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March 10, 2011

Replay: Game Developers Conference 2011

IMD has landmark year in San Francisco

Students, faculty and alumni from SCA’s Interactive Media Division joined a record-setting audience of 19,000 for the 25th edition of the Game Developers Conference (GDC), held at San Francisco’s Moscone Convention Center. The five-day conference, which featured over 450 panels, lectures and discussions, several of which were led by IMD/USC faculty or alums, is the largest and longest event of its kind.

Jeremy Gibson and Paul Bellezza at the 2011 GDC

“It was wonderful to see the tremendous level of participation by IMD faculty, students and alumni at GDC,” said IMD professor Tracy Fullerton. “The sheer number of speakers, nominees, advisors and volunteers from IMD this year is a testament to how far we've come as a program. It speaks to our involvement in and commitment to growing and diversifying the industry.”

The Cat and the Coup, designed by IMD faculty member Peter Brinson and Kurosh ValaJenad, was nominated in the Independent Games Festival Nuovo category. Alumna Kellee Santiago ‘06 won in the Business category of the Microsoft Women in Games Awards, which also nominated Jen Hollcroft in the Design Category.

The International Game Developers Association (IGDA) announced that USC would be the charter member of the IGDA’s Education Connection Program, which would provide USC faculty and students full access to annual IGDA education programs, intercollegiate collaborative efforts, content and webinars. Additionally, USC faculty will receive passes to the inaugural IGDA summit in 2011, as well as to the IGDA Leadership Forums, held in Los Angeles and Copenhagen.

The IGDA also awarded scholarships to IMD students Samantha Vick and Sanghee Oh. The IGDA scholarship consists of an all-access pass to the GDC, and pairing with an industry mentor.

“At first, I didn't fully believe that I had gotten the scholarship, even after I received the call,” said Vick. “It's such an honor to get one of these scholarships, and it opened up the conference to me in a way that I couldn't have believed. I was able to tour several studios in the San Francisco area, including my all-time favorite studio, DoubleFine. I got hardly any sleep all week, but it was such an amazing experience that I didn't even notice.”

In addition to Fullerton’s participation on the Education Summit Board of Advisors, and in the panels, “Collaboration Across Disciplines and Programs,” and “Building and Growing a Game Lab,” other highlights of the conference that featured IMD faculty and staff included:

  • “Edu to Indy: Teaching Students Self-Reliance” - Jeremy Gibson and Paul Bellezza, as part of the Education Summit
  • “Game Design Challenge: Bigger Than Jesus” – Jenova Chen
  • “Rapid Fire Indies” – Andre Clark, as part of the Indie Games Summit
  • “Indie Fund: Lessons From the First Year” – Kellee Santiago
  • “GameJamification”– Chris Swain, as part of the Serious Games Summit
  • Ninja demonstration – Asher Vollmer and Mihir Sheth (from Viterbi School of Engineering), as part of the Experimental Gameplay Sessions