He’s a gamer: Schilling relishes his new role

He’s a gamer: Schilling relishes his new role


Former MLB pitcher Curt Schilling has moved from the bloody sock to blood and battle in the video game world with his Providence, R.I.-based development company, 38 Studios. The company this month released its first game, “Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning,” a fantasy, role-playing game title more than five years in development and distributed by Electronic Arts. The title was inspired in part by “The Hobbit,” “Dungeons and Dragons,” and other works set in the fictional Middle Earth, far from the baseball diamond. 38 Games represents a major focus for the famously outspoken Schilling, and “Kingdoms of Amalur” has quickly garnered strong reviews in the gaming press. Schilling, who has invested an estimated $35 million in 38 Studios, spoke this month with staff writer Eric Fisher on the venture.

With the career options and business opportunities you certainly had after retiring from baseball, why video games?

Curt Schilling is no longer on the mound, but he’s still pitching. This time, it’s video games.
I’ve been a hard-core gamer my whole life. Gaming has been as much a part of my career as baseball was. It’s something I’ve always been very passionate about. My best friend’s dad brought home an Apple in 1980, and I was writing stuff in BASIC when I was 13 years old. I’ve always loved computers. And I always felt technology gave me an enormous advantage in my baseball career, and I utilized it. And this is a natural progression. I wanted to do something I was passionate about like I was with baseball, and this was the only thing.

Do you anticipate having 38 Games produce any sports titles?

SCHILLING: I don’t. Never say never, but I’ve done [sports]. I spent my whole life doing that. When I can make a baseball game that’s as hard as the real thing was, maybe I’ll have interest. But we’re a studio of gamers. We want to make awesome games for other gamers. We are a privately owned company. That means a lot of different things. Obviously on the financial side, it’s much more challenging. But at the same time, we get to dictate the direction we go. It’s a purity thing that not a lot of companies can hang onto.

Is that your way of saying you don’t think much of the baseball video games currently on the market?

SCHILLING: I’ve never played them. I’ve played “Madden.” And I’ve played “NHL.” And I love both of them. But [with a baseball game], I never had interest. If I played a baseball game, it was Out Of The Park Baseball or Strat-O-Matic when I was younger. But baseball arcade-style, simulation-type games, I never ever had interest.

Did you want a relief from baseball with your gaming then?

SCHILLING: I don’t know that I wanted relief, but I just liked to relax. Going out and pitching in San Francisco and beating the Giants 3-2 was an awesome feeling, but I didn’t want to go home and replay it.

Do you foresee then having any other kind of involvement with baseball again, either yourself or the company?

SCHILLING: Probably not. I have a passion for pitching, talking about pitching. That’s what I know, and that’s why I did the ESPN stuff. But being a coach or a manager, I would want to try to be the best in the world at it, and that’s twice the time commitment as it was being a player. And I’ve got a wife and four kids and a company.

So what would define success for you with “Kingdoms of Amalur?”

SCHILLING: Being the largest-selling original fantasy [role-playing game] ever. A lot of people, I think, at different points of my career took what I said as hyperbole. But I want to be the best in the world at this.

You perhaps surprised some people when you said that you were more nervous about this project than pitching in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

SCHILLING: There’s a similarity in that once I let go of the ball on the mound, it was kind of out of my control. Here, same thing. Once you finish your master copy, and you’ve shipped, you sort of have to sit back. But I have a belief that from a preparation standpoint [as a player], I did everything I could ever do to be as good as I could be. When we shipped this game, I believe we made the best game we possibly could make. And if you don’t like it, it’s because you don’t like the genre, or something other than the brand.