Maxwell Winston has played video games from a lot of different eras and has seen everything the industry has to offer. Now the avid video game and software collector wants to create his own games and leave his own legacy.

“After you’ve played games for a while, you start to recognize certain patterns and ideas,” Winston said. “I want to reinvent basic ideas to make people interested in my games. I want to have a hook. I feel like the best games I’ve ever played have taken a simple idea and changed it in a really unique way.”

To fulfill his lofty ambitions, Winston is coming to Illinois State University. A Bloomington native, Winston has always been interested in studying at the campus that is such a major presence in his community.

“I took a tour in my sophomore year of high school and was really impressed by the campus,” Winston said. “It was like, ‘I’d really like to go here.’”

His passion for gaming makes him a natural fit for the game design sequence in the Creative Technologies program at Illinois State. His favorite game and one of the highlights of his collection is Mother 3, an obscure game released exclusively in Japan in 2006. One of the rarest items he owns is the Virtual Boy, an early virtual reality console released by Nintendo that is best known as an infamous commercial and critical failure.

Even though it is remembered as a curiosity at best by the broader gaming community, it is a beloved part of Winston’s collection. For him, the Virtual Boy’s experimental nature is something to be celebrated.

“I look at the little parts of games and fixate on how they work out,” he said. “I don’t hate any game. Every game I play I find something I enjoy about it.”

He also owns a R.O.B., a robot peripheral for the original Nintendo Entertainment System launched in 1985. The one he purchased was not in the best shape, so he got some extra help to get it back in working order.

“The thing I like most about the R.O.B. is the experience I had with my dad repairing it and refurbishing it,” Winston said. “That’s a really good memory.”

Winston plans to get involved with the gaming clubs at Illinois State and is excited to meet students who share his love for games and gaming culture. He also loves to express his creativity through drawing and filmmaking and is looking to find groups to share those hobbies with.

Above everything, Winston is looking forward to getting his game design studies started and proving that he has what it takes to be the next great game designer.

“I want to work hard to really prove myself,” he said. “I chose Illinois State because I have a passion for working harder.”

Read about all of the students featured in our “Newest Redbirds” series at