Our favorite games are often synonymous with our favorite game designers. But not everyone jumped into the turbulent waters of game creation right away. We rounded up three of our favorite “before they were famous” stories of some of the gaming industry’s biggest names.

Sid Meier

Any Civ player worth their salt knows that one of the most important parts of the game is the economy. How cash gets into the system and how much you’re spending can spell victory or defeat for your burgeoning civilization. The game’s founder knows this subject intimately, because before he was the most famous apostrophied moniker in gaming, Sid Meier worked to network cash register systems for retailers. Even though he got this gig right out of college, he was a game designer at heart. While working there, he made an unlicensed Star Trek game for his colleagues to play, with sound effects and all. They really took to it and as Sid says in this New Yorker interview, “small beeps ricocheted through the halls as a sort of work-abandonment klaxon of shame.”

Wizards of the Coast

Magic man with that magic smile!

Amy Hennig

Amy Hennig is a decorated member of the Writer’s Guild of America who has won a bunch of awards for her work on the Uncharted series. She’s also known for her work on Jak and Dexter. She’s a writer of rare talent that resonates with critics and fans alike, but she got her start in a totally different section of the industry: art. Hennig wanted to get into film originally, but after film school, she paid the bills with doing freelance art for a game on a little system known as the Atari. Hennig realized that her passion for storytelling could have free range in the world of video games, and the rest is history.  

Mark Rosewater

Mark Rosewater is the head designer for the ultimate nerd hobby. No, it’s not collecting Japanese body pillows, we’re talking about Magic: The Gathering. MaRo as he’s known in the MTG community, wasn’t always the leading man for a game about wizards, he was one himself. Mark Rosewater in his youth worked as a freelance magician, which is hilariously apropos. But his other past career is somehow still very fitting. MaRo is famous for his sense of humor, which served him well as a writer on the 90’s sitcom Roseanne.

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