May 23, 2024
Game designer Laralyn McWilliams passes away

Laralyn McWilliams, a pioneering and influential game designer, has passed away.

McWilliams was creative director on games such as Free Realms, and for her work she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Game Developers Choice Awards at the GDC summer event in July 2021, during the pandemic.

She had been making games for 30 years, and she was a cancer survivor. Among the other games she worked on were Full Spectrum Warrior, Over the Hedge, and Sid Meier’s Pirates!.

Free Realms was a massively multiplayer virtual world for teens and ‘tweens and it was a free-to-play game. Sony Online said at the time she was “instrumental in building awareness, visibility, and interest.”

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McWilliams was a lead designer, producer or game director for games for Disney and DreamWorks. She also was lead designer for Full Spectrum Warrior at Pandemic Studios, and she worked with director John Singleton and Snoop Dogg on the canceled game Fear & Respect.

She is credited on 15 games on, including most recently System Shock in 2023, The Walking Dead: Saints & Sinners in 2020, Hero-U: Rogue to Redemption in 2018, Archangel in 2017, and Gears of War 4 in 2016.

McWilliams had a public battle with cancer and had beaten in back for a time. Many fellow game developers mourned her passing on social media. Rest in peace.

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