Paul McLaughlin, ‘Fable’ art director, passes aged 57

The veteran creator worked on 'Dungeon Keeper', 'Black & White', and 'The Movies' over a three-decade career

The games industry has been paying tribute to veteran artist Paul McLaughlin, who died in December 2021 after a battle with cancer.

McLaughlin’s video game career spanned over 30 years and saw him working on series including Populous and Dungeon Keeper. For 15 years, he was studio art director at Lionhead Studios, working on titles such as Fable and Black and White. Most recently, McLaughlin was head of art at Godus developer 22cans.

News of McLaughlin’s death was broken by Eurogamer and met with tributes from his co-workers over the decades.

Peter Molyneux, co-founder of 22cans and Lionhead, spoke of his long partnership with McLaughlin, recalling how he was the fourth employee at Bullfrog and “the first proper games artist I had ever encountered.”

“Immediately he became invaluable, an essential part of the many titles we all worked on,” Molyneux continued. “He absolutely made all the difference on Powermonger, Syndicate, Magic Carpet, Theme Park and Dungeon Keeper.”

When Lionhead was set up, McLaughlin “not only guided Black & White, The Movies and Fable but also helped direct the company,” Molyneux added, calling the late artist “a great artist, a wonderful mentor and an inspirational man.”

“Paul was a huge cornerstone in my life. He was a professional, moral and funny person who had the ability to see the fair and sensible approach in any situation. I miss him every day in every way. His legacy will be felt and seen for a long, long time,” Molyneux concluded.

Fable (Credit: Microsoft)

McLaughlin was also well known around the Guildford creative scene, a hub of game development in the UK.

“Paul McLaughlin is simply why I have a career in the UK games industry,” said Kareem Ettouney, co-founder and art director at Media Molecule. “He gave me and many others our first shot and opportunity, and he had a tendency to look at lots of diamonds in the rough talents that have no proven track record but he saw something in us and gave us that first break into the industry.”

“Ask anyone who ever crossed paths with Paul McLaughlin, and they will always say the same things. You will hear words such as straight-forward, kind, an inspiration, great guy, talented and the nicest kind of person you hope to work with”, said Jemma Harris, executive producer at Sumo Digital. “The fact that the words are the same is a testament to the genuine, rare, and consistent person that he was. His straightforward and no-nonsense approach was a constant refreshment in the ever growing and noisy workplace. His ability to talk sense, keep calm and help those around him by remaining approachable was a lesson that no leadership book could teach.”

Paul McLaughlin is survived by his wife and three children.

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