At this year’s G4C Festival, Tracy Fullerton, head of the Games Innovation Lab and Lishan AZ, a 2017 graduate of USC’s Interactive Entertainment MFA program, received awards for their unique games on social justice issues and conscious, meditative living. They were recognized by the festival host, Games for Change, an organization with a history of promoting games that not only entertain, but also impact society through education, healthcare and social justice issues. Fullerton’s game received the Game of the Year and Most Significant Impact award from the festival. In Walden, a game, Fullerton challenges players to survive Thoreau’s first year in the wilderness and find a balance between survival and seeking out the beauty of nature. The game asks players to create their own narrative and experience. Unlike many mainstream games that deliver a cultivated, game experience — it is up to the player to find beauty. “It’s really an honor to be recognized for a game that subverts the idea of gaming,” said Manolo Rosenberg, QA on Walden, a game. Additionally, AZ’s Tracking Ida, recipient of the Best Gameplay award, educates players on Ida B. Wells’s investigative journalism surrounding lynching during the 1890s. Players roleplay as investigative journalists, solve puzzles, and use social media to spread awareness of racial oppression. Both Tracking Ida and Walden, a game, deliver unique experiences to players that do more than entertain. Players see life in a new fashion by the end of their play and are encouraged to take their new perspective to impact their communities in a positive way. USC Games is proud to support Lishan AZ and Tracy Fullerton as they impact the world through games. Visit and buy Walden, a game here Visit Tracking Ida here
USC Games and the LA Philharmonic invite students and young creatives to be one of only 75 participants in the inaugural Hack Music LA at the Walt Disney Concert Hall! A event co-sponsored by USC Games, several other USC schools and other organizations from around the LA area, Hack Music LA is a hackathon where teams of 3-4 to produce imaginative and innovative tools and experiences that “expand physical or emotional access to music, and in doing so, expand emotional access to others.” Exceptional teams will have the chance to win $2500 and the opportunity to continue development in collaboration with the LA Philharmonic through 2018/2019 or $1000 and mentorship from Kickstarter to help kickstart the project for future development. This will be an free overnight event for participants that will take place on the weekend of October 7th-8th. It includes a ticket to a performance in the Walt Disney Concert Hall on October 6th, room and board at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, and access to special panels, and guests. Applicants can apply as single individuals or partial teams of 2-3 members that will be fully assembled during the first hours of the hackathon. Applications are live and will be formally closed on September 10th, but will be also accepted on a rolling basis. Selected individuals will be informed September 16th. You can apply at www.hackmusicla.com We encourage students from across campus to apply, and explore what the future of music sounds like.
Platform: PC/Console Game Flow is a simulation game created by Jenova Chen and Nicholas Clark. It was originally released as a free flash game in 2006 as Jenova Chen’s master thesis project and received over 100,000 downloads within the first two weeks of its release. It has been played over 3.5 million times (as of 2008). It was reworked by Chen’s later company, Thatgamecompany, for release on the Playstation 3 in 2007. In Flow, the player plays as an aquatic microorganism that evolves by consuming other microorganisms across a series of two-dimensional planes representing a surreal biosphere and abyss. The game’s design is based on Chen’s research into dynamic difficulty adjustment and on psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s theoretical concept of mental immersion or flow. It has received multiple awards and has received widespread critical acclaim including being named Best Indie Games 2007 by Wired, becoming the number one downloaded PlayStation Network title in 2007, and receiving the Best Downloadable Game Award at GDC 2008. It is considered by many to be a work of art. FEATURES Wide range of gameplay from simply swimming around to strategical evolving and intensive fighting for survival Small risk, small reward; Big risk, big reward Control the balance between speed and turning leaves space for hardcore player to master. TEAM Xinghan “Jenova” Chen Nicholas Clark Download the game, and learn more about its development on Jenova Chen’s website!
Platform: PC Game Cloud is a puzzle game developed by a team of students including the renowned game designers Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago. The team began development of Cloud in January 2005 with a $20,000 grant from USC. The game was released as a free download that October. The game has had over 6 million visits, and the game has received over 60o,000 downloads. The game centers on a boy who dreams of flying while asleep in a hospital bed. The concept was partially based on lead designer Jenova Chen’s childhood; he was often hospitalized for asthma and would daydream while alone in his room. Assuming the role of the boy, the player flies through a dream world and manipulates clouds to solve puzzles. The game was intended to spark emotions in the player that the video game industry usually ignored. Cloud won the Best Student Philosophy award at the 2006 Slamdance Guerilla Games Competition, and a Student Showcase award at the 2006 Independent Games Festival. The game was well received by critics, who cited its visuals, music, and relaxing atmosphere as high points. Chen and producer Kellee Santiago went on to co-found the studio Thatgamecompany, which has considered remaking Cloud as a commercial video game. FEATURES Fly through the sky and explore a wonderous dream world! Feel the touching musical score and relaxing atmosphere. Play through the university project made by the designers that would become Thatgamecompany! TEAM Xinghan “Jenova” Chen – Production, Art and Game Design Erik Nelson – Engineering Glenn Song – Engineering and Writing Vincent Diamante – Writing, Music and SFX Stephen “Erin” Dinehart – Production and Print Design Kellee Santiago – Production, Writing and Print Design Aaron Meyers – Engineering Download the game, and learn more about its development on the game’s website!
This month, five USC Games students/alumni were named Forbes 30 Under 30 Class of 2017 in the category of Games. In celebration of their success, USC Games has asked our awardees to give insight into their response to the award, what their trajectory looks like, and how other students and developers can learn from their success. Lishan AZ A current MFA third-year student with the Interactive Media & Games Division, Lishan’s vibrant contributions to the program inspire her compatriots to push themselves to greater heights. Her second year project THE LOCKER – a physical storytelling experience wrapped in an escape room’s ideology – was a 2016 Indiecade Selection; Lishan also contributed to the Winteractive Selection DOWNTOWN BROWNS, an interactive webseries exploring the lives of WoC living in Los Angeles. What does it mean to you to be named a 30 Under 30? It feels great to give family something positive to call each other about. I think my mom’s reaction alone was enough to get me through the year–she literally told me (once she stopped shouting with excitement) “I have to call you back, I’m too happy to be on the phone right now.” Haha. On a more serious note, making the 30 Under 30 list is an encouraging sign that folks are seeing the work I do as relevant and valuable. I’m hoping that this exposure will help me continue to do the work that I believe is most important. What do you think has enabled you to succeed that can inspire other up-and-coming developers/designers/students? Find like-minded creators who will keep you sharp. I’m blessed to have met other designers and artists of color who are deeply engaged with social issues in their work. They inspire me, challenge me, and hold me accountable in unique ways because they understand where I’m coming from in my work. The people that will help you grow don’t always fall into your lap–be intentional about seeking out your peers, and make time to build with them on a regular basis. Even considering your recent recognition, what are the next challenges and goals that you will face as you grow even more into the future? I’m currently working on my MFA thesis project, Tracking Ida, which is inspired by the pioneering investigative journalism of Ida B. Wells in the 1890s. It’s an educational game that will launch in high school classrooms in Watts, Los Angeles this March. Players solve puzzles, comb through historical archives with the help of a phonograph, role-play as investigative journalists, and harness social media to spread awareness about an issue affecting their community today. I’ll be graduating this coming May, and am currently seeking funding to expand Tracking Ida and bring it to more classrooms next year. My goal is to create transformative experiences for education, discovery and social awareness. If people want to contact you or get a look at your work, how can they best connect with you? You can check out my work at itsLishan.com. I also recently joined twitter, hit … Read More