You may remember from a couple of weeks back that Jez San (not Sans, as somehow appeared), owner and operator of the Argonaut empire, copped an OBE in the New Years Honours. Fantastic, wasn't it?
But while nobody could deny that it was a well-deserved bit of tin, the question of how he came to the attention of an establishment not noted for its awareness of technology remained unanswered. Until now. The Diary can exclusively reveal how to win gongs and influence people.
Back in March last year, the then-minister for e-commerce, Patricia Hewitt was giving a keynote speech to games software developers at a conference for same. She said that as the videogames industry was commercially more important to the UK as the film industry, and there were so many similarities, it could be argued that it should get the same sort of tax breaks. Much agreement from the floor. She then asked for questions, and the final one came from one Richard Bartle. He asked, only semi-facetiously, how long would we have to wait for the first OBE for games software? After all, actors and directors can barely move for the weight of letters after their name.
Much laughter from everyone, but our Pat took him seriously. She talked to him afterwards, and emails were subsequently exchanged. A couple of names got mentioned, including Jez, and there things rested.
Richard Bartle, as has been mentioned, invented the world's first multiplayer online game -- Essex MUD -- on which Jez spent far too much of his teenage years, so it just goes to show what can happen when you fritter away your youth being a nerd and running up enormous phone bills. At least I got that bit right...
Oh, and sources tell me Richard also asked why Tim Berners-Lee OBE, FRS, DFE, DU, DSc, DLaw, etc, hadn't been knighted yet. This remains a bloody good question.