Paul Sztajer – scenestr of the day

Published in SOD  
What do you do?
I'm a game designer and developer, who specialises in using games to educate and communicate. I usually work on digital games (my day job is at 3P Learning and I run the videogame studio SeeThrough Studios), but I also take on a wide range of mediums, including visual art, installations, board games, and physical games. Most recently, I was the game designer for Art Heist – a reverse escape room where you have to steal a painting from an art gallery.

Why do you do it?
I'm drawn to both the massive potential of games and the interdisciplinary nature of the medium. It feels like we're just starting to work out how to use games to tell complex, interesting stories, and that we're also starting to unlock the great opportunities that the medium has to educate and inform. It's exciting to be part of that.

What do you love about the city you live in?
Right now, I'm living in Palermo (Sicily) for a month as I start experimenting with being a digital nomad. So far, I'm loving the food, the weather, and proximity to the ocean. I'm also travelling with an excellent group of people, which makes all the difference.

Where did you go for your last holiday?
Um... here? Maybe? Otherwise it'd be Paris.

What's your favourite item of clothing? Why?
My rock-climbing pants – they're super comfy and they stop me from grazing my knees on everything.

What was your favourite TV show when you were a kid?
'Sliders' – I just loved seeing all the different worlds they invented. Oh, and there was an episode with dinosaurs, which basically won me over single-handedly.

If you could travel back in time for a day, where would you go?
I kind of want to see the moment when someone first found some off milk, drank/ate it anyway, decided that it was amazing and invented cheese.

If we were coming over to your place, what would you cook for us?
Probably burritos – they're both pretty easy to make and delicious!

What's the best lesson you've ever learned?
Your first attempt at something new will probably suck. Be OK with that and do it anyway.

Tell us one thing about yourself that nobody else knows...
It took me about 20 minutes to find Corn Starch in an Italian supermarket today.

Are you happy with your work/life balance?
Right now I am. But it's something you have to constantly work on, especially when you've got side projects that you really enjoy working on.

How do you define success?
Differently for different aspects of life, and for different projects – I try to make sure I take the time to define it each time. How much I've learnt from an experience tends to be pretty common, and I've found myself more interested in a project's social impact as I've progressed.

What's your spirit animal?
The narwhal, because, well, why? And how? And people thought unicorns were real because of them? The absurdity of the whole thing is fantastic.

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