Curt Schilling the dragon-slayer
Curt Schilling is now the chairman and founder of 38 Studios, a video game company that is getting set to release its first title.
January 17th, 2012
04:15 PM ET

Curt Schilling the dragon-slayer

Curt Schilling can throw a baseball far better than you can. He can also kick your dark-elf butt in a Nagafen raid or smite Deathwing the Destroyer before you get close enough to smell the smoldering embers.

Schilling is, and has been for the past 31 years, a gamer. He honed his controller skills on an Intellivision video game system. His first favorite game was - surprise - “Major League Baseball.”

“I was at the right age for consoles, when ‘Pong’ was the ‘Need For Speed’ of the day,” Schilling said. “(‘Major League Baseball’) was like the greatest baseball game ever. If you had a consistent playing partner like they do in ‘Starcraft’ now, every game was 1-0, and you had to hit a home run down the left field line.”

But that fascination didn’t last long. Schilling - who had a very successful MLB pitching career lasted for 20 season; who helped two different teams win world championships in 2001, 2004 and 2007; who was a six time All-Star and currently holds the record for postseason winning percentage - said baseball video games were never hard enough to keep his attention.

So he started playing fantasy-based, massive multiplayer online games such as “Ultima Online” and “EverQuest.”

“I was always a big fantasy guy, a big ‘Dungeons and Dragons’ kind of gamer,” Schilling said. “That was always a very big, significant piece of my gaming because I was always a very avid reader as a kid. I read ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy for probably the 20th time a couple of years ago, but that’s what got me into fantasy gaming.”“If you think about it,” Schilling said, “I’ve lived the ultimate gamer life.”

As a professional baseball player, “I had a glut of disposable income, and I traveled and was alone a lot,” he said. “I was perfectly suited to be a hardcore gamer and if you look at the sports world today, I think there are more gamers than not, now, in professional sports by a large margin.”

Schilling said he was using a computer and helped design software to help him become a better pitcher when most players and teams were using videotape. Of course, the computer also doubled as his gaming rig during his days off.

As his baseball career progressed and technology became more prevalent with teams, more players started using computers and video games were creeping into clubhouses as younger players join the squad. Schilling made it a point to be one of the take-charge guys when it came time to game.

“I was kind of an oddball at the time, and I was around and on some teams that it probably wasn’t the cool thing to have a computer. But obviously it became much more popular to the point where my last couple of years, I had two traveling console set-ups where we had a flat screen, an Xbox and a PlayStation and they would get out and get put up on the airplanes when we were flying around.”

So as his Major League playing days were winding down and he was eyeing what to do after his last pitch, gaming seemed a natural fit for a new career.

Schilling is now the chairman and founder of 38 Studios, a video game company that is getting set to release its first title, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” on February 7.

“Gaming, outside of the Lord, baseball and my family, was always my thing,” he said. “I took this very much as I did my baseball career. I scouted the industry for about five or six years, and I took notes and I went to a lot of lunches and a lot of meetings with people that were in the industry and just get a feel for what I was up against.”

He knew he wanted to focus on a new fantasy role-playing intellectual property, but also knew he wasn’t going to be the one to put it all together. So he played a little “fantasy baseball” and visualized who he would want to put together his vision of a different kind of fantasy game.

Using his connections, Schilling was able to bring in author R.A. Salvatore to write the story, designer Todd McFarlane to do the art and animation, and Ken Rolston, the lead designer of “The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind” and “The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion," to act as the executive designer. This all-star line-up formed the backbone for the work on “Reckoning.”

“I had no interest of getting into the industry to build games,” Schilling said. “This has never been about me. We’re not making Curt Schilling’s game. This is not a vanity project, and it never has been.”

“Every bit of my focus was getting in the industry to help an intellectual property change the way people get entertained and be the best in the world at it. If you’re not going to try and win it all, I really don’t feel like playing.”

Bringing together these giants in their particular fields could have been a problem as egos and styles could potentially clash. Schilling said that never happened and all three have been hands-on while mentoring the younger members of the team.

“You check the egos at the door. I use a lot of sports euphemisms and examples around here. Getting these people to understand you play for the name on the front of the jersey and not the name on the back has been a key piece of this.”

Adopting a game developer lifestyle and leaving professional baseball behind wasn't always easy for Schilling. Since he suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), he had to replace his pitching schedule with a rigorous new structure to manage his life.

