Friday, June 18, 2021
HomeGamingObituary: John Wilson, founder of legendary text adventure publisher Zenobi Software

Obituary: John Wilson, founder of legendary text adventure publisher Zenobi Software

I only had a brief period of correspondence with John Wilson aka “The Rochdale Balrog”, but when I found out about his passing at the age of 74 last week, I felt a sadness I wasn’t quite expecting. John’s contribution to the UK video game scene shouldn’t be underestimated and losing him is akin to the loss of a national treasure. It’s a true end of an era.

Despite whatever images his monstrous nickname might conjure in your mind, the outpouring of love for John on his twitter feed shows that he
was an incredibly kind human being whose constant generosity meant he was nothing like the flaming beast from Tolkien’s story. Whenever I spoke to him, he always happy to share an anecdote about his adventures during the heyday of the UK’s burgeoning gaming scene. In other interviews he seemed incredibly modest and almost unaware or unable to accept exactly how much of an impact his work had made on the industry.

I first got in touch with John a couple of years ago, while I was doing research for my old video series Games You Never Knew Existed and he was more than happy to answer my questions, even going so far as to send me copies of the game I was asking about and sharing scans of the instruction leaflets that accompanied the game. It was through these emails that I got caught up in the magic of John’s world and his treasure trove of text adventure memorabilia.

Read more

I only had a brief period of correspondence with John Wilson aka “The Rochdale Balrog”, but when I found out about his passing at the age of 74 last week, I felt a sadness I wasn’t quite expecting. John’s contribution to the UK video game scene shouldn’t be underestimated and losing him is akin to the loss of a national treasure. It’s a true end of an era.

Despite whatever images his monstrous nickname might conjure in your mind, the outpouring of love for John on his twitter feed shows that he
was an incredibly kind human being whose constant generosity meant he was nothing like the flaming beast from Tolkien’s story. Whenever I spoke to him, he always happy to share an anecdote about his adventures during the heyday of the UK’s burgeoning gaming scene. In other interviews he seemed incredibly modest and almost unaware or unable to accept exactly how much of an impact his work had made on the industry.

I first got in touch with John a couple of years ago, while I was doing research for my old video series Games You Never Knew Existed and he was more than happy to answer my questions, even going so far as to send me copies of the game I was asking about and sharing scans of the instruction leaflets that accompanied the game. It was through these emails that I got caught up in the magic of John’s world and his treasure trove of text adventure memorabilia.

Read more

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