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Grab a Controller and Play

At the 6th annual Demo Day, students of the No. 1 ranked video game program showcase their work
By: Katie McKissick
May 14, 2013 —

Every year in May, students in the USC Games program have a chance to showcase the product of a year’s worth of painstaking work—their very own video game. This cross-disciplinary program brings together the USC Viterbi School of Engineering’s Computer Science Department and the Interactive Media and Games Division from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

USC Games is led by a powerhouse team of industry experts: Michael Zyda, USC Viterbi Professor of Engineering Practice and Director of the USC GamePipe Laboratory; Tracy Fullerton, USC Cinematic Arts Professor and Director of the Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab; Scott Easley, Associate Director of the USC GamePipe Laboratory; and Laird Malamed, USC Cinematic Arts Adjunct Professor and COO of Oculus VR, Inc.

Demo Day for Spring 2013 was Tuesday, May 14 from 2:30 to 5:30 p.m. in USC’s Norris Theater, followed by live demonstrations in the SCA Building's "The Gallery" space. The games built in this year's program that were showcased include ScrapyardProject HolodeckCore OverloadHomewardHouse of CardsThralledConclave, and Outer Wilds

Watch a preview of Scrap Yard

One year ago, these same students presented their video game concepts to a panel of judges who selected eight teams from the 13 that presented. Those eight teams spent the next 12 months building their games from the ground up. The full scope of the game production process is embedded in the program, including building 3D models, motion capture, game animation, engine development, prototype development and marketing. Because of the top-notch curriculum, faculty and facilities, "Princeton Review" has rated USC the No. 1 game design graduate program in North America for the last four years.

Demo Day is not just about showing off games to professors and fellow students. This event is well attended by a slew of game production companies, including Activision, Blizzard, Electronic Arts, Sony Computer Entertainment, Disney Interactive, LucasArts, Microsoft and Google, just to name a few. Many of the students in this program have jobs lined up after graduation specifically because of the industry exposure they received as a result of the USC Games program.

While this year’s Demo Day marks the end for this cohort of USC Games students, just recently on April 26, the next batch of student video game designers presented their ideas to earn one of the highly coveted spots in the next 12-month program. Like in the video game Scrapyard, the end of one round is just the start of the next.