Gaming Gods

How to Get to the Next Level




Tim Schafer
Founder, Double Fine Productions
Celebrated game maker (Full Throttle) who recently raised an unprecedented $3.3 million on Kickstarter for an adventure game

Andrew Wilson
Executive Vice President, EA Sports
Oversees leading maker of sports games, including the Madden NFL, FIFA, and NBA Live franchises

Chelsea Howe
Director of Design, SuperBetter Labs
Rising-star designer whose most recent game helps users achieve health goals or recover from injuries

what's the greatest hurdle you face in game development today?

"The Internet has allowed a lot of access--people feel entitled to change the ending of games, for example. So there are a lot more voices coming at you all the time, which I think has its effect on creative decision making and possibly makes people more afraid to take risks."

"We used to build new games annually: We knew what we were building for, there were two or three platforms, and we knew the times and dates to target. Now we don't just interact with you once a year, but we speak to you with new content and new forms every day."

"We need to get over this idea that games are just for fun. Games have so much potential to make us feel and think and let us explore humanity. Games are going to be the dominant artistic expressive medium for the next 100 years."

What inspiration outside of gaming do you find most valuable?

"I love studying folklore and legends. The stories that people passed down for a thousand years without any sort of marketing support are obviously saying something appealing about the basic human condition."

"A movie has a hero and a villain, a story, a twist, a climax, and an epilogue. Sports does too. There is this whole ecosystem around sports that exists beyond just what happens on the court. I think, How do we fulfill that story? How do we drive the conversation about what's important in the lead-up to the final score, and after?"

"I look for moments that fill me with wonder. When I was on a beach in Europe, I saw a jellyfish floating. I researched it and learned that this creature lives its whole life just getting blown around. I thought, What would you do if you had no control over where you went? Then I built that into a game."

What can creators of other types of content learn from your work in gaming?

"Every day, we think of crazy ideas and then we laugh and say, 'People might be offended by that' or 'People aren't expecting that from me.' But I have found that everything worth doing is hiding behind a big, scary monster."

"We're having great success challenging the status quo. For our FIFA game, we said, 'What if you didn't control all 11 players? What if you control one?' Skeptics said, 'Why would you want to play left back instead of center forward?' In a world where you play 11 on 11 with friends, playing left back is meaningful. That more than tripled our FIFA business."

"There's so much that you can learn from just watching people play--whether it's games or watching people exploring a system, which is kind of what games are. The power of games is to help us explore all of the potential we have."