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October 22, 2012

Combiform “Connects” with SIGGRAPH Awards

Student-produced game from USC brings home award

Games are an important part of pop culture, an important part of the entertainment industry and an important part of the curriculum of the USC School of Cinematic Arts. If Combiform lead designer/IMD student Edmond Yee has anything to say about it, in the future, they will be a major way in which people interact. This year, at the 2012 SIGGRAPH Convention, Combiform was honored with the Best Demonstration in Emerging Technology Award for its unique approach to socializing, using video games.

A Combiform controller

Combiform is a combinable technology where several controllers link up. It’s a multiplayer controller,” said Yee. “It intended to pull the player away from the screen. It’s made to encourage social interaction. You are actually playing with the person next to you. You touch other people’s controller. If you can imagine the Wii or the Kinect and all of that, it’s a move toward social interaction but you’re still working in this box of staring at the screen. Combiform looks to change that.”

In one game designed for the Combiform, multiple Combiform players link controllers to create a tray in a cafe. In order to succeed, they have to move the four controllers without tilting them and spilling the drinks. The games are physical, collaborative and wildly innovative.

Combiform has been in the IMD program for a long time and Adjunct Faculty Laird Malamed believes the refining and willingness to take notes has been the key to Yee’s success.

“What’s unique about Combiform is that it went through the whole cycle of classes,” said Malamed. “IIt started in Intermediate Games, moved to Advanced Games and eventually became a thesis. They went through lots of feedback, lots of usability testing and finally out to the public. I think its success is because it’s so refined and Edmond [Yee] was so committed to working hard and improving his product.”

The SIGGRAPH convention is one of the world's premier conferences on computer graphics and interactive techniques. It was held at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Combiform was the School of Cinematic Arts’ first win in the Best Demonstration in Emerging Technology Category.

The Combiform team is currently looking to expand into the commercial world and is hoping that the recognition of the SIGGRAPH conference will help in their goal of taking Combiform public.

“This was a team effort,” said Yee. “I’d like to thank Andy Uehara, Andrew Dang and Josh Joiner from IMD, Tai An, Mu-Fan Wu, Jeff Ye and Rasik Srinath from Viterbi School of Engineering, Nathan Matthew David from Thornton School of Music, Michael Newman from the Production program at SCA , plus the many other people who have contributed to make Combiform what it is today.”

For more information, please visit: http://www.combiformgame.com/