Joel Billings

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Joel Billings is an American video game designer. He is the founder of the game company SSI.[1] He was also the company's president.[2]


Joel Billings approached Avalon Hill to publish a computer game called Computer Bismarck, and when they turned him down he decided to found his own company to publish the game.[3] Billings started SSI in 1979 just after finishing college, with a $1000 initial investment. The first product was Computer Bismarck, which he co-wrote. Designed for the TRS-80 and Apple II home computers, it is viewed as the first computer war game ever published. It sold 7000 copies, considered reasonably successful for its time.[2][4] The company was an industry leader for years in war games and role-playing video games.

In 1987 Billings acquired the rights to the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing games from TSR,[citation needed] which led to the creation of the Gold Box D&D game series, one of the best selling video game franchises of the 1980s and 1990s.

After a year of losses tied to delays in the new Dark Sun game engine, Billings sold the company to Mindscape in 1994.[citation needed]

In 2001 Billings started a game development company called 2 By 3 Games with former SSI game programmers Gary Grigsby and Keith Brors.[citation needed]

In December 2013, Billings donated several SSI video games, such as Computer Bismarck, including the source code for preservation to the ICHEG.[5][6]


  1. ^ Jones, Stephen (March 30, 1987). "A Video Game Comeback?", San Jose Business Journal 4 (49): 7.
  2. ^ a b Seiken, Jeff (July 05, 1990). "Computer War Games Test Strategic Skills", Philadelphia Inquirer.
  3. ^ Shannon Appelcline (2011). Designers & Dragons. Mongoose Publishing. p. 176. ISBN 978-1-907702-58-7.
  4. ^ Seiken, Jeff (October 6, 1990). "War simulations let you take charge", Austin American Statesman, p. 22.
  5. ^ Nutt, Christian (2013-12-16). "Strategic Simulations, Inc. founder donates company collection to ICHEG". Gamasutra. Retrieved 2013-12-22.
  6. ^ Dyson, Jon-Paul C. (2013-12-16). "The Strategic Simulations, Inc. Collection". ICHEG. Archived from the original on 2013-12-24. Retrieved 2013-12-22.

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