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Phantom inspiration and the ethical auteur with Xalavier Nelson Jr.

On our latest podcast, we welcomed Strange Scaffold creative director Xalavier Nelson Jr.

Danielle Riendeau

December 8, 2023

On the latest episode of the Game Developer podcast, we had a far-ranging chat with Strange Scaffold creative director Xalavier Nelson Jr. Nelson's outfit just put out its largest game, El Paso, Elsewhere, earlier in the fall, to significant critical acclaim. We talked a great deal about the game and its many inspirations.

Nelson gave honest assessment of the game's production cycle and the team's work practices. We also discussed broader problems in game production throughout the industry, including career longevity and the simple fact that folks in creative fields need to be able to pass on information and learnings to newer ones.

Music by Mike Meehan. Produced by Jordan Mallory.

Listen now on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.

"We don't give people enough experiences, frankly." Nelson says, when discussing developers' longevity and quality of experiences in the game industry. "Compared to any [film] director, and the amount of work they do in their first ten years, both speculative stuff as well as stuff that actually comes out, vs. what a single creative director in games tends to get to do, in the span of ten years, then you see, pretty quickly... it's immediately obvious why we don't have clearer voices producing more consistently and producing in a way that actively gathers people to care about those voices as well."

Nelson works across media on top of his Strange Scaffold duties, a writer for games and comics, as well as his latest endeavor: acting, which he shows off as the voice of El Paso, Elsewhere's protagonist.

You can listen to the full episode embedded above for the full chat, including Nelson's advice for aspiring indie developers and leaders.

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Game Developer Podcast

About the Author(s)

Danielle Riendeau

Editor-in-Chief, GameDeveloper.com

Danielle is the editor-in-chief of Game Developer, with previous editorial posts at Fanbyte, VICE, and Polygon. She’s also a lecturer in game design at the Berklee College of Music, and a hobbyist game developer in her spare time.

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