Harley Baldwin

Vice President of Game Design for Schell Games

Harley Baldwin is a veteran designer and leader in the AAA console game industry at notable game studios, including 2K, Nihilistic Software, Demiurge, Crystal Dynamics, LucasArts, and Her Interactive. She has worked on many titles and in many genres, from Rock Band and Tomb Raider to Call of Duty and XCOM.

At Schell Games, Harley draws on her formidable experience to mentor, cultivate design culture, and collaborate freely with clients and Schell Gamers to envision exciting, pioneering experiences for our players. With each unique project in mind, she understands and deploys the amazing and diverse skills and talents of Schell Games’ designers. As a regular on the conference circuit, she is often found representing Schell Games as speaker and participant. Harley also makes sure to poke at things, look under rocks, and play every day.

Talk One Description:

Designing A Department: Incubating Designers With Hard Work & Play

Schell Games’ unique game pipeline creates extraordinary opportunities for 20+ designers to exercise creative vision & leadership early in their careers. It also creates a strong need for support as people step up to the challenges they face – support that it’s my job as their leader to provide.

This talk will examine how the craft of game design informs my approach to meeting these needs, feeds my creative urge, and provides a roadmap for our trip into the unknown as we chase our penchant for innovative experiences.

It will include practical examples for how to do hard things like:
* Setting up & leading department meetings that don’t suck.
* Incubating a drove of designers — all with different skills — all at the same time.
* Sharing expertise amongst the group
* Getting your designers to talk to each other, even when they are on different projects
* Growing designers’ careers, not just their skill sets.
* Evaluating your collective progress & course correcting

Talk Two Description:

The Awkward Nerd As Cultural Professional

Thirty years ago, game designers were just a bunch of clever oddballs with a penchant for rules & computers. Now we’re a bunch of clever oddballs with a penchant for rules & computers & a nearly $100 BILLION reach into modern culture. No longer low entertainment, we’re affecting everything that people do in the digitally enabled society.

With the industry & market maturing, game development tools becoming widespread and easy to use, and a generation of digital natives joining our ranks, it’s time for us to mature as well. What we create – and how we create it – has a profound effect on our society, and, willingly or not, we now have a responsibility to consider our contribution in a larger cultural sense. This talk will examine other cultural phenomena that hold lessons for our own future, and attempt to illuminate why we must take our own work very, very seriously.

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