James has been designing, publishing and writing about games since he was 14, when he started his first fanzine. In 1986 he set a new Guinness World Record for endurance play of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, with a time of 84 hours (three and a half days) played non-stop, as part of the Dragonaid charity team. It’s been superlatives from that point on.
He runs the games consultancy Spaaace, an agency that designs and advises on the build, implementation and marketing of traditional, digital and transmedia games and interactive campaigns. Clients include Warner Bros, Cadbury, Sony, Hasbro and Penguin Books. Spaaace specialises in interactive storytelling and creating collaborative narratives.
Games James has worked on include:
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Other Strangeness (Palladium, 1990-1)
- Once Upon a Time (Atlas/Trident, 1993/1996/2012), now with a quarter-million copies sold and available in ten languages, including a pirated Chinese edition.
- Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay (Hogshead, 1995-2002)
- SLA Industries (Hogshead, 1999-2002)
- The Extraordinary Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Hogshead 1998/Magnum Opus 2008/Pelgrane Press 2012), nominated for Origins Awards in Best New RPG and Best New Family/Party Game. (How is such a thing possible? If Baron Munchausen’s involved, anything is possible.) Also nominated for Best Writing in the 2009 ENnie Awards.
- Nobilis (Hogshead, 2000-2002), for which he won an Origins Award.
- Fabled Lands (Fabled Lands LLC, 2007)
- Flick Racer (Cadbury, 2010)
- Boardgame Repair Kit (Hide & Seek, 2010)
- Alas Vegas (Pelgrane Press, forthcoming)
- Waking the Dead (BBC/RandomMedia, 2005)
- Inside Justice (Endemol/Office of Criminal Justice Reform, 2006)
- Eye of Judgment (Sony/Hasbro, 2007)
- Pharmaville (Nitro, 2011)
- Hyperlife (Hypergame/Channel 4, 2011)
- Game Show (gameshow.co.uk, 2012)
- The Cube Game (American Express, 2001)
- We Tell Stories (Penguin Books/Six to Start, 2008)
- Violet’s Dream (Expanding Universe, 2009)
- Smokescreen (Six to Start/Channel 4, 2008-2011)
- Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows promo 1 (Warner Bros/Substance)
- Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows promo 2 (Warner Bros/Substance)
In addition James provided start-up consultancy to Mind Candy (Moshi Monsters, Perplex City), Mongoose Publishing (Runequest, Traveller, Paranoia) and other companies, and has worked on developing classic properties like Hasbro’s Monopoly and Risk, and Games Workshop’s Talisman, for which he created the world, character and story bible.
- Aliens Among Us (post-Werewolf remix, based on an unpublished design by the late Erick Wujcik)
- Cop Show (collaborative narrative)
- Flange & Grommit (‘tragedy of the commons’ trading game)
- People’s Revolutionary Committee (conference game)
- Rangoli/Framed (drawing game with Jenifer Toksvig)
- Soon To Be A Major Motion Picture (movie-making)
- Universal Exchange (trading/linguistics)
- Youdunnit (murder-mystery)
- Zombopoly (board-game)
James has been creating games with minimal rulesets since the late 90s. His business cards always have a complete game printed on the back (three of these are reproduced below). As an exercise in focus and distilling the essence of creative fun into as small a space as possible, it has given James’s work a reputation for conciseness and clarity.