Jordan Weisman CEO of Harebrained Schemes
Prof. USC School of Cinema/Television
Jordan Weisman is currently an Adjunct Professor in the Interactive Media Division at the USC School of Cinema-Television. In 2012 he started to raise money, through Kickstarter, for Shadowrun Returns, a new video game adaptation of Shadowrun. His new company is Harebrained Schemes and they released their 3rd game Shadowrun Returns in July 25, 2013. Shortly after, on September 10, 2013, Jordan’s company launched a Kickstarter for its first tabletop game, Golem Arcana. After successfully funding, Golem Arcana released the following year on August 13, 2014. On January 13, 2015, Harebrained Schemes launched another Kickstarter campaign to partially fund development for their next Shadowrun game, Shadowrun: Hong Kong. ShadowRun Returns was in many top 10 lists for 2014 and several No 1’s for RPG’s that year. ShadowRun Hong Kong was in many top 10’s lists in 2015 and several No. 1 RPG’s for 2015. In 2015 HBS did a kickstarter for Battletech/MechWarrior another property created by Jordan Weisman. They raised just short of 3 million and the game is due in 2017.
In 1980, Weisman founded role playing game publisher FASA Corporation (short for the Freedonia Aeronautics & Space Administration, named after the fictional country in the Marx Brothers film Duck Soup) with partner L. Ross Babcock.:119 Weisman and Babcock printed up a few hundred copies of Weisman’s early adventures for the pen and paper role-playing game, Traveller, and sold them to a local Chicago store before sending them to nationwide distributors.:119 Although working out of Weisman’s basement, he and Babcock were looking for outside talent and brought William H. Keith, Jr. and his brother J. Andrew Keith into the company from GDW.:119 The company’s first professional publication was I.S.P.M.V Tethys (1980), a set of deckplans for a mercenary transport, drawn by Weisman and featuring three scenarios written by Andrew Keith.:119 In August 1981, FASA came to an agreement to publish the digest-sized magazine High Passage, on which Weisman and Babcock did the layout and editing.:119 Weisman wanted FASA to produce its own science-fiction roleplaying game, so he and Babcock secured the rights to produce their own 1983 Star Trek: The Role Playing Game.:120 FASA introduced a game about battling mechanoids called Combots (1983), by Weisman and Fawcett.:121 FASA later produced the successful BattleTech and Shadowrun franchises.
In 1987, Weisman and his father Morton Weisman founded Environmental Simulations Project — later renamed Virtual Worlds Entertainment —, the company that produced the BattleTech Centers.:122 Working with Incredible Technologies, VWE created the world’s first immersive networked location-based virtual reality gaming centers. VWE was a critical, though not a commercial success.As Weisman got more involved in VWE, Sam Lewis became FASA’s president.:122
In 1995, Weisman founded FASA Interactive with Denny Thorley and Morton Weisman to personally take over the development and production of the hit MechWarrior PC games; FASA Corporation (the RPG company) provided FASA Interactive with a license for its properties in return for stock.:125 The franchise is one of the top-selling PCgames of all time, with sales of over 9 million units worldwide.
On January 7, 1999, Microsoft acquired Virtual World Entertainment Group and FASA Interactive; VWE was sold off to some of its developers, while FASA Interactive became Microsoft’s FASA Studio.:126 Babcock and Weisman went over to Microsoft, with Weisman becoming the Creative Director of Microsoft games from 1999-2002.:126 While working at Microsoft, Weisman and his unit created a new genre of interactive entertainment called alternative reality games, and developed the alternate reality game “The Beast“, to promote the Steven Spielberg film A.I.
Weisman had been working on a design for a computer game called Corsairs!, set in an alternate universe United States, and he convinced FASA Corporation to develop the board game Crimson Skies (1998) to enhance the value of the property.:126
In 2000, he founded WizKids, with his new idea for miniatures games involving the “clix” miniature figure that contained a dial to depict the miniature’s stats.:126 WizKids produced the games Mage Knight, HeroClix, and Pirates of the Spanish Main. WizKids grew rapidly and went from start-up to over $30M in annual sales in just two years. The company focused on miniature figure games that are easy to learn for younger players. Weisman sold WizKids to Topps in 2003.:128
In 2003 he founded 42 Entertainment, a design company in the new field of the alternate reality game or ARG’s.:128 42 has created multiple ARG’s, including, “I Love Bees“,to promote the Xbox game Halo 2, and “Year Zero” to promote the Nine Inch Nails album of the same name.
In 2006, his Cathy’s Book, a novel with interactive elements co-written by Sean Stewart and illustrated by Cathy Brigg appeared from Running Press. The book was a best seller in Germany and sold over 100,000 copies in the USA.