James Halliday - Oasis Visionary - Dead at 67
James Halliday, founder of Gregarious Games and creator of the OASIS, has died at the age of 67. Halliday was a game designer and tech visionary who made an unparalleled impact on the industries of gaming, entertainment, and technology; many might argue that Halliday, together with his former business partner Ogden Morrow, combined all of these industries into one.
By the time this obituary is published, the announcement of his death will have undoubtedly reached every living person with OASIS access... because James Halliday told them himself.
Sometime before his passing, Halliday had prepared a short video message, and instructed a few trusted Gregarious Games employees to release it the world media at the time of his death.
A copy of the video was also e-mailed to every single OASIS user this morning. In it, Halliday declared that his entire estate, including a controlling share of stock in Gregarious Games, was to be placed in escrow until such time as a single condition he set forth in his will has been met. The first individual to meet that condition will inherit his entire fortune, currently valued in excess of five hundred billion dollars. The condition is that some lucky OASIS user finds his “easter egg”, which is a slang term in the gaming community for a hidden object inside a game that gives special powers to whoever discovers it; fitting for the man who created the world’s most popular video game. Halliday’s announcement video, entitled “Anorak’s Invitation”, is suffused with obscure 80’s pop culture references that may have been lost on anyone below the age of 60, if Halliday hadn’t also saturated the OASIS with such deferential trivia.
Born and raised in Middletown, Ohio, Halliday was the son of a television salesman and a hairdresser. While at Middletown High School, he met Morrow and the two of them bonded over a love of films and video games. When Halliday first taught himself to program, he was unable to afford a floppy disk drive, and had to store his code on cassette tapes. Morrow and Halliday spent their days after school designing games in Morrow’s basement. Shortly after graduating high school, Morrow and Halliday decided to start their own videogame company. They marketed their first game, Anorak’s Quest, by placing ads in the back of computer magazines at their local store. Within six months, Anorak’s Quest became a national bestseller. In 1990, Gregarious Games moved into its first real office, located in a run-down strip mall in Columbus, Ohio. Over the next decade, the small company took the videogame industry by storm, releasing a series of bestselling action and adventure games, all using a groundbreaking first-person graphics engine created by Halliday. Gregarious Games set a new standard for immersive gaming, and every time they released a new title, it pushed the envelope of what seemed possible on the computer hardware available at the time.
An infamous eccentric, Halliday was loved by many but known by few. He was deeply private, spending the last fifteen years of his life in self-imposed isolation, during which time many speculated he had lost touch with reality. Morrow, his closest and only friend, parted ways Gregarious Games in 2034, after their creative differences drove them apart. Halliday died a bachelor, with no living relatives.