Applying Game Design Lessons

Erich Schmidt graduated from USV in 2015 and worked for Unity before moving to Stanford Children’s Health, where he is managing elements of hospital engineering and safety at the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford. As the client sponsor for the current Game Studio project, he expressed the value of his education in game development during a recent visit to campus.

“I grew up in school and work environments where there was a lot of emphasis on being the key contributor, of being #1,” Erich commented while standing in a noisy hallway outside the Game Studio room. “At USV, that kind of attitude will not get you ahead.” Erich took time to develop a more mindful approach, to become a collaborator. “The techniques I have learned have made me a better contributor, a better employee, and also a better person.”

As he takes on mid-level leadership roles at work, he also takes it upon himself to mentor others. Recognizing there are many who can benefit from his perspective and experience, Erich draws on the basic lessons of game design and applies them to the task at hand. “One thing I have taken with me is what would be considered the four basic elements of a game: having a start condition, a goal, feedback and decisions along the way.” These conditions exist in much of what he is a part of in his current environment. “I approach many situations at work with an understanding of those four key concepts.” The benefit of taking stock of things from such a game design perspective provides Erich with a heightened sense of direction and purpose as well as increasing his opportunities to self-evaluate where he is at any moment in time.

It’s clear that Erich’s desire to help develop other people extends to bringing the Game Studio project to USV. The skills he has developed on his own and at work are now influencing a class of students who are grappling with many of the same issues. As each student presented their individual mix of technologies, art, and operations to the class, the entire group is informed about what they are taking on as a group. Leaders emerge by taking it upon themselves to improve the project and to mentor their classmates.

In his hallway remarks, Erich leaves us with, “You know, if you are going to hire smart people, why are you going to tell them what to do?” Emphatically, he urges us to “Give them the tools they need to do what they do and provide them support when they need it. That makes everything so much simpler.”


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