From ZX Spectrum to PS4, UK industry pays tribute to late programmer John Gibson

Estimated read time 5 min read

John Gibson’s debut in programming dates back to the year of grace 1983, at Imagine Software, a short-lived studio based in Liverpool which will have time to release a few games on ZX Spectrum such as Molar Maul, Zoom, Stonkers (but not the famous Bandersnatch which never saw the light of day and will inspire the screenwriters of black-mirror much later). When Imagine Software went bankrupt in 1984, John Gibson helped found Denton Designs and continued to release ZX Spectrum games, including Gift from the Gods (1984), Frankie Goes to Hollywood (1985) and Cosmic Wartoad (1985).

In the 90s, it was at Psygnosis that we found John Gibson programming games like Microcosm, a shoot’em up which in 1993 explores the possibilities offered by this new medium, the CD-ROM, in terms of cinematography. It was also in 2013 that Sony Computer Entertainment acquired Psygnosis in preparation for the launch of the PlayStation. Without having really known 8 or 16-bit machines, John Gibson then discovered console programming with sentient (1997, PlayStation).

His career then led him to the young studio Warthog Games, where he mainly programmed for licensed games such as Star Trek: Invasion (2000, PlayStation), Tiny Toon Adventures: Wacky Stackers (2001, Game Boy Advance) and The Looney Tunes take action (2003, Game Boy Advance). New change of studio in 2003, year during which John Gibson joined Evolution Studios without knowing that the latter would be bought by Sony Computer Entertainment a few years later in 2007 (then closed in 2016).

Installed for good, John Gibson logically specializes in the programming of racing games. After some WRCit enters the PS3 (and PS Vita) generation with MotorStorm (2007), MotorStorm Pacific Rift (2008), MotorStorm Apocalypse (2011) and MotorStorm RC (2012). He will also get his hands dirty with the PS4 by being credited among the programmers of drive club (2014) which remains his last known contribution.

John “Granddad” Gibson’s career has been documented by several sites dedicated to video game history, including Antstream Arcade, Remcap, retrogamesmaster without forgetting this report from the BBC in 1983.

It is with sadness that I learn of the passing of John Gibson, British programming pioneer. He had an incredible career working early on at Imagine and Denton Designs, then at Psygnosis and Sony Europe. Its games span decades, from Zzoom to Drive Club. An outstanding contribution to the world of gaming says veteran journalist Jaz Rignall.

I am saddened to learn of John Gibson’s passing. John was one of the pioneers of the UK video game industry. RIP “Grandad” “, is moved the programmer Kevin Edwards.

I just heard the terrible news of the death of legendary game developer John Gibson. From his early days at Imagine Software, through Denton Designs, Psygnosis, Warthog and Evolution Studios, John has been a mainstay in the gaming industry for 40 years. RIP “Grandad” adds collector Mark Howlett.

I just heard the devastating news of the departure of my former colleague and former member of the original Imagine team, John Gibson. A true legend of game development. I am absolutely devastated “says the developer Paul Hughes

When I woke up, I learned that my former co-worker, bassist, friend and creator of some of the very first computer games, John Gibson, had passed away. I’ll never forget your glee telling a producer to fuck off, when you rightly left the office on time… RIP Gibbo “recalls another developer.

Photo credits: Graeme Mason for
Photo credits: Graeme Mason for

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