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Obituary: Zenobi Software founder and text adventure legend John Wilson

John Wilson, the founder of renowned text adventure game publisher Zenobi Software, has passed away.

Chris Kerr, News Editor

June 9, 2021

1 Min Read

John Wilson, the founder of renowned text adventure game publisher Zenobi Software, has passed away. A family member shared the news on social media, prompting an outpouring of tributes from those who knew Wilson. 

Also known as the 'Rochdale Balrog' because of his ties to the Greater Manchester town, Wilson turned Zenobi into a full-time venture in 1986 to help produce and publish adventure games for a range of systems including the ZX Spectrum and the Atari ST. 

In more recent years, Wilson kept the Zenobi brand alive by bringing its back-catalog forward in time using 'Spectrum emulation.' He also released a brand new adventure game for the ZX Spectrum called Ramsbottom Smith and The Quest For The Yellow Spheroid, paving the way for a string of new releases under the 'Pension Productions' banner.

Through Zenobi, Wilson helped birth over 200 titles across multiple decades including Caverns, The Secret of Little Hodcome, Bulbo and the Lizard King, Behind Closed Doors, Alien Research Center, The Balrog and the Cat and many, many more.

About the Author(s)

Chris Kerr

News Editor, GameDeveloper.com

Game Developer news editor Chris Kerr is an award-winning journalist and reporter with over a decade of experience in the game industry. His byline has appeared in notable print and digital publications including Edge, Stuff, Wireframe, International Business Times, and PocketGamer.biz. Throughout his career, Chris has covered major industry events including GDC, PAX Australia, Gamescom, Paris Games Week, and Develop Brighton. He has featured on the judging panel at The Develop Star Awards on multiple occasions and appeared on BBC Radio 5 Live to discuss breaking news.

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