First posted on 16 July 2006. Last updated on 13 March 2008.
No adventure game designer had ever achieved the level of success as Roberta Heuer Williams (Roberta Williams) had. Born in 1953, she and her husband Ken Williams co-founded On-Line Systems, which later became Sierra On-Line, when she was only 26. Mystery House, which she wrote in 1979, was the first graphic adventure game ever created for the PC. Her portfolio of games, spanning over nearly 20…
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The Sierra Games have been with me for most of my childhood in the 80's and 90's. When Roberta stopped making them, I have stoped playing. In fact, like Roberta, I have not played a game since KQ 8. I guess I won't be playing again, unless she starts making games again.
Anyway, it's great to hear about her. It does not happen so often, so thanks for the interview, guys.
Great to be able to read an interview with one of the MOST influential and creative, people in gaming! If anyone deserves the time to spend with family and friends, it's you and Ken. From the earliest days of Sierra On-line, to the height of adventure gaming, you and your company have been there, turning out amazing games that kept me frustrated, laughing, angered, annoyed, elated, stumped, but most of all ENTERTAINED! Although a little harder to find now, I will openly challenge anyone to play through Phantasmagoria and not get creeped out, or Shivers and get stumped on at least one of the puzzles (while enjoying the amazing music, BTW)!
Thank YOU for all the years and amazing games that you've given us!
It's nice to hear from Roberta. In my teenage years, Roberta and the whole Sierra gang kept my ass out of trouble. I got 'hooked' on these Sierra adventure games back in the 80's as a teen. Sure, I played sports, and did well in school - but at the same time I was thinking about how to get through a 'this or that' puzzle while sitting in math class. I couldn't wait to get home to see if it worked! Miss you all at Sierra; 1st persons are out of style as they are all the same thing; Can't wait for Al Lowe's new game 'Sam Suede: Undercover Exposure' to hit the shelves in 2007. It's about time someone came out with an original action/comedy game! Hopefully, Al Lowe can manipulate Roberta to unretire as he did to himself!
It's nice to hear that Roberta is still there. It's been a very long time since I've heard of her.
I'm surprised nothing was mentioned about The Silver Lining, though...
The reason why Roberta was and still is a legend in gaming is not only the superior work she did in the genera of adventure gaming, but because she is the most publicised female programmer our generation. I thank her not for being a women in a man dominated profession, but because she showed me from an early age that there were women in the gaming industry and if I worked hard enough that I could achieve the same success in the computer industry. It was only in my twenties that people put doubt into my head that I couldn’t do it because of my gender. Simply Roberta was one of many people in my life that inspired to follow my dreams of working in the computer industry and her games helped sparked the excitement in what I do. So thank you Roberta for being yourself and producing quality work that inspired young minds.
"No adventure game designer had ever achieved the level of success as Roberta Heuer Williams (Roberta Williams) had"
Hmm.. okay. First of all Kings Quest sucked, and not just a little... it sucked a lot (of course that's an opinion, but one shared by many I'm sure).
Secondly, there can be no question that Richard Garriot, despite being somewhat of an eccentric asshole (I used to work for him, BTW) achieved far more success as an adventure game designer than Mrs. Williams.
Excellent interview guys! It's always nice to go down memory lane and remember the good 'ol times when Sierra still made adventure games, and I'm glad to hear they're enjoying life. Like so many others I just wish these guys would come back to revitalize the genre, as that's probably what it'd take.
I am one of the four guys that owned Dynamix when Sierra bought us out. Roberta and Ken are good folks. I'm glad that they are enjoying life.
It's good to hear from old friends :) and that's what I consider the William's and the whole Sierra On-Line staff...family/friends.
While it's true that I once beta tested for "those hippies in the hills" when I lived in Fresno (and KQI was in concept) my love for the gang that onced worked under the water tower, with the mountains of Yosemite as there backdrop, goes well beyond the "love of the games" that they produced.
I used to brag aboutthe Customer Service department, using their daily routine as a living example of how to CARE for a customer (and Sally, I'll never forget the personal tour you gave my son and I though the offices and warehouse :)--yeah, you know who you are)
While I also believe that the industry lost two of its greatest pioneers, I am very happy that "work" isn't then center of Ken and Roberta's lives. Enjoy life as long as you can, give thanks to the Creator for the ability to live life, and love all you come in contact with.
Blessings to you all!
Dave in the desert
I would have to consider this interview 'excellent', not only because Roberts doesn't give many interviews anymore, but also because of the terriffic incite she gave on Sierra.
It was good to hear that she still considers her accomplishments in computer game designing as one of her most treasured experiences ever. I was starting to think that she had forgotten her past, but this interview confirms that she stll recognizes what she has done for all of us. that fact that she admits that KQ 8 couldve been better puts me at ease.
All in all, great interview. I just wish I could look forward to playing her next game...