Maureen Hiron has passed away at age 80.
Hiron started designing games in 1982 when the idea for Continuo came to her "in about two seconds", as she told Deej Johnson in a 2019 interview in Mojo Nation:Quote:I invented the thing in about two seconds. It just came to me. I spent the next two hours cutting up cornflake packets and making the squares, filling them in with colours. My husband and I formed a company the next day. Continuo went into shops on September 1st; six weeks later it was the UK's bestselling game. By Christmas, we'd sold 205,000 sets in the UK — today, it's in over fifty countries; it's now sold six million sets, which ain't bad. That includes its offspring. It's not quite so popular at the moment; it just seems to have slid downstairs at the moment. Don't worry, it'll come back; in fact so much so that I've just licensed two games to South Korea — and those two are Continuo and Duo.I'll note that Continuo has only 968 owners listed in the BGG database, and fewer than 200 owners for Continuo spin-off titles Hexago Continuo, Rhombo Continuo, and Triangulo Continuo, which represent at most .019% of copies sold.
I think it's fair to say, though, that the average BGG user was not Hiron's customer. She designed games for the larger world of gamers, with rules that could be explained in less than a minute, and she was highly successful in that regard.
Over her career, Hiron published more than sixty games, but prior to her game design career, she was a world-class bridge player, with the English Bridge Union noting its obituary for her that she "was on the winning England team in both the 1974 and 1975 Lady Milne Trophy and represented Great Britain in the European Championships of 1974". Maureen had married Alan Hiron, another world-class bridge player, in 1983, and after he passed in 1999, Maureen Hiron took over as bridge correspondent for "The Independent" and "The Irish Independent", writing six articles a week.
In 2021, Hiron was inducted into The Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts & Design Hall of Fame along with Uwe Rosenberg and Bruno Cathala, and she posted this video of her life and career:
In an obituary for Hiron, designer Tony Boydell describes Hiron as "undeniably, an outstanding — if eccentric — force within the Industry; exasperating (the conversation was usually pretty one-sided) and admirable in equal measure." For several years at SPIEL, BGG would close its livestream by having Hiron on as a guest, and as Boydell notes, the livestream pretty much became the Maureen Hiron spotlight hour at that point, which I found endearing because she knew exactly who she was and what she wanted and she had great stories to tell, such as her musical collaborations with Sheyla Bonnick of Boney M.
Here are videos of her appearances at SPIEL '15 and SPIEL '18, which I believe was the last time we got to host her:
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