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GamePipe Demo Day #12: The Hits Keep Coming

Students show media and industry reps why USC is ranked #1 in academic game programs

May 11, 2011 —

In the wide spaces of Bovard Auditorium, participants in the Viterbi School's student game creation workshop showed their impressive Spring Semester wares to an auditorium full of industry reps.

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GamePipe Director Mike Zyda answers a KPCC reporter's questions
Every spring and fall since 2006, the GamePipe Laboratory has presented a Demo Day showcasing student interactive entertainment production for industry representatives. The 12th in this series took place May 4, 2011 – and measured up to what has become a grand Viterbi School tradition.

Expectations were high: for the second year in a row, the Princeton Review has designated USC’s academic gaming degree programs as the nation’s top in the field. “We have gone from no program at all at the start of 2006 to being number one in the world in 2011,” noted GamePipe director Mike Zyda.

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Onstage at Bovard, thanking a sponsor

The program included games such as "Mother Nature - use your body to give birth to beauty!" "Paradox Shift - which is a first person puzzle action game where players can instantly shift themselves and tag objects back and forth between two time periods," and "Dance Pad - perform, create, and share iconic dance moves using your fingers." (See complete schedule here).

The audience, including representatives from Electronic Arts, Activision, Microsoft Game Studios, Intel, Zynga, Bally Technologies, Konami, Wild Needle, Bungie, Rock Software, Happynin Games, Intrinsic Games, Sony, Disney, Heavy Iron, THQ, Aielo, LucasArts, LucasFilm, Google, Blizzard and Creative Artists Agency, were impressed with what they saw. Zyda said that at least three games were being considered for acquisition, and numerous students were bound for internships and positions in the game industry.

Media came as well; see links to coverage below.

The venue was new. Ten of the previous Demo Days took place in the cramped confines of the classroom in Ronald Tutor Hall. The 11th, in Fall 2010, was in the Tutor Campus Forum - bigger, but still not big enough. "Bovard Auditorium was a packed venue!" said Zyda. "We had 500 filled seats and it looks like we will need the balconies at our next Demo Day! An absolutely wonderful facility that showed off our students' games fantastically."

Demoed game: one of many at the program

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Fair game: discussions over lunch
The next step for many of the demonstrators was the May 13 USC commencement, at which 29 Viterbi undergraduates received B.S. degrees in computer science with an emphasis in games; and 12 computer science M.S. degrees in games were also awarded.

And, "in 2012 we look forward to a wondrous set of games built by our extremely talented and passionate students," said Zyda. 

Including, perhaps, the appearance of games, demonstrated at Demo Day 12, in highly visible national settings, such as the White House, for example. That is where judges chose “Trainer,” a game aimed at encouraging children to exercise that was first demonstrated at a 2009 Demo Day,  from nearly 100 entries to win the top prize in Michelle Obama’s “Apps for Healthy Kids” competition.



GamePipe in the news. Click on the images to access the stories.