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Warren Spector (born October 2, 1955) is a role-playing game designer and a computer game designer. He is known for having worked to merge elements of role-playing games and first-person shooters. He currently resides in Austin, Texasmarker with his wife, fantasy writer Caroline L. Spector. He is best known for the cyberpunk FPS/RPG hybrid, Deus Ex (and its sequel, Deus Ex: Invisible War).

Early life

Spector grew up in Manhattanmarker, which he described as a sometimes hostile environment where “short, pudgy, Jewish kids didn’t fare well.” He showed an intense devotion to whatever topic became his obsession at any given time, from dinosaurs and airplanes as a small boy, to an interest in law by the sixth grade. At age 13, Spector had decided he wanted to be a film critic, and by high school, his obsessions expanded to include cars and basketball.


Spector attended Northwestern Universitymarker in Illinois, still intending to become a film critic, stating that he “knew more about movies than a lot of my teachers.” Spector earned his BSc in Communications at Northwestern, and went on to earn his MA in Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texasmarker in Austin in 1980.

All through college, Spector enjoyed gaming, and “played Avalon Hill games mainly, and a lot of OGRE and G.E.V. games, and Rivets from Metagaming. It was all boardgames until I became friends with science-fiction writers who were into D&D games, so I gave the game a try. I was hooked.” Spector taught several undergraduate classes at the University of Texas at Austinmarker, on the history, theory, and criticism of film.


In 1983, after a job at the Harry Ransom Centermarker as an archivist in charge of the David O. Selznick collection ended after a few months, Spector “was sitting around, wondering how I was going to pay the next month’s rent, when I got a call from Chris Frink. He was a writer for a weekly entertainment magazine I used to edit in college. Anyway, he said that he was now editor of Space Gamer magazine and asked if I wanted a job. So, in the fall of 1983, I started as an editor.” Within a short time, Spector became the editor-in-chief for all Steve Jackson Games products, the company that owned and published Space Gamer magazine. Spector began producing role-playing games for the company, stating, “I supervised game development, typesetting, and the art and graphic departments.” Most notably, he developed Toon with colleague and high school buddy Greg Costikyan. In March 1987 he was hired by TSR, initially working on games such as Top Secret/S.I. and the Marvel Super Heroes role-playing game. Spector spent some time in TSR's R&D department, helping launch, among other things, Spelljammer.

Subsequently he entered the computer game industry worked with Origin Systems and Looking Glass Studios. He worked on games including Ultima Underworld I and II, System Shock, and worked briefly on Dark Camelot, which later became Thief: The Dark Project. Later he founded Ion Storm Inc.'s Austin branch, which went on to develop Deus Ex, Deus Ex: Invisible War, and Thief: Deadly Shadows before being closed by owners Eidos Interactive in February 2005.

In 2004, Spector left Ion Storm to "pursue personal interests outside the company". In 2005, it was announced that he had established a new studio Junction Point Studios, where he is working on an unspecified game to be built with Valve's Source engine and released through Valve's Steam digital distribution system. A job advertisement for the studio called for artists for a game that has "classic Hollywood cartoons" featuring "cartoon mice, cats and wabbits". On July 13, 2007, it was announced that Disney Interactive had acquired Junction Point Studios. His first project with Disney Interactive is a project involving classic Disney characters, titled Epic Mickey. The game has been confirmed to be a Steampunk title and is being designed exclusively for the Wii. Spector has contributed a great deal to video game theory, and constantly promotes the importance of proper execution of ideas in video games.

Personal life

Warren met Caroline Chase in 1984 at a comic book store in Austin, Texasmarker, where she was employed. Caroline got a job at Steve Jackson Games shortly afterwards, and shortly after that, the two began a romance. Warren and Caroline were married on April 11, 1987. He and Caroline sometimes worked together, such as on game supplements for the Marvel Super Heroes role-playing game.

Cameo appearances

Ford Schick
Warren Spector appears in many of the games which he helped design. In Worlds of Ultima: The Savage Empire and Ultima: Worlds of Adventure 2: Martian Dreams he appears as the scientist Johann Schliemann Spector, known by the locals in Savage Empire by the alias Zipactriotl. In Ultima VII, Part Two: Serpent Isle he appears as the corrupt treasurer Spektor. In the first Ultima Underworld title, he appears as "an upset specter named Warren". In System Shock he voices one of the log files. In Deus Ex, the face of the character Ford Schick was modelled after him; in addition, "iamwarren" is one of the game's cheats (it causes electronic devices in the player's vicinity to malfunction spectacularly, a joke by the development team).


Video games

Spector in 2006

Spector is usually credited as a producer, except for Deus Ex on which he is also credited as project director.

Role-playing games


  • Double Agent: Royal Pain/The Hollow Earth Affair by Richard Merwin/Warren Spector ISBN 0-88038-551-0


  1. Warren Spector's Master Class Interview No. 8 with Tim Willits (University of Texas, October 29, 2007)

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