Christopher Weaver

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Christopher Weaver
Alma mater Wesleyan University
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Occupation software and technology innovator, entrepreneur
Known for founder of Bethesda Softworks and ZeniMax Media

Christopher S. Weaver is an American entrepreneur, software developer, scientist, author, and educator.[1] He is known for founding of Bethesda Softworks, where he was one of the creators and Executive Producer of the original The Elder Scrolls role-playing series.[2][3]

Weaver and Bethesda are credited with developing of the first real-time physics engine for sports simulation, used in Bethesda's Gridiron! videogame.[4] Weaver also developed game screen captioning for the deaf and made it available as open source software.[5]

Weaver was the CEO of Bethesda Softworks from 1986 to 1999. In 1999 Weaver co-founded ZeniMax Media to expand the company's development of multimedia platform products beyond videogames. He was the initial CTO of ZeniMax.[6] In 2002 he ended his operational role there after a dispute, but remained a major shareholder.

Weaver speaks and teaches about interactive media and game development. He was interviewed in the 2012 book Gamers at Work,[3] and was the subject of a Mashable That Was Me episode about changing the videogame industry.[7] As of 2016 he is a visiting researcher at MIT and a professor of computational media at Wesleyan University.

Early life and education

During high school, Weaver worked at a microbiology laboratory and entered the New York Science Fair, winning first prize. He went on to win numerous other science awards on the national level.

After returning from Japan on a student exchange program, he got a dual degree (CAS) from Wesleyan University with specialty in Japanese and Physics. He later earned graduate and post-graduate degrees in Computer Science and Japanese Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan, and a graduate degree in Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.[1]

He was a former associate of the Architecture Machine Group and Fellow of the MIT Research Program on Communications Policy, and was appointed a Fellow of the Robotics Simulation Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon in 1995.[2]

Weaver is currently a Research Scientist in the Comparative Media Studies program at MIT.[8] He is also a Fellow of the Futures of Entertainment Consortium,[9] a Board Member of the Communications Technology Roadmap Group and Visiting Scientist in the MIT Microphotonics Center[10] and a member of the MIT Communications Forum.[11]


In college, Weaver helped redesign the campus radio and television, studios and modified Link Trainers to better simulate situational spatial awareness. This experience resulted in his creating AeroTechnology Enterprises specializing in analog training simulators for aviation.[3]

Weaver moved to New York where for post-graduate work at Columbia University and got a night job as an Assistant Director of News at NBC. He was then hired by the American Broadcasting Company, where he established the first office of Technology Forecasting for the network. He then became the Vice-President for Science and Technology at the National Cable Television Association (NCTA), followed by an appointment as Chief Engineer to the Congressional Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.[3]

Weaver later started Videomagic Laboratories, a company working in vehicular simulators for military and entertainment purposes.[3] He temporarily moved to Los Angeles to work on the Universal Studios lot in Burbank, working on new camera technology with Panavision for interactive media. During this time, Weaver contributed to early work in graphical interfaces, optical storage and computer-assisted editing, including encoding spatial information for tracking camera shots.[3]

In the 1980s, Weaver was introduced to video games when he was asked by one of his engineers to look at a football game idea he was developing – Weaver felt it "was boring". His fix was a physics engine, bounded by football rules. They decided to produce the game, resulting in the formation of Bethesda Softworks. The game was released as Gridiron! for the Atari ST and Commodore 64/128, in 1986.[3] Bethesda later found widespread success as a game developer with its Elder Scrolls series of games.

In 1999, Weaver cofounded ZeniMax Media with Robert A. Altman, as a new parent company for Bethesda. Weaver contributing his stake in Bethesda to ZeniMax,[3] and served as CTO until 2002, then was pushed out. He filed a lawsuit against ZeniMax, claiming he was ousted by his new business partners and was owed severance when ZeniMax didn't renew his employment contract.[12] They filed counterclaims saying he had gone through emails of other employees to make his case.[13][14] In the end, the case was resolved out of court. Although still the largest shareholder as of 2007, Weaver no longer had any day-to-day responsibilities with ZeniMax.[15]


