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August 31, 2016

Building the Bridge from Conceptual Games to Game Design Company

By Gabrielle Cohen

The USC Games Bridge Program was launched in summer 2015 to aid students in the process of developing their games into full-fledged companies. The companies are then pitched to venture capitalists and game publishers with the hopes of investment or acquisition. The Bridge offers legal and business mentorship from top video games industry professionals and is offers its students full ownership of their company without taking any personal interest. The only exception is if a game makes at least $500,000, in which case one percent goes back to USC Games to re-fund the Bridge program for future cohorts.

A first of its kind initiative, the USC Games Bridge program is led by Gordon Bellamy and Samuel Roberts., Bellamy is the former executive director of the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences and the International Game Developers Association. Roberts is a founding director of the IndieCade festival and a founding partner of Codename Games and also works at the Program Manager for USC Games. In describing the Bridge Program’s importance, Bellamy says, its most exciting aspect “is leveraging our resources and relationships to help our best and brightest own their creativity and create jobs for others.” He said the students’ pride at having a completed commercial game is also part of the reward. “There is a valuable and discernible confidence and conviction that comes with completing games.”

The project leaders of this year’s Bridge class include Yuting Su, Keenan Mosimann, Tom Sims, Adam Kauper, and Sean Wejebe. Here’s a brief overview of their projects:

Yuting Su is the creative director of Octobo, a reactive plush octopus toy that comes with a storybook, tablet display, and soft sensors throughout his body. Octobo is changing the family story time experience, making it more hands-on and magical. As parents read the story with their children, they will be able to discover Octobo’s wishes, experience his world, and interact with him emotionally. The game is both a physical and empathetic experience.

Keenan Mosimann, also known as a million-view influencer ‘Criken’ on YouTube and Twitch.tv is the director of I.C.U, a first-person interactive horror game. The game is set on a dystopian reality TV show where the player is a contestant and the audience is actual viewers on Twitch.tv. As the game show offers horrific scenarios for the player, the audience aids by triggering events to help the player survive the horrors of I.C.U. Mosimann’s experience as an internet personality and the fact that he has grown up with his online viewers inspired the design of I.C.U, an interesting reactive experience.

Tom Sims and Adam Kauper are game directors of “Adelie and the Obelisk”, a challenging 2.5D “penguin platformer” game of swimming, sliding, and sprinting through primitive wilderness, all while combating fantastic creatures with a goal of restoring light tp a world solely ruled by night. The game combines penguins, elements of magic, and an unlikely hero’s quest to restore peace to his homeland. The game is being developed by students from both USC and Otis College of Art and Design.