the gaming world, but did grant Adventure Classic Gaming an interview in 2006. She used the medium to discuss her own career, how she came to love developing, and the importance of using technology for educational purposes.
“The experience of creating my adventure games was, other than marrying my husband and bringing into the world my two sons, the most fulfilling, wonderful experience I could ever have had,” she told the publication.