In addition to Ms. Carter and their son, Mr. Altman’s survivors include a daughter, Jessica Carter Altman, a singer and lawyer; and two sisters, Susan and Nancy Altman.
After abandoning banking and the law, Mr. Altman incorporated ZeniMax, based in Rockville, Md., in 1999, and then partnered with a software developer, Christopher Weaver, of Bethesda Softworks, until they had a falling-out.
As Bethesda’s parent company, ZeniMax gobbled up other brands. When concern was expressed about violent video games, he packed the company’s advisory board with political luminaries, including Robert Trump, the former president’s younger brother, and Terry McAuliffe, the former Democratic national chairman.
For a man whose whole professional life had been about one-upmanship, Mr. Altman’s successful shift in careers might not have been as precipitous as it appeared. James Altman quoted ZeniMax’s general counsel, Grif Lesher, as saying that his father was so confident of his own creativity that he wouldn’t hesitate to rewrite Shakespeare because he insisted “it can be improved.”
Devoting nearly a decade to defending himself drained Mr. Altman of further ambitions in banking, corporate law or capital power politics.
“Until it is your picture on the front page of The Washington Post, until charges are being leveled at you and lots of false accusations are being made, it’s very hard to appreciate what it is like,” he said in a television interview with Charlie Rose in 1993.
No wonder that when he switched careers, one of the video games his company developed, Fallout 3, invited players on a 23rd-century adventure in the ruins of post-cataclysmic Washington. His favorite, though, his son said, was The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrm, which offers players the opportunity to “live another life, in another world” and to “play any type of character you can imagine.”