Timothy John Schafer is a video game designer and is best known for creating critically acclaimed games like Full Throttle, Grim Fandango, Psychonauts, Brütal Legend, and Broken Age. He was also the co-creator of Day of the Tentacle. He is well-known in the industry for his storytelling and comedic writing style and has received both a Game Developers Choice Award and a BAFTA Fellowship for his contributions to the industry. But did you ever wonder how Schafer ended up working for LucasArts?
When Tim Schafer was interviewed for a job at LucasArts, he said he was a fan of their game “Ballblaster” The interviewer told him their game was called “Ballblazer,” and only pirated copies were called otherwise. He eventually got the position.
How Did Tim Schafer Start His Career?
While studying computer science at UC Berkeley, Schafer became interested in writing and was inspired by Kurt Vonnegut, who wrote short stories in the evenings while working as a publicist at General Electric.
Schafer chose a similar path, interning to help develop databases for small businesses while attempting to position himself for a position in a larger corporation such as Atari or Hewlett-Packard. Unfortunately, he was turned down by both. He was drawn to a job posting from Lucas Film Games. The company was looking for programmers who could also write game dialogue.
Schafer joined LucasArts in 1989 as a scummlet. A scummlet is a programmer who assists in the implementation of features and ideas proposed by the lead game developers within the LucasArts SCUMM engine. (Source: VG Legacy)
Tim Schafer’s Philosophy and Influences
Schafer stated that he strives to integrate story into gameplay, with the creative goal of creating a video game with no cutscenes at all someday.
The game’s initial inspiration came from the world. One day, I was listening to someone tell me about their summer in Alaska. They’d been hanging out at this one biker bar, with people like Smilin’ Rick and Big Phil. And I thought, ‘Wow, what a crazy world that is.’ It’s so far removed from everyone’s lives, yet it’s right there, in a way. That’s how Full Throttle came to be.Tim Schafer, American Video Game Designer
(Source: Game Studies)
Tim Schafer Notable Awards and Achievements
Psychonauts was first shown to the press at the E3 trade show in 2002, it won the Game Critics Award for Best Original Game. Time Schafer and Erik Wolpaw won Best Writing for Psychonauts at the 2006 Game Developers Choice Awards.
Schafer and Double Fine Executive Producer and COO Caroline Esmurdoc were also named Best New Studio. Schafer received a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) video game Best Screenplay award in October 2006 for Psychonauts.
He also received the Vanguard Award at Bilbao’s Fun & Serious Game Festival in 2015. In March 2018, Schafer received the Game Developers Choice Awards Lifetime Achievement Award.
At the British Academy Games Awards in April 2018, he received a BAFTA Fellowship as a true pioneer of game design, who has pushed the boundaries of the medium through his extraordinary talents. (Source: All Famous Birthday)