Jaquays, Jennell

Jaquays, Jennell

September 13, 2018 Off By Lloyd Metcalf

Jennell Jaquays professional life has centered around game making for over 40 years. She pioneered pre-made RPG scenarios in her Dungeons & Dragons fanzine The Dungeoneer in 1976 and is STILL known for her Judges Guild D&D adventures Dark Tower, Caverns of Thracia, and Book of Treasure Maps, while Runequest fans know her for Griffin Mountain and Duck Tower. Traveller players remember her for illustrations of Warships in Fighting Ships (Traveller Supplement 9). One of her small sketches also graces the pages of the first issue of Dragon magazine.

She assembled one of the first in-house video game art and design studios at Coleco to make ColecoVision games, hiring several former TSR designers to be a part of her staff. All the non-educational video and computer games produced by Coleco were designed or developed by her team.

After Coleco, she worked independently as an illustrator and game content designer, and then joined TSR as a cover artist and briefly as director of graphics in the early 90s. As the line artist for Mystara, Dragon Dice (both covers and dice icon), and for a short time, AD&D, she added to the vast wealth of TSR’s art legacy.

She departed TSR and table top gaming in early 1997 just ahead of the Wizards of the Coast acquisition to return to computer games, first as a designer for id Software on the Quake 2 and Quake 3 first person shooter titles, and later as an artist for Age of Empires III and Halo Wars at Microsoft/Ensemble Studios, and then as the level design lead on CCP’s vampire MMO based on White Wolf’s World of Darkness.

She is considered one of the founders of The SMU Guildhall in Dallas, a leading master’s degree level video game development school within Southern Methodist University. She was instrumental in both establishing the structure and focus of the program and designing the first art curriculum for it. Her son was an early graduate of Guildhall and works as a senior level artist in the digital game industry.

Jennell is a 2017 inductee into the Adventure Gaming Hall of Fame and currently divides her creative energy between illustration and game adventure design projects for design studio Dragongirl Studios, her Fifth Wall brand of game adventures and miniatures, and serving as the creative director for Olde Sküül, Inc. a digital game developer and publisher based in California’s Bay Area, which she founded with three other veteran female developers in 2012.