“I’m a very routine-oriented guy. Deep down inside the game dev process, there is that routine, but the wins and losses are much farther between. And they are different. When you win a game against the Yankees on Monday and it’s on ESPN and all over in the newspapers, there is immediate instant feedback. This is very different. You have to find wins and losses in different ways.”

“I don’t miss anything I did for a living. I was born to do it for a long, long time. The things I got to see and be a part of, I’ll be forever grateful, but I’m looking for the new schedule, the new playing field, the new World Series. That’s been the challenge is to find where and when and how those things happen here.”

And as a gamer, Schilling knows that anything is possible.

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soundoff (64 Responses)
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    June 1, 2012 at 2:20 pm |
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    May 26, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  7. TAK

    No sir, I don't like him. He was a Diamondback and a Red Sock. But now he's something much more distasteful... a Republican.

    January 19, 2012 at 1:59 pm |
    • urmomlol

      Yeah, I hate everyone who has the nerve to have political opinions that are different than mine. It just makes life easier!

      January 19, 2012 at 4:33 pm |
      • MaryInBoise

        Thank you! I am pretty much a liberal. My husband is pretty much a conservative. We have a lot of other things in common that make up for the fact that our politics differ. The world would sure be a boring place for me if I chose to surround myself only with people who think the same way I do.

        February 3, 2012 at 3:19 pm |
  8. Arlene

    Due to this jerks comments about "enjoying shutting up a bunch of New Yorkers in Yankee stadium", We won't be selling 38 Studios games in any of our 26 stores!

    January 19, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • Nice.

      Petty much?

      January 19, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • David

      Petty? Absolutely. Stupid even more so. I see where you don't lack opinion you lack business sense.

      January 19, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
    • Minorkle

      I think you should save your money for tuition to a good business school.

      January 19, 2012 at 6:25 pm |
    • MC

      LMAO! I'm sure he gives a sh1t about your pathetic store.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:53 am |
  9. Jeff

    Curt Schilling is a hardworking, accessible businessman, talented pitcher,and a true friend to baseball, the gaming community, and veterans. Sure we might have philosophical disagreements, but when I introduced Curt to a veteran from World War 2, he wrote a very personable note thanking the veteran for his service. As for the
    Loan from Rhode Island, congrats Curt! Create some jobs and produce and good series of games! Go Curt!

    January 19, 2012 at 1:00 am |
  10. GhostColin

    Next time you're teabagging that BE in a plate-kini during an AV zergfest, just think...it could be a MLB All-Star. I'll be checking this out. I'm always up for a new game.

    January 18, 2012 at 10:12 pm |
    • MC

      WoW is so 2007.

      January 20, 2012 at 4:54 am |
  11. modernfan

    I played the demo last night & really enjoyed it. There are so few game studios willing to commit the time & money to crafting richly detailed single player RPGs anymore. I applaud Curt Schilling for helping keep the genre alive. The open world in this game is incredibly beautiful & will be fun to explore more fully when this game is released. I know I won't regret preordering.

    January 18, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
  12. dave

    I used to kick his ass around Ultima.

    January 18, 2012 at 9:15 pm |
  13. NHnativetransplanttoBama

    Actions speak louder than words... and Curt has earned my utmost respect. I enjoyed cheering him on when he wore the Red Sox uniform and helped break the curse of the bambino. But years afterwards, he went out of his way to sign a photo of my son deployed in Afghanistan, and then donated a signed baseball to a local charity auction I was working. He's a true winner by any measure.

    January 18, 2012 at 4:50 pm |
  14. svann

    Downloaded the Amalur demo. Not real pleased with it so far. Will try playing into it a little more.

    January 18, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
  15. David

    First, let me say I am a Red Sox fan and love how he helped bring 2 championships to Boston. Secondly, I know nothing about gaming.

    That being said, I think Curts biggest contribution to things is his undying respect and admiration for our Veterans, particularly those of WWII. He is a big contributor to the effort to have a statue of Major Richard Winters erected in Normandy, and he plays a big role in many events involving other members of the Band of Brothers like Babe Heffron and Wild Bill Guarnere. Currahee, Curt!!

    January 17, 2012 at 9:12 pm |
    • Jim M

      From Band of Brothers HBO... When asked by his grandchild if he was a hero, Dick Winters answered back "No, I'm not a hero, but I served in a company of hero's". Major Winters was a class act no doubt about it, however it seems that a statue dedicated to the company he served would be more fitting to his memory. I understand Curt being from a military family background, would understand that it is not one person who makes the company, but a united team of persons that make it.

