Students in Game Design I were treated to a digital visit from Jesse Schell, who answered their questions about designing games. Schell’s first job out of graduate school was designing virtual reality experiences for Disney, and it wasn’t long before he started his own design studio.
Schell Games produces a wide variety of games from cutting edge virtual reality games like I Expect You To Die, an escape-room game, and Domino World to kids’ games like Daniel Tiger, PBS’s newest iteration of Mr. Rogers’s Neighborhood. Schell was happy to answer students’ burning questions about the design process and the games industry.
Political Science senior Demetri Christian queried how sound design happens for games; Schell explained that it’s often the final step, and may even be outsourced from the company if it is small. “Most sound designers for games freelance,” he said, which makes sense, given the project-based nature of game design.
Asked about world building by first-year NMS major Spencer McClure, Schell replied, “It’s always a gory mess,” and described how studios may have a couple of core world-builders on the task, or may involve the entire design team in the process.
Students also (understandably) wanted to know what it takes to become a designer; Schell mused, “Getting into this profession is not about having the ‘right’ degree. It’s about following your passion.” He continued, “Having a stellar portfolio is key, and you need to network with people at the companies where you would want to work, at conferences, on Twitter, and by email–if you have a smart question, people like to give advice.”
And the opportunities to build their game design portfolios abound here at Alma; outside of courses dedicated to games, students can also join the Alma College Gaming Guild, working in teams or solo on design projects all year long.
Gaming Guild meets on Monday nights at 6pm in SAC 110. Drop in for design tips and support, or to play any of our board or card games, tabletop RPGs, or the PlayStation 4.