It’s all about me
Omar H. Khudari
I discovered computers as a freshman at Stanford, where I wrote my first video game on Ernest Adams‘ Commodore Pet. I soon found myself staying up all night in the computer lab, sleeping during the day (which is when, for example, classes happen) and acting on stage in the evenings (Ram’s Head Theatrical Society at Stanford and Hasty Pudding Theatricals at Harvard). I ended up with an A.B. in Philosophy from Harvard, though I can’t quite remember how.
Luckily, after college, I landed a job at Tom Snyder Productions that paid me money to write educational computer games. At TSP, I was intrigued by Electronic Arts’ challenge, “can a computer make you cry?” In 1986, with the help of fellow TSP employee, David Kaemmer, I created my first storytelling game. The game was released with the stunningly catchy title, “The McGraw-Hill Mathematics Problem Solving Courseware.” Undaunted by the obvious marketing sabotage, we tried again with “Infocomics,” a game in which the player can watch a story from multiple points of view.
In 1987, Dave and I founded Papyrus Design Group. We agreed that I should be President, because I was greedier. This worked out well—I did my power trip, and Dave created hit auto-racing games that made lots of money. By 1995, Papyrus was getting a lot of attention, and the staff had been telling the press that I was the crazy janitor who thinks he is President. It was clearly time—so we sold the company to Sierra On-Line.
After Papyrus, I rode the boom and bust of the Internet as an angel investor. At the end of 1999, I complained to my friend, Ann-Marie Bland, of a wicked investing hangover. Ann-Marie suggested that I quit whining and start my own venture again. That was the impetus for founding Cecropia and reviving the old idea of a video game about characters in a story.
In 2008, Cecropia disappeared leaving a giant, smoking hole in the ground. After my singed eyebrows and eyelashes grew back, I decided to take Candide’s advice (il faut cultiver notre jardin). You can keep track of my progress at http://stevenormanton.com.