      January 18, 2012 at 8:26 pm |
      • David

        The statue will be a likeness of Major Winters "but will also be representative of ALL soldiers of all divisions who were responsible for leading men into combat in Normandy on June 6, 1944. " See their site: http://wwiifoundation.org/current-projects/richard-winters-leadership-project/

        January 19, 2012 at 3:25 pm |
      • Jacob

        is out of print disturbs me on two lvlees. As a baseball fan, I have found these books to be an invaluable source of comfort during the long winter months when our game goes into hybernation. As a reader, I have found in these volumes beautiful writing and keen insight, something that is so often lacking in what passes for journalism today. Mr. Angell (longtime fiction editor at The New Yorker) writes about baseball as a fan, and he does so for fans. Real fans those of us who recognize that a double and a single are preferable to a home run, those that marvel at a right fielder's gorgeous one-hop throw to third to nip the sliding runner, those that hurt just a little bit during rain delays. If, by some wild stretch of the imagination the publisher of the Summer Game (I don't remember who it was right off) reads this, I think a single collection of the best of Angell's baseball writings is in order if not a re-pressing of all.

        March 4, 2012 at 8:47 pm |
  16. danny

    Seems like a cool guy. Don't know why there are people complaining above. The article doesn't even say anything about politics. It's talking about videogames. Clearly many of the people reading this article do not understand that. Keep up the good work Kurt.

    January 17, 2012 at 8:05 pm |
    • Sara

      Macs Rule!Red Sox Rule!Procrastination Rules!McLaren is a tough read!Halloween Rules!24 Rules! (I think this year will be much better!)Fantasy Football Rules! (Althought I'm sucikng this year)Kobe to Detroit Rumors Rule! TGIF!

      September 12, 2012 at 3:20 pm |
  17. Robert42

    I never cared for him much as a player. But he's been able to take his retirement and live his dream. We should all be so lucky. All the unfounded hate at a guy who is doing what he loves just reveals all of the shallow envious fools that live on the internet.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:35 pm |
    • Rigel

      IggaPenguin on September 4, 2011 I love the blankets!! They look so soft and rellay nice to cuddle you little one in!! I rellay like the toddler hoodie! I want won for me! Lol

      March 5, 2012 at 4:44 pm |
  18. ORC GOD OF BASEBALL

    Wow Curt pulled out the big guns for this game. RA Salvatore is the perfect writer for fantasy games and Mcfarlane's art is as good as it gets.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm |
  19. Rich

    Pre-Ordered my copy today. Looking forward to playing it. And as a lifelong Red Sox Fan, I had to get it.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:17 pm |
  20. j

    Reckoning the Game's website wasn't prepared for the traffic it would receive from this article, it seems. It's down.

    January 17, 2012 at 7:04 pm |
  21. Rob

    I know plenty of 12 year olds who'd smoke you fool.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:48 pm |
    • Traf_Rellik

      Way to miss the point, rob. Blame the author for those ego boosts, not Schilling.

      January 17, 2012 at 7:11 pm |
    • Nelson

      LoL...I bet you know plenty of 12 year olds. Way to bash someone who seems legitimately nice and make yourself sound like a pedo in the process. That's two stones with one bird isn't it? =)

      January 18, 2012 at 11:50 am |
  22. tctczach

    Rolston and Salvatore combined is like a dream for RPG gaming. Cannot wait.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  23. ruben

    No mention of the $75 Million taxpayer-guaranteed loan given Schilling's 38 Studios by the star-struck Rhode Island Legislature? Schilling is not putting up a dime for this – no wonder he's so pleased.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
    • Jim M

      Yes, he got the loan from the state of Rhode Island, the bulk of monies available from the state for company development, but he also shelled out a lot of his funds. He is already employing a large staff of personal in Providence, and I hope he succeeds big-time, regardless on how I differ with him politically.

      January 18, 2012 at 8:32 pm |
  24. Jim Beranis

    Curt! Do you play Skyrim on xbox?? Friend me if you do!! my gamertag is Jim1207!!

    January 17, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
  25. theylive

    Right wing dufus. Now that he can't throw a ball in the major leagues anymore, I don't care what this big mouthed dipstick does. Actually I didn't care then either.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:08 pm |
    • urmomlol

      ^ "I totally don't care so much that I'm going to post in a thread to demonstrate how much I don't care. Also, I can't spell doofus correctly. Derp."

