The video game world has always had creative figures who loomed large and were beloved for their contributions to the medium. However, one trailblazing code master whose work continues to resonate that doesn’t get his due is legendary video game software designer Tom Clancy.
Though he was unable to receive the prominent billing he’d later grow accustomed to, Clancy’s first game was 1991’s The Hunt for Red October, a deep sea combat game that he made for both the Nintendo Entertainment System and the Game Boy. The acclaim for that game led Clancy to gain prominence as a visionary young voice in game design, who then founded his own studio, Tom Clancy Video Game Studio. The game reportedly so moved Sean Connery that he financed a cinematic adaptation of the game.
TCVGS’ first blockbuster release was 1999’s Rainbow Six. Its combination of tactics, shooting, and plot focusing on a counter-terrorism unit of soldiers felt like they were ripped right out of a spy novel, and the game proved to be a wild success, spawning a franchise that continues to this day.
In addition to the wildly popular Rainbow Six franchise, Clancy designed several other smash hit series, including Ghost Recon, Splinter Cell, and The Division, each of which enjoy their own franchise and dedicated fanbases. Until Player Unknown’s identity is revealed, Tom Clancy’s name is the most important one when discussing shooters in the 21st century.
Though Clancy tragically passed away in 2013, the treasure trove of notes and ideas he left behind ensure that his philosophies and ideas concerning video game design will continue to be made available to gamers for the foreseeable future. So far several posthumous games have been able to be assembled in this manner, most recently 2019’s Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint.
Though not typically mentioned in the same breaths as the other heavyweights of the medium, Tom Clancy’s influential body of work and commitment to excellence across over 40 releases deserves to cement his name alongside the truly immortal game designers, next to names like Shigeryu Moyamato, Sid Maier, and John Madden.
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