Students and faculty of the USC Games programs celebrated their annual day: National Video Games Day. Fifteen years before, most students might never have imagined that they would pursue video games as their future careers. However, the USC Games has offered degree programs in game design for fifteen years and helped its students become experts in their field.
“I love video games. I think it deserves its own day. I don’t know if it’s very widely celebrated,” said Amanda Postman, a 17-year-old female applicant for the USC Games B.A. program.
“Games has become part of human culture in this society for hundreds of year,” said Napoleon Martinez, a game developer and student who works in the USC Games office. “I think it is important to remember and to honor all the things we care about.”
According to student services advisor Collin Kelly, approximately 100 undergraduates and 60 graduates are majoring in the Interactive Media & Games Division programs. When adding the number of students who minor in their programs and people in the Viterbi’s Computer Science Game program, the USC Games population is close to 2,000.
“I like to call them the delightful weirdos,” Kelly said. “They’re the ones who aren’t dedicated to a specific program, but rather see the synergy between lots of different forms of entertainment.”
“I always love video games and cartoons,” Postman said. “The Video Games Design program is really interesting and is full of people like me.”
Stepping into the USC Games office, students can have their group meetings, discuss their favorite video games, or simply play the game models donated by Associate Professor Richard Lemarchand.
“If these just live in a box, they are toys,” Kelly said. “But you put them on a shelf like this, now they’re art that is interactive. You can still pick them up, but the interactivity is key, and that’s one of the most important things about our program.”
Kelly said that students own their IP and sometimes get funding from large organizations. Some of the USC Games graduates go on to work for AAA game companies as level designers, user researchers, producers, and writers. Some have even created their own game companies.
Asher Volmer, a graduate of the Interactive Media & Games Divisions, is currently the Game Designer for an independent development team named Sirvo. He was named as one of the 50 Admirable Gaming People of 2014.
Martinez said that the best way for him to celebrate the National Video Games Day is always to remember to bring what he cares about into the video games.
As an applicant, Postman said her goal is to translate her science fiction novel into a video game. Now, she may have the opportunity to hand on with technology and start her game design in the USC Games.