      January 19, 2012 at 4:32 pm |
      • Franciele

        mbkvsrox on February 6, 2010 can aoynbdy tell me why not these nice cars we can buy in germany ??because of the cob2 emissions or what ?

        March 7, 2012 at 2:54 am |
  26. Unit34AHunter

    It's not his first foray into the gaming industry either. He's long had an interest in military history and owns a small publisging company that specializes in tactical and strategic combat simulation board games. He seems like a stand up guy, to me, and he's a shoe in for the Hall of Fame.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:04 pm |
  27. Mike

    hmmm...surprised that a guy from New York City would call Schilling an "extremely unlikeable moron"...oh yeah...He was the MVP of the 2001 Yankee killer Diamondbacks and a member of both 2004 and 2007 World Series Champion Red Sox rosters.

    January 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Unit34AHunter

      You called that one right!

      January 17, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • JayBiz

      HA, hilarious when you consider the PED's this guy was on at the time. but of course, his name wasnt leaked.

      January 17, 2012 at 7:01 pm |
      • Robert42

        I'll just wait here for you to post some shred of proof of that.

        ... still waiting.

        Yeah, that's what I thought.

        January 17, 2012 at 7:33 pm |
  28. B-52 Bomber

    Not sure what you trolls are basing your 'tool-dom' on, but it shows you know nothing about the game – and what he is putting together. He is a gamer – a fan – and had the resources and will to pull together some giants Salvatore/McFarlane to create a very cool looking game. He's also smart enough to stay out of the way and let his folks just do what they need to do. Pretty cool story – and I have already pre-ordered the game.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:57 pm |
    • Terry Amburgey

      I'm not that big on single player games. I'm much more interested in the MMORPG that 38 Studios has been working on. Same development team and game setting but an online game.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:07 pm |
  29. Steve, New York City

    Curt Schilling is an extremely talented pitcher. . . it's too bad that he's an extremely unlikeable moron.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:34 pm |
    • tom

      "Curt Schilling is an extremely talented pitcher. . . it's too bad that he's an extremely unlikeable moron."

      While he was certainly an excellent pitcher, he's a long shot for the Hall. I agree with the second part, the guy is not a thoughtful person and has said some pretty stupid stuff over the years.

      January 17, 2012 at 5:54 pm |
    • Unit34AHunter

      What's not to like? He put the NY Stankees into the ground twice when he pitched for Boston, he's smart, and he doesn't live in the past like most retired athletes. I'd share a beer with him any day but not with you.

      January 17, 2012 at 6:01 pm |
  30. Scott

    Ditto. I will have to check out the demo. The game sounds interesting, that much is certain.

    January 17, 2012 at 5:26 pm |
  31. phil

    wow, this guy is a bigger tool than anticipated. What a loser !

    January 17, 2012 at 5:24 pm |
    • Unit34AHunter

      Your envy is showing, and it ain't pretty!

      January 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Bliss

      Shame you have nothing better to do than troll

      January 17, 2012 at 6:02 pm |
    • Philly

      Nobody likes you phil.

      nobody.

      January 17, 2012 at 7:56 pm |
    • bob

      So, Bliss, your definition of a troll is "someone with whom I disagree"?

      January 18, 2012 at 11:05 am |
    • Angela

      Jul21 Justin raises isngificant points, but they actually reinforce my argument.The duty of honest research and verification falls to all writers and to all journalists. Not everyone meets the standards to which we should aspire, and shortcomings are found alike among those who are on the payrolls of newspapers and magazines and with those who are not. These duties are enforced, in our world, by criticism and by the marketplace, not by profession. If a doctor or a lawyer betrays the canon of the profession, they are expelled from the profession by panels of doctors and lawyers; control of admittance to and the practice of a profession is one of the defining properties of a profession. A newspaper reporter remains a journalist as long as Mr. Murdoch continues to pay her salary.Objectivity and impartiality are complex and often contested commodities in journalism. Was H. L. Mencken impartial ? Drew Pearson? Walter Lippman? Hunter Thompson? My mother was a newspaperwoman; when Mr. Hearst was signing her paycheck, just what did objectivity mean?

      April 8, 2012 at 1:13 pm |
  32. Low Key in AZ

    Been a fan of Schilling's since our World Series win in 2001, and a video game fan even longer. Can't wait to check this out!

    January 17, 2012 at 5:04 pm |