Allan Calhamer died at the age of 81 on Monday at a hospital in the same western Chicago suburbs where he grew up.
Calhamer was most famous for creating the game “Diplomacy” while he was a student at Harvard University in the 1950s. The game’s commercial release was in 1959.
The inventor’s game earned a loyal grouping of fans in the US, as well as elsewhere in the world.
Calhamer tested early versions of his game out on his Harvard classmates before he perfected it. Avalon Hill purchased the rights shortly after the commercial release and helped move the game worldwide. The game was re-released in 1999 and is still for sale today.
His inspiration for the game came from a professor he had at Harvard. The professor taught a class in 19th-century Europe and also wrote a book called Origins of War.
The Chicago Sun-Times notes that the game of Diplomacy adds in shifting alliances, deception, and backstabbing. It was set in pre-World War I Europe. Calhamer spoke about the game in an article he wrote for a Diplomacy fan website. He stated that the game can “make some people almost euphoric and causes others to shake like a leaf.”
Allan Calhamer’s invention wasn’t just a fan favorite, however. Industry analysts believe that the game also influenced generations of game designers. The game even has its own convention, nicknamed “DipCon.” Mike Webb, vice president of marketing and data services for Alliance Game Distributors, stated of Calhamer:
“In many ways, the hobby game industry as we know it owes its existence to Allan Calhamer. [Diplomacy] moved away from pure strategy games like chess and from straightforward die rolls for conflict resolution, and introduced bluffing, lying and manipulation.”
Allan Calhamer is survived by his wife and two daughters. There was no word on his cause of death.