Logo: University of Southern California

Spring '07 GamePipe Demo Day Shines

Students show off their stuff for industry reps — and win internships

May 25, 2007 —

GamePipe director Mike Zyda
The USC GamePipe Laboratory's fourth Demo Day May 8 attracted its usual capacity crowd to the lab's Tutor Hall facility, and was, once again, the best ever.

It was not just USC faculty and staff who were applauding. "The USC GamePipe program is the best out there," wrote one of the industry attendees, from Activision. "CMU is close in comparison but GamePipe is better than Guildhall and the strongest technically in the world."

Students showed off creations with names like Bejeweled, StarQuake, Gunpowder, Assembly Force, Euphonics, Cirque de Slay, and Drum God; and also revisited games first shown at the last GamePipe demo, such as Death March of the Penguins, Bushido Beat and Motorball.

Not just grades and bragging rights were at stake for the students, many of whom pulled all-nighters preparing for the demos.  Industry representatives from Sony Online Entertainment, EA-Mobile, LA, Activision, THQ, Digital Domain, Seven Studios, Dassault, iSportGames, Lockheed Martin, Disney - Animation, Interactive, & VR Studios, Emsense, Kotrala, Motorola, Northrup Grumman, Lucas Arts, and Pandemic were there looking for talent for summer interns, or even new employees.

No fewer than 18 of the students landed internships. "Thanks for letting me sit in the other day," one of the reps emailed GamePipe Director Mike Zyda. "It was really awesome to see your students' skill and enthusiasm first hand."

GamePipe creative director Victor LaCour
Another representative was in town to check up on the progress of a project.  Sandia National Laboratories had commissioned  a 'serious game'  from GamePipe as a training tool for emergency response. The demo signaled a major milestone for the beta prototype, as it summed up two months of design and three months of production by a student team working under GamePipe artistic director Victor LaCour.

Looking on with smiles was computer science chair Gérard Medioni. The GamePipe curriculum, leading to newly approved B.S. and M.S. degrees in CS with gaming specialization, has proven extraordinarily popular, he told a reporter covering the event for CNet news.  [Read the entire story, "At USC, developing game coders"]

"In a single year, since the introduction of two new computer science degrees, one in games and one in business, the engineering school has seen its computer science department's enrollment double."

The USC Viterbi School of Engineering's Game Development degree program is now the largest game engineering-focused program in the world. As Medioni told the CNet reporter, "no other university in the country can offer students interested in studying video games access to such a combination of highly related interactive and computer-science programs."

The mission of the GamePipe Laboratory is interdisciplinary research, development and education on technologies and design for the future of interactive games and their application - from developing the supporting technologies for increasing the complexity and innovation in produced games, to developing serious and entertainment games for government and corporate sponsors.

Games students like these landed internships.  To see more photos, click on image. All photos by Fred Zyda.