Bruce Campbell Shelley began his games career testing war board games by mail for free. Simulations Publications soon provided him with his first job as a professional game designer in the summer of 1981. Shelley joined Avalon Hill in 1982, where he developed board games such as 1830: The Game of Railroads and Robber Barons and Titan. In 1987, Avalon Hill prompted Shelley to switch his focus from board games to computer games. Shelley worked alongside Sid Meier and Andy Hollis at MicroProse Software Inc., learning the philosophy of game design; there, Shelley co-designed Railroad Tycoon (1990) and Civilization (1991) —the games for which he is best known.
Shelley started at Ensemble Studios in 1995, joining two fellow gamers he knew from college. As Senior Designer at Ensemble, Shelley helped to structure the company and influenced the development methodology. He contributed to Age of Empires (1997) and Age of Empires II: Age of Kings (1999), real-time action games with historical depth. Shelley moved to Zynga in 2009 as a Senior Design Director on CastleVille (2011) alongside Brian Reynolds and Dave Pottinger. As of 2017, Shelley continues to be active in the gaming community.
Shelley’s methodologies in developing games include targeting broad audiences, working with prototypes early in the process, keeping the development process fun and fast-paced, drawing inspiration from existing games, and focusing on creating an enjoyable, quality, and best-selling game. His accomplishments include being inducted into the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame in 2008 as well as being elected to its Board of Directors.