March 2, 2018

Faculty Profile: Martzi Campos

Martzi Campos, an alumna of the School of Cinematic Arts and current designer at the school’s Game Innovation Lab discusses new developments in video game design, as well as the undergraduate courses she teaches at SCA.

What classes do you teach at SCA? I co- teach CTIN 488 Game Design Workshop and and the graduate level course CTIN 544 Experiments in Interactivity II. I also work in the Game Innovation Lab as a Designer and Producer. 

What inspired you to help lead the next generation at USC? I have always loved teaching, but it was the  wonderful experiences here as a graduate student,  the one on one attention  and the amazing support I received here  that made me realize what a special place USC is. While I was a student I was lucky enough to be a SA  in a few undergraduate classes. I saw first hand how well thought out  and effective the games curriculum can be. It’s an amazing environment to teach in, and our students are such hardworking and talented creators. They really are a joy to teach.

What are some of the most exciting recent developments in game design? The developments in Augmented Reality(AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) are very exciting, there are so many applications in both of these new technologies, even beyond gaming, and it wonderful to see so much innovating going on.  I am also so excited to see how interactivity in non-digital entertainment has been expanding as well. From Disney plans for the new Star Wars land to interactive theater and escape rooms, designers are creating entertainment experiences where people do more than passively observe, but instead become part of the story. 

What is something you hope students take from your class, into the career field they are going in? Collaboration and listening.   Interactive work by its nature requires working with and listening to other people, and understanding how people  can play the same experience differently is crucial to being a strong and thoughtful designer.  Writing rules and instructions is easy when you are the only one reading them,  but it's a lot harder to write something that makes sense to everybody. It's one of the first things we teach in the introductory game design course, how make instructions that everyone can understand, without that, you cant have people playing a game. 

What advice would you give to students aspiring to be game designers? Inspiration is all around you. Cultivate outside interests, because they will show you new systems to explore,  worlds to play in, and introduce you to new people to  collaborate with. 

Is there any media (film, television show, interactive experience) that you always recommend? Los Angeles is an amazing place for Escape Rooms and Interactive theater!  The Willows is a great immersive theater show happening right now, and if you can get down to Anaheim Crossroads escape rooms has some really innovative puzzles and design.

Do you have any projects you are currently working on? I have a few projects that I am working on at the Game Innovation Lab. Right now my focus is on helping  publish two of our games.  Chrono Scouts is an educational card game for middle school students about the causes of the revolutionary war, it  was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Life Underground is a video game for 7th and 8th graders about astrobiology funded by NASA. 
The games can both be found on the game innovation labs website