Weaver teaches computational media in the College of Integrative Sciences at Wesleyan University.[16] He also teaches in the Comparative Media Studies and Engineering departments at MIT,[17] where he is a Fellow of the Futures of Entertainment Consortium and a Visiting Scientist in the Microphotonics Center.[3] His lectures are part of online courses on MIT edX and MIT OpenCourseWare.[18] In 2016, he was the Director of Interactive Simulation for the AIM Photonics Academy.[19]

He has acted as technical advisor for the White House, the Office of Technology Policy, and the Department of Homeland Security. Weaver was also a technical advisor to Independence Day, where the character David Levinson was reportedly based on him.[3][20]

In 2016, he was appointed a Distinguished Research Scholar by the Smithsonian Institution[21] and installed as the first Project Director of their newly created Videogame Pioneers Archive.[22]


Weaver has been published in science and technology journals and periodicals, including IEEE Spectrum, Techline, Edge Magazine, SCTE Journal, NCTA Bulletin, ITU Standards, Video Magazine, and Next Generation Magazine. He has written on subjects ranging from microprocessors to copyright law.[23][24] He is also a co-writer/creator of the science-fiction series The Tenth Planet published by Ballantine Books[25] and was the technical editor and contributor for Fundamentals of Game Design.[26]

Personal life

Weaver is a volunteer air ambulance pilot for AngelFlight[27] and holds numerous FAA licenses and type certificates. He is married to Nanci Weaver.


  1. ^ a b "MIT Comparative Media Studies: Visiting Scholars and Postdocs". Archived from the original on July 18, 2012. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b "Christopher Weaver". MobyGames. Retrieved January 12, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Ramsay, Morgan (2012). Gamers at work : stories behind the games people play. [New York]: Apress. ISBN 9781430233510. 
  4. ^ "Games and Their MIT Makers". MIT Technology Review. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  5. ^ Ramsay, Morgan (2012). Gamers at Work:Stories Behind the Games People Play. New York: Apress. ISBN 978-1-4302-3351-0. 
  6. ^ Ramsay, Morgan (2012). Gamers at Work. New York: Apress. p. 281. ISBN 978-1-4302-3351-0. 
  7. ^ Robertson, Matt. "How One Man's Vision Changed the Video Game Industry". Mashable. Retrieved March 13, 2017. 
  8. ^ "People, Comparative Media Studies". Comparative Media Studies. MIT. Retrieved April 19, 2015. 
  9. ^ Futures of Entertainment: People. Retrieved on April 25, 2013.
  10. ^ Microphotonics Center Visiting Scientists. Retrieved on April 25, 2013.
  11. ^ Jenkins, Henry (2006). Convergence Culture. New York: New York University Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-4281-5. 
  12. ^ "Christopher Weaver vs ZeniMax Media" (PDF). Retrieved July 26, 2016. 
  13. ^ "Weaver v. ZeniMax Media". Justia Law. Retrieved March 13, 2017. 
  14. ^ "Christopher S. WEAVER v. ZENIMAX MEDIA, INC. -". Archived from the original on 2017-03-13. Retrieved March 13, 2017. 
  15. ^ "Bethesda: The Right Direction". The Escapist. Retrieved March 13, 2017. 
  16. ^ "Video Game Entrepreneur Returns to Teach Design Course". Wesleyan Argus. Wesleyan University. Retrieved March 22, 2016. 
  17. ^ "CMS People". Comparative Media Studies. MIT. Retrieved April 19, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Media Industries and Systems". MIT Open Courseware. Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 
  19. ^
  20. ^ Starzynski, Bob (August 19, 1996). "Erol's sees C&W deal as ticket to business market". Washington Business Journal. Retrieved July 17, 2016. 
  21. ^ "Smithsonian Institution". 
  22. ^ "Smithsonian Institution". 
  23. ^ "Microphotonics:Hardware for the Information Age". Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
  24. ^ [1]. Retrieved on March 31, 2015.
  25. ^ [2]. Retrieved on March 31, 2015.
  26. ^ Adams, Ernest (2010). Fundamentals of Game Design. Berkeley: New Riders. ISBN 0-321-64337-2. 
  27. ^ "Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance". AngelFlight. Retrieved April 1, 2015. 
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