Employee Spotlights


Russell Ball He/Him

Principal Engineering Manager

What's the best thing about working at Schell Games?

There is a lot that I enjoy about working at Schell Games. The leadership here takes into account the personal well-being of the employees, and that influences a lot of other aspects of the people and culture here. Added to that, Schell Games works on a lot of interesting projects and technologies and you do feel like you are able to contribute to those projects in meaningful and substantial ways. It's all challenging work, but it is fun.

What motivated you to begin working in the game industry?

I kind of just fell into it. I was working in Maryland and I got a call about a startup for a video game company back here in Pittsburgh. For a while I was the only tech person at the company. I had a huge set of responsibilities and I learned a lot about developing games, starting with just an initial idea. Since then, I have moved to Schell Games and have been in the games industry ever since.

What’s the best piece of advice you received?

One of the best ways to get something done is to just keep doing it. If you want to accomplish a goal, make sure to set some time and make some progress toward that goal. This works the other way around as well. If you find that you are not working towards a goal that you've set for yourself, you should re-evaluate and decide if that goal is still worth your time.

What was your favorite game as a child?

When I was a kid, a bunch of friends and I played a variant of capture the flag that I can still remember. What I remember is that it wasn't just playing the game on some soccer field, where you could just sprint into the opponent's area, grab the flag and sprint back. We would play across an entire school property or use a whole city block. It was such a big area that you had to infiltrate the opponent's base by sneaking your way behind walls or through buildings. If you were discovered, you just had to outrun your opponent and hope that no one else was around to help catch you. Setting up a single game was a whole big production, defining all of the boundaries and rules before each session.

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If you could instantly become an expert in anything, what would it be?

I am very interested in mathematics. I will sometimes read published papers and try to walk through their results in my free time. I have some vague ideas about some tough unsolved problems, so I would say that I would want to become an expert in those areas of math and solve those problems in order to help progress our understanding of mathematics in general.

What’s your favorite thing to do in Pittsburgh?

Thinking back on this, I am amazed at how much Pittsburgh has changed over the time that I have been here. There have been lots of new places to go, places to eat and fun things to do, but one of the things I think I have consistently enjoyed are all of the parks and trails in and around Pittsburgh. Schell Games is currently right along the Pittsburgh River Trail which is a nice place for people in the office to get out and take a nice walk during lunch.

What are you most proud of working on while at Schell Games?

It's hard to pick just one thing. I could say how I was able to make software for some of the new or experimental hardware that we are presented with, and all of the challenges that come with making something performant on those types of devices. I could also talk about some of the server-side technology that we have had to create, and some of the systems we have integrated with, which is an entire different set of challenges and problems to solve. I like new challenges, so I'm proud to help solve these types of problems.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?

The ability to alter reality to whatever I want. I know that this is kind of cheating, since you can use that to give yourself any other superpower instantly, but I am definitely the type of person who would wish for more wishes. If I wasn't allowed to get that, I could probably settle for something that would let me move through space and time, so that I could comfortably travel around the universe and see everything that it has to offer.

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What was the weirdest job you ever had?

I don't know if I have had any job that people would consider "weird." I would say the one that I think people may find most interesting was working in a chemistry research lab and researching the effectiveness of various techniques that chemists in the lab would use. I was allowed to use some very expensive machines, even though I was at an entry-level position. Luckily, I didn't break anything or cause any real damage.

What beverage do you always have on hand at work? Coffee, tea, or other?

Usually some tea and lots of water. The thing is, if I am holding a drink, I will constantly drink out of it. Keeping my water glass full helps to keep me from drinking way too much caffeine throughout the day.