Expert Interviews > Jesse Schell

Jesse SchellJesse Schell is the CEO of Schell Games and a faculty member at the Carnegie Mellon University Entertainment Technology Center as well as the former Creative Director of the Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio. He is the author of The Art of Game Design: A Book of Lenses, which Game Developer magazine named book of the year in 2008. Upon founding Schell Games he has continued to help design and develop interactive theme park attractions as well as widely recognized massively multiplayer online games and other projects.

What is it about (computer) games that interests you most?

Games are like magic. They make whole worlds out of almost nothing. Computer games are even more magical, because technology is always finding new ways to do things. Computer games let us enter worlds we have only imagined before. 

What do you think makes a really good (computer) game?

That's like asking, "What makes a really good food?" The rules for a good steak sandwich are very different than the rules for a good cupcake. There are so many different kinds of games, for so many different purposes, and generalizations will be sweeping ones -- for example, most good games inspire curiosity. 

What are the most important lessons you have learned about how to engage players in (computer) games?

You have to find a way to connect with the player. You must give them something that they will care about -- whether that is a compelling character, or story situation, or a compelling problem to solve, if you don't make a personal connection with the player, you're going to fail. 

How do you go about designing a game? Where do you get your ideas?

Ideas come from everywhere -- but most games begin with a WIBNI. That is, "Wouldn't it be neat if..." 

What advice would you give a novice (computer) game designer?

Make games. Don't delay or hesitate -- the internets are full of free tools. Just get started! 

Do you think that games have a place in education? If so, how do you think they can most effectively be used? If not, what are your reservations?

Games have always had a place in education. Every time a teacher says something like "Bob has a problem. He needs to measure the height of a telephone pole, but he can't climb it. What should he do?" they have created a game. The entire educational system, with its scores, points, and grade levels is a game system, already. The key is to figure out how to best integrate games into education. In the educational revolution we'll see in the coming decade, where education gets less standardized and more customized, games will play an important role. 

How important do you think that graphical quality, and realism, is in computer games?

For some games it's important, for some games it isn't.  

Where do you see the future of (computer) games?

Everywhere.  

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