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Obituary: Jennell Jaquays, game designer, passed away at age 67

The late Jaquays' decades-long tenure in games includes the Quake series, Age of Empires, and Halo Wars.

Justin Carter

January 10, 2024

1 Min Read
Photo of the late game designer Jennell Jaquays.
Image taken via Jaquays' GoFundMe.

At a Glance

  • Jaquays was an award-winning designer and artist for the tabletop and video game industries whose work is still celebrated.

Veteran game designer Jennell Jaquays passed away earlier today at 67 years old. Her passing was confirmed by her wife Rebecca Heineman.

Born October 14, 1956, Jaquays worked on tabletop and video games. In the early part of her tabletop career, she designed Dungeons & Dragons' Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia modules.

Jaquays is perhaps best known for her cover of TTRPG's 1993 adventure, Dragon Mountain. She'd go on to be a freelance artist and designer for tabletop publishers like Chaosium and Game Designers Workshop.

Starting in 1980, she transitioned to video games by working at Coleco. During her time there, she developed and designed home arcade versions of Pac-Man and Donkey Kong.

In the '90s, she worked at id Software (Quake II and Quake III Arena, Ensemble Studios (Halo Wars and Age of Empires III), and Interplay (J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings: Vol. 1).

Since 2012, she's worked at RPG publisher Dragon Girl Studio and game studio Olde Sküül, which she co-founded with Heineman, Susan Manley, and Maurine Starkey.

In late 2023, Jacquays was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome. Donations meant for her care will now go to covering her medical bills, and can be given here.

Update: This post has been corrected to show that Jacquays was a designer for the Dark Tower and Caverns of Thracia modules.

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About the Author(s)

Justin Carter

Contributing Editor, GameDeveloper.com

A Kansas City, MO native, Justin Carter has written for numerous sites including IGN, Polygon, and SyFy Wire. In addition to Game Developer, his writing can be found at io9 over on Gizmodo. Don't ask him about how much gum he's had, because the answer will be more than he's willing to admit.

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