Travel Tweaks readers met Jordan Magnuson about a month and a half ago, when news of his plan to go on a trip around the world and document it by developing travel inspired games was spread on the Internet. After publishing the news here, I exchanged a few emails with Jordan. While I personally discovered a kind, fun and interesting person, this interview seemed a must, as every person out there interested in travel, games, learning experiences and pushing common boundaries should definitely find out more about Jordan and his courageous project!
Travel Tweaks: Jordan, let’s start with a few things about yourself. How would you describe yourself outside your work?
Jordan Magnuson: Well, most people notice immediately that I’m fairly tall… about 6-foot, 7-inches. For whatever that’s worth. I’m a curious generalist, and interested in far too many things… I changed my major several times in college, and ended up studying a little bit of everything, from physics (the degree I ended up with) to philosophy, computer science, math, history, literature, film, writing, art history, drawing, photography, and more. I’m especially interested in studying things in a holistic way, and understanding how different ideas and fields overlap and interact.
I also enjoy sports, and being out of doors. I need a balance of mental and physical activity to keep me healthy and engaged… at present, I probably spend a bit too much time in front of my computer, making games, and doing web design.
What else? I like good movies, reading aloud, German board games, spicy cuisine, juggling for fun, and long, empty beaches. And I have a rabbit that lives in the house.
TT: Which came first, the love for travel or the love for games and game developing?
JM: A tough question to answer. I grew up overseas, and my family traveled a lot. It was just something we did, but also something I always enjoyed… it sort of became part of me, growing up. So that might have come first. But I’ve been interested in games and game development ever since I played my first board game, so that followed soon after.
TT: What gave you the idea to mix travel and games developing in a new form of ‘travel writing’?
JM: Like I said, I’m always interested in where different ideas or fields or activities overlap, or where they might overlap. I’m always interested in pushing the boundaries of what’s been done, and trying something new. Being interested in both travel and game design, it was only ever a matter of time before I wanted to put the two together.
More concretely, computer games are a very new and exciting medium, in my eyes… I’m constantly pondering how they might be stretched, or made new. When I visited Freedom Bridge in the Korean DMZ, I thought… why not make a game about this?
TT: Prior to your trip around the world plan, you had already developed travel inspired games. Can you tell us more about them?
JM: As I was just saying, Freedom Bridge was sort of the tipping point… after living in Korea for a year, it was a moving experience to visit the bridge, and I found myself wanting to express that visit in some way. It was then that it struck me, how we have travel writing and travel documentaries, etc., but nothing like that in the game world. Why not “travel gaming?” Why not interactive creations that express something about the experience of traveling, seeing new places?