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Sports

October 24, 2006

Schilling teaches MIT a thing or two

CAMBRIDGE - This much I knew heading to Building No. 10 on the campus of MIT last night - there was a strong chance my computer would be able to pick up a wireless internet signal. After that, however, the evening's outcome was anybody's guess.

In the world of Red Sox-less baseball, the school befitting the brilliant helped host the scene for the only must-see event in town (at least in my mind), that of Curt Schilling speaking to a room of 200 computer-obsessed geniuses (once again, at least in my mind).

All you have to realize is that in the entire classroom there was one person wearing a Red Sox hat. One!

Forget facing Derek Jeter with the bases loaded and nobody out. If Schilling came away from this two-hour showdown intact, whatever legend he had already built would surely go up at least one level. This wasn't Fenway Park, it was MIT. This wasn't a pitcher's mound, it was a table full of CEOs, CFOs, and general managers from places like Etherplay Premium Games, the Utix Group, and Nephin Games.

Most importantly, this wasn't anything remotely baseball-related. It was MIT's Enterprise Forum of Cambridge most recent symposium - Tomorrow's Games: Mobile, Casual, and Massively-Multiplayer Online Games.

As I sat in the furthest reaches of the auditorium, I looked down at Schilling at approximately the same angle I usually view him from the Fenway press box, but hardly in the same light. Two years ago, to the day, he was delivering an air of confidence while leading the Red Sox to a Game 2 World Series victory over St. Louis. This night, he seemed more like the rookie nobody knows quite what to make of.

That would change in a hurry.

There Schilling sat, wearing a gray suit jacket with a black shirt underneath, showing no signs of his baseball-playing profession other than the blue wrist band many of the Red Sox took to wearing in honor of Jon Lester, the teammate who continues to undergo treatment for cancer. As the eclectic crowd (I had a patent lawyer sit next to me) settled in, the Boston hurler made idle chatter with one of his fellow speakers, Jason Booth, the technical designer for Harmonix Music Systems who was there to talk about a game designer's overview of massively-multiplayer online games. Pitch-count discussions would clearly have to wait for another day.

Up to the podium came a relatively normal looking man (a description used for those reading this with preconceived notions of this kind of gathering) named Dan Scherlis. He subsequently introduced the night's first speaker, a man he referred to as a "rookie CEO" and someone who was helping bring the "nerd quotient down," the founder and president of the newly-formed Green Monster Games, Curt Schilling.

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