Author of '80s classic The Hobbit didn't know game was a hit

The Register meets gaming pioneer - now Big Data researcher - Veronika Megler

"I feel a bit sad"

While the messages of support are lovely, Megler says they also make her feel “a bit sad” because she had no idea the game was such a success.

“Only in the last five years have I realised what a hit it was,” she says. “It makes you wonder how my life would have been different had I known that.”

“One of the things I find still frustrating is that there is still an assumption that because I am a woman, Phil must have written most of the game and perhaps I just contributed to a few of the puzzles. I've also read things that leave my name off completely.”

Analysis of the game that attributes its success to Inglish also irritate just a little, as fans tell Megler that they didn't use much of the vocabulary it offered but did appreciate the ability to use different objects in imaginative ways that she into the game's engine.

Which is not to say that Megler is bitter, as she admits “I have a very low tolerance for doing the same thing over and over again.” By the time The Hobbit, (and Penetrator, the only other game she ever wrote) were complete, “I had been writing assemblers for years and I was tired of it.”

She was also tired of playing games and hardly touched another, bar Tetris, for 15 years.

Today she says The Hobbit has “Probably the most impact of anything I have done in my life until now.”

“It is odd to look back and think that from some perspectives the high point of my career came before I finished my bachelors degree! None of the my other jobs have had the same impact as writing that game did.”

But Megler is hopeful her PhD will top it, and is hard at work making that happen. On the day she was scheduled to chat to The Register, she was so immersed in debugging the project she was half an hour late for our call.

The interruption, and chance to reminisce, was welcome.

“Working on The Hobbit was a once in a lifetime gift,” she says.

The steady stream of emails thanking her for that gift surely show it's one that keeps on giving. ®

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