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EA Endows Professorship, Funds Program at USC

by Jonathan Metts - September 14, 2004, 9:30 am PDT
Total comments: 6 Source: EA Press Release

Electronic Arts and the University of Southern California are teaming up to make game development a serious academic pursuit.

EA and the USC School of Cinema-Television Celebrate the Grand Opening of the EA Interactive Entertainment Program and EA Game Innovation Lab

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Sept. 14, 2004--Electronic Arts (Nasdaq:ERTS) and the USC School of Cinema-Television today unveiled the EA Game Innovation Lab at USC's Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts. Scheduled to attend an event marking the occasion are Elizabeth Daley, Dean, School of Cinema-Television, Don Mattrick, President of EA Worldwide Studios, Rusty Rueff, Executive Vice President of Human Resources at EA and filmmaker Robert Zemeckis.

The EA Game Innovation Lab, based in the Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts, is a state-of-the-art research space and think tank where new concepts in game design, play, and usability are developed, prototyped, and play-tested. Lab users will push games beyond the currently defined genres, markets, and play patterns, creating a body of knowledge about players, games, and game playing that is informing the next generation of software and hardware.

"USC has always been on the cutting edge of entertainment education and now is home to a world class program that will help train talented people for careers in interactive entertainment," said Don Mattrick, President, Worldwide Studios, Electronic Arts. "This is the perfect marriage of creative leadership that will empower young storytellers to express themselves in a new medium."

"EA's decision to invest in the future of interactive media education at the USC School of Cinema-Television is advancing a 75-year tradition of bold, experimental thinking about storytelling," said Daley. "And I can think of no more fitting time than the School's diamond anniversary year to launch this groundbreaking new partnership."

On March 22, 2004, EA announced a multi-million dollar donation to the USC School of Cinema-Television to advance interactive entertainment education by creating a launch pad for the next generation of game designers. The historic contribution is part of EA's global educational and talent development effort. The gift will help fund a 3-year Master of Fine Arts program within the School's Division of Interactive Media. With this forward-thinking contribution, the School will grow its efforts to graduate visionary thinkers who have a deep understanding of the many facets of interactive entertainment.

The creation of the Electronic Arts Endowed Faculty Chair -- the first-ever endowed chair at a university for the study of electronic gaming and interactive entertainment -- will enable the School to meet the intensifying demand for talented game developers who are solidly grounded in story and content. It also will help bring some of the game industry's top talent to USC as educators, while drawing top student candidates from home and abroad to learn one-on-one from these experts. EA will name an executive to serve in this post in the coming weeks.


Ian SaneSeptember 14, 2004

EA Game Innovation Lab? HA HA HA HA! The only time "innovation" and "EA" go together is for sentences like "EA games lack innovation" or "EA used to be about innovation... during the Genesis days".

Seriously though having EA having anything to do with education sucks. I don't want their corporate sell out attitude being spread to new game developers.

rholderSeptember 14, 2004

Yes, Ian, I agree in the sense that EA hasn't innovated that much...

But isn't the creation of a program such as that (even sponsored by EA) better than no program at all? Having some sort of professional level schooling specifically designed for game dev is better than none...

dragerSeptember 14, 2004

The innovation lab is pretty cool actually. Lots of motion recognition demos (like putting your hand out and catching a falling snowflake on the screen) and stuff going on.

I wish I had been able to stay at the event, but I needed to get to class. Speilberg and Zemeckis were there, which was pretty cool. I snagged a couple of brochures for the event... might upload some pictures of those later.

KDR_11kSeptember 14, 2004

EA was known for their innovative games... back when a C64 was considered "State of the art".

DjunknownSeptember 15, 2004

I highly doubt this will replace a passionate programmer or designer,artist etc. who hasn't gone through formal schooling. At least, not anytime soon. Maybe if they did something on responsible publishing....

*waits for the jokes*

Remember good Ol' Nintendo is already doing something similiar to this with Digipen I believe. Did those guys make anything else beside 1080 Avalance BTW?

KDR_11kSeptember 15, 2004

As every industry professional will tell you: If you got the skills, you don't need a degree, if you haven't got the skills, no degree is gonna save you.

EA apparently hopes they can get people who will work for low wages and accept crunch as "given". They've told their employees that they're going to do a big college hiring soon. Well, I have a feeling we're going to see an impact on the quality of their games as a result.

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