Randall Steward Pitchford II
Pitchford's father worked within the United States intelligence system, creating high-technology equipment for other agents. When Randy was five years old, his father brought home one of the computers he had developed in 1975, and later gave Randy his own computer, built by himself, when Randy was seven. Pitchford quickly grasped the BASIC programming language to try to emulate arcade games of the time. He wrote his first game (a 16-room text adventure) when he was about 11 or 12 on the machine. Pitchford stated that he played Colossal Cave Adventure and was so enamored by the game that he used a hex editor to examine the code and partially figured out some of the programming concepts behind it. When a BASIC version of the game was released, he was able to review the source code directly, allowing him to determine how to construct his own text adventures, leading him into game development.
Pitchford was also interested in magic, as he was the great-nephew of Richard Valentine Pitchford, a magician known by his stage name Cardini. Richard had died when Randy was only two years old, but the stories of Richard's magic performances told by his widow inspired Randy to pursue magic as well.
After high school, Pitchford went to University of California, Los Angeles, to get a law degree. During this, he met and dated Kristi, who would later become his wife. Kristi saw that Pitchford did not seem thrilled with law and encouraged him to pursue some career in entertainment, whether through videos or magic. While he then proceeded to do video games on the side, he continued to perform as a professional magician in Hollywood to help pay for school. He further succeeded in gaining membership into The Magic Castle in Los Angeles.
Near the completion of his coursework, Pitchford began sending out resumes for job offers for video game programming. He accepted an offer from 3D Realms in Texas, at the time known as Apogee and who had just released Wolfenstein 3D, a game that had excited Pitchford. He stated that part of the incentive for joining 3D Realms was that he would receive a share of the profits for the games he worked on. Titles that Pitchford worked on include Duke Nukem 3D and Shadow Warrior.
A group of 3D Realms developers and programmers left the company to form Rebel Boat Rocker around 1997, and Pitchford left 3D Realms to join them by May 1997. The company's first game was to be the first-person shooter Prax War to be published by Electronic Arts (EA). Pitchford served as the lead level designer as well as the public relations head. However, EA opted to cancel the game around January 1999. With no publisher-backed project, Pitchford joined four other Rebel Boat Rockers, some his former 3D Realms colleagues, to found Gearbox Software in February 1999. The name was selected to compare their team to an efficient and well-balanced transmission gearbox.
In 2013, Pitchford pledged US$25,000 to Penn Jillette and Adam Rifkin's crowdfunded film Director's Cut. In return for pledging, Pitchford received an executive producer credit, as well as Jillette's ponytail. In March 2018, Pitchford announced he had joined the advisory board for Fig, a mixed investor/crowdfunding service for video game development.
In 2018, former Gearbox lawyer Wade Callender filed a lawsuit against Pitchford alleging that Pitchford had misused company funds to pay for a home loan, tuition, and other personal expenses. The lawsuit also alleged that Pitchford had left a USB drive containing sensitive Gearbox information and underage pornography at a restaurant in 2014; Pitchford later corroborated that the drive had contained pornography, but denied that it was underage, instead claiming it was "barely legal".
Pitchford's innocence has been supported by Gearbox and the company will file a grievance with the State Bar of Texas against Callender for "filing a lawsuit that includes accusations that he knows to be untrue". Callender later provided documents that he claimed backed up his position. An August 2019 filing further alleged Pitchford and his employers of contempt.
On October 3, 2019, both sides announced that the lawsuit had been dropped. A joint statement by the parties stated "Upon review of all the evidence in the case, it was of the opinion of counsel that the evidence exonerated Randy Pitchford from the allegations against him; all misunderstandings between the parties have been corrected, and apologies were exchanged."
Pitchford has a son, Randall Steward Pitchford III, who was born on January 8, 2000.
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