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Jesse Schell juggles company success by letting imaginations run wild.

His company, Schell Games, based in the South Side, has hit a wide stride in the gaming industry. Launched in 2004 with five game designers, the company has 60 employees today, 56 here and four in its office in Austin, Texas. A catalyst in the region's growing gaming industry, Schell boasts a repertoire of projects so good that some are theme park rides in Disney World.

Jesse Schell, in fact, started out with Disney where he was the creative director of the Disney Imagineering Virtual Reality Studio, working and playing for seven years as designer, programmer and manager on several projects for Disney theme parks and DisneyQuest. He came to Pittsburgh to join the faculty of Carnegie Mellon's Entertainment Technology Center where he teaches classes in Game Design and advises up and coming projects.

Last year Epcot opened with a Schell project, "Sum of All Thrills," which gives riders computer tablets to design a virtual roller coaster, bobsled track or plane ride. Riders then jump on board a robotic carriage that uses virtual-reality to take the rider on the trip they created. It's one of several new frontiers in gaming.

Schell also creates games for Disney's Toontown Online, the first massively multiplayer game for kids: "Pixie Hollow," a world of fairies with massive appeal for girls; "Toy Story Mania," and "Pirates Online," to name a few. The company was also a recipient of a coveted Thea, presented annually to projects that achieve outstanding quality.

"We're an unusual gaming studio offering out of the box experiences," says Schell who offered a company overview during a recent talk to BlueTree Allied Angels. "The key is being able to connect (players and riders) to unusual experiences."

Pittsburgh, fourth after San Francisco, LA and Austin, is well positioned for the video gaming industry with plenty of engineers and a reasonable cost of living, he adds.

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Writer: Deb Smit
Source: Jesse Schell, Schell Games

Schell Games
2313 E. Carson Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15203-2161
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