Lee Sheldon -- Ding! Gratz!
Remember that game design professor at Indiana University who used experience points instead of grades to run his classes? He's at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, now.
Professor Lee Sheldon first caught our attention with the XP system last spring while he was still teaching two "MMO-style" classes at Indiana University. Also, he used to work on Star Trek: The Next Generation before writing for games like the Agatha Christie PC series. Now, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute tells GamePro that Sheldon is their new co-director on the school's Games & Simulation Arts and Sciences (GSAS) program.
Rensselaer made The Princeton Review's top 8 game design schools for undergraduates last year at number 5. As GSAS co-director, Sheldon wants to put more of an emphasis on storytelling in games.
Contrary to putting Portal on his syllabus, however, Sheldon still has his class reading traditional texts while they work on their course projects (games). He then asks them to look at what they've done and ask big picture questions like, "What is it about this game that will touch humanity? That will endure?"
We asked him to name some current video games that get storytelling right and he said he couldn't think of any besides the obvious (Portal). We asked him to name some that are doing it wrong and he politely declined to trash-talk -- but he did say that despite Portal's achievements in storytelling, video games still had a lot more work to do to catch up with film or literature's development in narrative.
Sheldon's already well into his first semester at Rensselaer and, yes, he's still giving out XP instead of grades. Check him out here.
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Lee Sheldon -- Ding! Gratz!