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Game Developer Jesse Schell to speak at TFNW

For speaker, author, and Schell Games CEO Jesse Schell, free time doesn't come easy. Whether he's taking time away from an industry conference for a phone call or trying to find a moment to play his company's own games, Schell knows how to manage what little spare time he has. Case in point? The man runs four Twitter accounts.

"Twitter doesn't take any time," Schell says over the phone from Pittsburgh. "It's just a fortune cookie here and there."

Schell is one of the most sought after speakers in the universe of game developers; lucky for Portlanders, he  will be speaking next month at TechfestNW about "Techniques for predicting the future of Tech."

Schell Games is one of the leading developers of “transformative” games, which utilize entertainment mechanics in order to positively transform the players' behavior, not simply to amuse.

Schell's latest example, The World Of Lexica, is an action-RPG with all the typical game elements: classic book characters, wide-open worlds and endless discovery. But beneath all of these “normal” game elements, every character originated from a well-known book. The Cheshire Cat is in there, so is Frankenstein’s Monster, and Mr. Hyde is also included. Schell and his colleagues believe that by including literary characters and showing them do amazing things on screen is a great way to help younger kids develop a lifelong love for reading, especially when novels featuring each of the characters are just a few taps away in an e-reader.
Another now-completed project focuses on teaching 11-13-year-old inner-city kids how to avoid HIV, funded by the National Institute of Health (NIH).

Schell is a former Disney Imagineer, and is also a juggler, comedian and circus artist. He's written a book on game design, teaches game design and development at the Carnegie Mellon Entertainment and Technology Center, and earned a degree of international fame with a talk he gave a few years back, "Beyond Facebook," which went viral.

He's also no stranger to crowd funding, having used Kickstarter to fund game ideas. Happy Atoms, his third Kickstarter project, is a LEGO-like approach toward teaching chemistry, eschewing the boring and confusing traditional algebra-esque approach. Coupled with augmented reality available on nearly every smartphone or tablet, users can piece together molecules at bonding points, snap a picture, and discover what they've made. Schell plans to bring a few of these plastic, rubber, and magnet models to Portland for his talk, which should excite even the anti-toy people among us.