When Jesse Schell presented his foward-looking lecture, The Power of Touch, at Casual Connect USA in San Francisco, it was obvious to the audience that he passionately believes touch UI is changing, and would continue to change, the way people interact with digital content. He intrigued the audience with concrete examples and far-fetched ideas of how touch interfaces make digital content both more accessible and more immersive. After all, Jesse says, “We have been touching things for 300,000,000 years.”
Jesse Schell is CEO of Schell Games, a company focused developing Transformational Games (games that change people for the better). He is also author of the book The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses and Distinguished Professor of the Practice of Entertainment Technology at Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center. At Casual Connect USA, Jesse announced their new iPad app for Lionel called Battle Trains, and their online, collaborative game design community, GameSprout.
Jesse tells us his work consists of keeping their developers happy, healthy and doing incredible work. He believes that each game he has worked on has taught him something; he uses every previous experience to guide how to best tackle the next game. His greatest satisfaction comes from seeing his students at the Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center go on to create incredible games and experiences such as World of Goo, the Uncharted series and new rides at Disney World.
We asked Jesse what he enjoyed doing in his free time; his answer was, “What is this Free Time of which you speak?” but then admitted he juggles and plays the hulusi, and that his favorite music genre is skiffle. He describes himself as “unique, just like everybody else,” although if you see him playing skiffle music on the hulusi, you might think him unique in his very own way!
Growing Schell Games from a ragtag band to a team of over 100 developers has been the greatest challenge Jesse has faced during his career. “To do so” he says, “has required a lot of patience, and willingness to change how we do things without letting go of our core values.” The critical things he has learned as he worked through these challenges are, “Communication is everything in game development, and communication structures must be designed, built and maintained, just like games.”
The latest trend Jesse sees affecting Schell Games is the deployment of tablets into schools. They are dealing with this trend by working to create world-class educational games that can be part of traditional education, as well as augmenting the gaps that still exist in education. But the trend he sees affecting the game industry as a whole is the development of artificially intelligent characters.
Catherine Quinton is a staff writer for www.gamesauce.org. Catherine loves her hobby farm, long walks in the country and reading great novels.