If you’ve played enough Playstation or Xbox, you’ve most likely noticed the name Tom Clancy plastered across the cover of at least one of the video games in your collection. It’s always printed in the same Ghost Clan Regular font against the same white highlight streaked across the top of the box art, and always next to the same silver silhouette of a soldier with his rifle drawn. For a generation of gamers, Tom Clancy’s name has become synonymous with Ubisoft military shooters, but who exactly was he?
Tom Clancy was an American novelist, best known for his technically detailed espionage thrillers set during and after the Cold War. Launched into popularity after the publication of his debut novel The Hunt of Red October, he quickly became one of the most phenomenally successful authors in his time, selling over one hundred million copies of his books during his career.
But how did he enter the world of gaming? The first video game based on one of Tom Clancy’s works was released in 1987 – a submarine simulator for PC that was adapted from his debut novel The Hunt for Red October. It heralded the start of an extremely long lineage of Tom Clancy games that would extend far beyond the author’s untimely death.
Following the release of another submarine sim – Red Storm Rising, based on the novel of the same name – Tom Clancy co-founded the game developers Red Storm Entertainment along with Royal Navy captain Doug Littlejohns and game producer Steve Reid. In the year 2000 the company was bought by Ubisoft, and in the year 2008, in an unexpected move, so was his name, meaning he would be not only forfeiting any say about how his name was to be used, but also any royalty payments he would receive from future releases.
Thus began Mr. Clancy’s phantom influence on the gaming industry. While he may not have had influence on any of the recent releases in the Tom Clancy’s franchise, it’s his books that Ubisoft has been adapting, birthing some of the most tactical shooters in gaming.