Mike Singleton

Today, most of the world leant that the games writer Mike Singleton died last week, in Switzerland where he lived, aged 61.

Singleton was the author of some of the most impressively expansive and far-sighted games of 80s: The Lords of Midnight and Midwinter.  His career carried on to the current generation of hardware: even when game teams became a hundred strong, he was sought after as a consultant.

There have been plenty of tributes, and from broader base than only the gaming cogniscenti.  Even Louise Mensch, of all people, has cited him as ‘life-changing’.  But the most moving, I found, came from his friend, and colleague, Christopher Jon Wild, who used the language of The Lords of Midnight to almost painfully evocative effect.  By Singleton’s admission, his games were Tolkeinesque, and The Lords of Midnight included a scene-setting fantasy novella that he had written.  Yesterday, Wild posted an extract from the book, headed with the quote ‘This parting has come too soon’.  It was put up without explanation; now sadly clear.

Like many games designers, Singleton as somewhat anonymous – even with as famous a name as his, he was known through the prism of his work, as a gamers found their way around his worlds.  So like most of his fans, I know this: he was a brilliant coder, and a superb games designer.  His games – uncannily large, broadly narrative proto-RPGs – may yet transpire to be amongst the most influential of the medium.  And they will certainly be remembered, fondly and in awe, as some of the finest of their era.