Police chief, game designer bring magic experience to current jobs

September 24th, 2012 | Joe Hadsall | Filed Under General

It never ceases to amaze us what a wide reach magic has. The art of illusion inspires so many different fields — it just goes to show that the time we spend reading, practicing and performing is never wasted.

Even though it shouldn’t amaze us, it still does. So many people put magic to dramatically different uses, from video game design to police work.

Magic shows up everywhere.

Here’s a scattering of ways that we’ve found over the last few days:

Greg Finch is the chief of police in Campbell, Calif. His job is to oversee a department of 41 officers and 28 other staff members, in order to protect his city’s citizens. But he’s found the time to work his love of magic into his job.

Every chief is expected to make some public appearances, and Finch comes through in spades. Specializing in parlor and other small-audience tricks, he performs for school assemblies, community events and other special shows.

And he goes beyond just doing tricks — he has a reputation for bringing a great sense of humor into his magic. In other words, people want to see HIM, not magic tricks.

Finch is able to keep his magic separate from his job. But it’s a part of him, and will always be. He even has plans for when he’s no longer on the force, including taking a stab at Vegas:

“I am the chief 24/7, and I think it’s fine to be entertaining, but I don’t get out of character. I’m a chief doing magic, and later I’ll be a magician who used to be a chief.”

Randy Pitchford, president of Gearbox Software, credits his experience as a magician for teaching him how to design video games. The company is behind games such as “Half-Life,” “Duke Nukem Forever” and “Borderlands.”

Pitchford is an alumnus of the Magic Castle and a former stage magician. And he said that game developers and magicians have a lot in common, including the need to get in someone’s head:

“Just come with me, trust me, come along with where I’m going to lead you, and if you follow my line of logic … there will be a pay-off, there will be a reward.”

One big difference that he notices, however, comes from audience reaction. Pitchford knows instantly whether a trick goes over well or not. But a level, a new game mechanic or even an entire project goes for months without a lick of feedback.

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