Christopher Swain, B.A.
Research Associate Professor
Director, USC Games Institute
Work Phone: 310.403.0798
Office: SCA 202
Chris Swain is a research associate professor at the School of Cinematic Arts and a technology entrepreneur. He has founded two consumer internet companies. The first, Talkie, created the online game Ecotopia which is a social game about saving the planet. The second, Cred.fm, is the game you play by sharing the music you love.
Early in his career Swain was a founding member of the strategic design firm R/GA Interactive in New York. During Swain's six-year tenure, R/GA skyrocketed from start-up to major player in the industry, with a team of nearly 100 designers, programmers, and producers. He also led the creation of more than 150 interactive products for clients including Microsoft, Disney, Sony, Warner Brothers, Discovery Channel, BBC, PBS, AT&T, Intel, IBM and many others. His notable game projects at R/GA include the world's first massively multiplayer casual game, NetWits, an award-winning original IP Swain sold to the Microsoft Network; Multiplayer Jeopardy!; andMultiplayer Wheel of Fortune. The "Jeopardy!" and "Wheel of Fortune" games were landmark hits for Sony Online that helped establish the then new, business of online casual games. While at R/GA, Swain won more than a dozen design awards for his work on behalf of the company and its clients.
In 1999 Swain was a founding member and VP of Programming for the technology/game company Spiderdance, Inc., which created technology and creative programming for mass-audience online games that synchronized with television broadcasts. Spiderdance TV and online shows included webRIOT for MTV, Weakest Link Interactive for NBC and History IQ for The History Channel. In addition Spiderdance built TV/online shows for The WB, TBS, and Game Show Network.
At USC, Swain co-founded the Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab and, later directed the USC Games Institute. He specializes in original system design and new kinds of play and he has been a pioneer in establishing the utility of games for purposes beyond entertainment. His research has been funded by National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, United States Army, National Counter Terrorism Center, Rockefeller Foundation, Los Angeles Times , Annenberg Center for Communications and others. His project, The Redistricting Game , is a staple in the redistricting reform community and is featured regularly in the national media.
Swain served on the Board of Directors for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences (Emmys) from 2000-2004, and he regularly speaks about games to the press and at conferences worldwide.