‘Darlings’ of UK games honoured

Two of the pioneers of the UK video games industry have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

David and Richard Darling, co-founders of game developers Codemasters, were both made Commanders of the Order of the British Empire (CBE).

They built up their company from a bedroom enterprise into one of the best known games developers in the world.

The firm is behind well established titles including the Colin McRae Rally series and Sensible Soccer.

More recently the firm has ventured into online games, releasing Lord of the Rings Online.

“For over 20 years David and Richard led Codemasters as it became one of the video game industry’s great British success stories,” said Rod Cousens, present head of Codemasters.

“Their drive and passion for creating the best in interactive entertainment will always be part of the industry’s heritage and this recognition is well deserved.”

The brothers sold their stake in the company in 2007 after 21 years at the firm.

‘Brilliant games’

The two brothers started their first company – Galactic Software – in 1982, followed by a stint writing for Mastertronic, a publisher of low-cost computer software.

In 1986 they set up Codemasters, along with their father Jim. Their first title was BMX simulator, released in the company’s founding year.

There followed a series of simulator titles including jet ski, flight and even fruit machine games.

Many of these were written for the computer of the moment – the ZX spectrum – although they also produced titles for the BBC Micro, Acorn Electron and Amstrad CPC.

The brothers were famous for putting ringing endorsements of their games on the packaging.

“Dizzy’s Treasure Island is brilliant – it’s like a real cartoon but with amazing gameplay,” read one.

These were usually quotes from the creators of the game or the Darling brothers themselves. The Treasure Island quote was by David Darling, for example.

Practices like this drew equal measures of mirth and criticism from the games press of the time.

But the company gained even greater notoriety when it developed a series of unlicensed games for Nintendo’s Entertainment System.

The titles, published by controversial company Camerica, bypassed the console’s so-called “lock-out chip”, designed to prevent unofficial products being played.

Titles included the Quattro Series, Ultimate Stuntman and the best-selling Micro Machines.

The company has continued to grow and now produces games for all three major consoles, PCs, handheld devices and mobile phones.

In 2005 the company was crowned the world’s leading independently owned video games developer by Develop Magazine.

The brothers left two years later to work on other projects.

They were honoured for their “services to the computer games industry”.

Source : BBC News

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