Q&A: Curt Schilling Talks Video Games, Game of Thrones and What It’s Like to Be the Best

The former Phillies ace switched careers from pitcher to video game geek.

Once upon a time, Philadelphians cheered a right-handed pitcher vying to be the ace of the Phillies. Then, he went 16-7 in the 1993 regular season. He was NLCS MVP and tossed a shutout of the Blue Jays in his storied Game 5 of the World Series. After he left for the far away lands of Arizona and Boston, tales of World Series victories and a bloody sock made Philly’s former ace a household name. Now, Curt Schilling is the founder and chairman of 38 Studios—an entertainment and IP creation company that released Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning for Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and PC last month. I caught up with him to talk about Reckoning and the transition from starting pitcher to video game mogul.

Congratulations on the Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning. I’m not a gamer, but I’ve heard good things.
Thanks, that’s always good to hear. We have such a sense of pride in what we’ve accomplished. We’ve gotten a bunch of nines and tens [on a critic’s scale of 1-10] and we’re really happy with the way it’s been received.

I just read a piece on Kotaku [Gawker’s gaming site] that focused on how most of the reviews have been so positive, but a few weren’t.
Yeah, we got one asshole review, but it was from a guy who it seemed didn’t even really play the game. When you get a review like that kind of outlier, it’s a littler easier to focus on other responses.

With the critical success of Reckoning, are you guys working on a follow up?
Reckoning 2 is in the works, but it’s an MMO (massively multiplayer online) and that’s really our focus. I think that when you release a game like this you’re really offering people a service. So, we’re working hard on upgrades and additional content for it.

Was the transition from playing baseball professionally to running 38 Studios a difficult one?
You know, there really is so much crossover between what I was doing before and what I’m doing now—especially just that desire to be the best at something. You know, we say, “If you don’t want to be the best in the world at what you’re doing, go work for somebody else.”

You guys spent a long time on this game and it seems like it had been a plan of yours for a while.
Well, THQ was going to get rid of [Big Huge Games] and it really fell into our laps. We went in and bought it the day before they were going to go out of business. But, I got into this a year before I was done playing. I’ve been a gamer all my life. I’ve been into fantasy since I first got my hands on The Hobbit 35 years ago. I was a big into Dungeons & Dragons. I was a big D&D geek—I mostly read, but played a little. I was always carrying one of the books around.

You’re a fantasy guy. Does that mean you’re excited for the return of Game of Thrones on April 1st?
I watched the first episode with my wife and she got really into it. I missed the second episode and won’t just watch an episode here or there. I’ll wait until I can go back and watch them all in succession. But I’ve read all of the books and they’re great. You can make a case that all of the characters are based on major political figures. I love the books.