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Brian Reynolds c. 2010

Brian Reynolds (born 1967) is a well known computer strategy game designer, formerly of MicroProse and Firaxis Games. He works as chief game designer at Zynga and has been chairman of the International Game Developers Association. He has played a major part in designing a number of multi-million selling games including Civilization II, Rise of Nations, and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.

Early life[]

Reynolds made his first game sale with Quest 1 to SoftSide magazine, its August 1981 cover feature. He was a gamer in high school, and a SysOp on Randolph School's PDP-11 mainframe computer. A 1990 graduate of the University of the South, Reynolds briefly pursued graduate studies in Philosophy at the University of California, Berkeley. This influence is evident in the emphasis on philosophy encountered in one of his more famous computer games, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri.


Reynolds initiated his game career with the now defunct MicroProse where he worked as lead programmer for a number of graphic adventure games. These included Rex Nebular in 1992 and Return of the Phantom and Dragonsphere in 1993.

It was at Microprose where Reynolds first worked with Sid Meier and the two collaborated on a strategy title by the name of Sid Meier's Colonization which was released in 1994. Reynolds went on to become lead designer on his next title where he worked with Douglas Kaufman to create a sequel to Sid Meier's Civilization. Civilization II was released in 1996 and sold multi-million copies. This success gave Reynolds a great deal of credibility within the games industry and was the stepping stone to him becoming a founding partner in Firaxis Games.

Reynolds' first task at Firaxis Games was his contribution to Sid Meier's Gettysburg in 1997, followed by the creation and design of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri in 1998. Alpha Centauri was also popular, becoming his second multi-million selling title. In 2000 Reynolds left Firaxis games and sold his share in the company to become CEO of Big Huge Games.

On June 30, 2009, Zynga announced that Brian Reynolds was leaving Big Huge Games to lead the formation of Zynga East, and serve the role of Chief Game Designer.


Although marketed under Sid Meier's name, Civilization II, Sid Meier's Colonization and Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri all credited Reynolds first and foremost as lead designer. The credits for Civilization II and Alpha Centauri moreover imply that Meier had only advisory or peripheral participation. All these games, however, do clearly borrow from Meier's original Civilization.

Brian Reynolds' first major break was the design of Sid Meier's Civilization II. Meier had created Civilization but had moved on to other projects. MicroProse wanted to make a sequel and asked Reynolds to design it. MicroProse put Meier on retainer for consultational advice and for the use of his name, but Meier only had peripheral involvement in the design of this game. The sequel game, hence, was primarily designed by Reynolds and bore the subtitle "A Brian Reynolds Design" in the introductory graphics screen.

Reynolds' latest PC game is Rise of Legends, a real-time strategy game, published by Microsoft. Rise of Nations is Reynolds' first game under Big Huge Games.

Reynolds and Klaus Teuber collaborated to develop the Xbox Live Arcade game Catan.

Personal life[]

Reynolds met his wife, who at the time was an elementary school teacher in Greenwich, Connecticut, at a live action role-playing event in Washington, D.C. The two were married in August 1994 and due to Colonization being released in less than a month, had only a week long honeymoon. They have two sons, Robert and Caleb, and a greyhound, Trixie.

Charles Kibler, a game designer at BreakAway Games, is Reynolds' uncle.


  • FrontierVille (2010) (lead designer)
  • Age of Empires 3: The Asian Dynasties (2007) (creative director)
  • Catan (2007) (project lead and AI)
  • Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends (2006) (project lead and lead designer)
  • Rise of Nations: Thrones & Patriots (2004) (lead designer)
  • Rise of Nations (2003) (lead designer)
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri (1999) (lead designer)
  • Sid Meier's Gettysburg! (1997) (contributions)
  • Sid Meier's Civilization II (1996) (lead designer)
  • Sid Meier's Colonization (1994) (designer)
  • Dragonsphere (1992) (technical director)
  • Return of the Phantom (1993) (lead programmer)
  • Rex Nebular and the Cosmic Gender Bender (1992) (lead programmer)
  • Quest 1 (1981) (author)


External links[]

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