Extra Credits
Because Games Matter

James Portnow

Best known for writing the YouTube series Extra Credits, James Portnow is a game designer and consultant known for his theories on socially positive design.

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About James Portnow

Best known for writing the YouTube series Extra Credits, James Portnow is a game designer and consultant known for his theories on socially positive design. He received his Masters from Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center, and went on to work for Activision as a designer on the Call of Duty series before raising funds to start his own company, Divide by Zero Games. He spent four years at DigiPen Institute of Technology where he taught undergraduate game design and master’s level game software production courses.

He currently serves as the CEO of Rainmaker Games, a design and consulting firm that has worked with partners from Zynga to Riot Games, in addition to writing the popular Extra Credits, Extra History, and Extra Sci Fi series.


In the Press

"Accessibility in Progression-Driven Games" - James discusses accessibility in game design with writer Bryant Francis, developer Tara Voelker, and Ablegamers COO Steven Spohn - May 2017

One Life Left vs. Gamasutra at GDC - Podcast - March 2016

The Stream - June 4, 2014 - Aljazeera - June 2014

"Dangerous Game: Bullying in Tropes Vs. Women" news segment by 16x9 Global News - November 2012

In Virtual Play, Sex Harassment Is All Too Real - New York Times - August 2012

The Kojo Nnnamdi Show - Indie Video Games - NPR - January 2012

Argentina's video gamers take on world - CNN - November 2011

User generated stories in shardless worlds - Joystiq -March 2009

Writing

Nier: Automata – True Kindness in Games Requires Sacrifice - February 2018

The Future of Retail and the Blockbuster Myth - March 2010

Analysis: Inside Brazil's Video Game Ecosystem - January 2010

The Lion's Gate: Majors and Indie Publishing - November 2009

Video Game Planning: Stay Frosty - September 2009

Ludus Florentis: the Flowering of Games - August 2009

On the Casual/Core Game Development Divide - July 2009

Mother Theresa Or Hitler? Designing for Ambiguous Moral Choice - July 2009

How to Tackle Work for Hire - June 2009

Designing a 'Single Server' MMORPG - May 2009

Redefining Casual for the Hardcore - April 2009

The Problem of Choice - April 2009

Analysis: Secret Languages in Game Playing - March 2009

The Law of the Land for Game Writing - April 2008

The GDC Survival Guide - February 2008

Thematic Power - January 2008

Playing to Learn - December 2007

Game Design: The Bifurcated Mind - August 2007

The Importance of Risk in Basic Game Design - September 2006

Books (Cited in)

Gaming Globally: Production, Play, and Place 

Game Development Essentials: Game Story & Character Development

From Elvish to Klingon: Exploring Invented Languages

Books (Published)

A Dreamer's Tales, by Lord Dunsany

Speaking Engagements  

  • GDC
  • SXSW
  • Penny Arcade Expo
  • Penny Arcade Expo East
  • PAX Dev
  • Konsoll
  • Dev Hour
  • Emerging Media Conference
  • Games and Education Symposium
  • MAGFest
  • CCSSO

Work at Carnegie-Mellon

Student Postmortem - Carnegie Mellon's Northrop Grumman Recruitment Game - June 2007

Student Postmortem - Carnegie Mellon's Beowulf's Barroom BrawlDecember 2006