More is Better: “Why Designers Should Care About Metrics”

Laralyn McWilliams’ talk on metrics and games argued persuasively for how the latter should be informed by intelligent, measured interpretation of the former. McWilliams used her extensive experience with Free Realms, and her management of what could be mined for data and how that data would then be interpreted, to convince her audience that metrics should never be ignored, and that the designer who ignored them would be weaponless in the face of business (and ultimately, design) decisions made by non-designers. (more…)

Prototyping All the Time – “Small Steps in the Dark: Embracing the Continuous Prototyping Mindset”

At the end of GDC (Friday, that is), I was incredibly tired. I decided that I would see one last talk before heading out. I went to see “Small Steps in the Dark: Embracing the Continuous Prototyping Mindset,” given by Tim Ambrogi, one of the three members of Final Form Games, the team that made the co-operative SHMUP Jamestown. (more…)


Jason VandenBerghe – The 5 Domains of Play: Applying Psychology’s Big 5 Motivation Domains to Games

To say I was skeptical entering Jason VandenBerghe’s talk on the psychology of play would be a bit of an understatement.  Truth be told, had I not run into a friend who knew about it, I would have attended a completely different lecture that was occurring at the same time. It wasn’t that I was uninterested in the topic of the talk, I very much was. However, when it comes to analyzing things like “play,” I’ve come to expect a whole lot of theoretical pontificating and guessing without much data that is clearly useful. Thankfully, my compatriot was able to steer me in the right direction and I sat down for what turned out to be by far my favorite and most enlightening talk of the conference.


Our GDC "Creation"

GDC Experience: iam8bit presents Super Magnetic Game-O-Matic

Our GDC "Creation"


My inaugural trip to GDC was filled with numerous exciting and enlightening moments. The talks I attended were far beyond anything I could have expected, and left me with a renewed sense of vigor and tenacity towards for my field of study. However, one of the most rewarding experiences I had at the conference, or at least one of the most fun, came outside of the lecture hall in the form of iam8bit’s “Super Magnetic Game-O-Matic.”


CTIN 511 schedule for spring 2012

Here’s the CTIN 511 speaker schedule for spring 2012:
1/12  Kim Moses/Ian Sander
1/18  Jeff Watson
1/25  Munehiko Sato
2/1   Howard Marks
2/8   IMD 2.0  (Bolas, Anderson, Fisher)
2/15  Pecha Kuchas
2/22  Pecha Kuchas
2/29  Rick Thompson  (@ sca 110)
3/7   GDC week  small class/dinner
3/14  Spring Break  (no class)
3/21  Joseph Joy, Microsoft Research
3/28  Kevin Bachus,
4/4   Bruno Uzzan,  Total Immersion
4/11 Rachel Strickland and Jim McKee
4/18  Tali Krakowsky, Apologue, Inc.
4/25  Chris Dewolfe, Mindjolt and Myspace co-founder.

Also please note:

– This week’s speaker (2/29) will be in SCA 110.

– For all who are attending GDC next week, email me to let me know you will miss class.  Here’s your makeup assignment for that week:
Write at least TWO detailed, comprehensive, and well thought-out reviews of things you are experiencing at GDC (eg lectures, keynote, IGF demo, BOF gathering, etc.) .
Pictures and any other doc encouraged!  Your audience is those of us who are not able to attend, so pick something we can learn about remotely through your eyes.
Post them to the IMD blog (your account and/or main page – your choice) by end of that week (midnight Sunday, 3/11).

Rick Thompson

IMD Forum for 2/29/12: Rick Thompson


Speaker:     Rick Thompson, Investor and Entrepreneur
Time:           Wednesday, February 29 , 6-8pm
USC School of Cinematic Arts,
Fanny Brice Theatre: Room SCA 110    [ PLEASE NOTE NEW LOCATION]

Rick Thompson is the most active investor in social and mobile gaming, with a portfolio that includes Cie Studios, Funzio, Idle Games, Iddiction, Red Robot, Rumble Entertainment and Wild Needle.

Previously Rick co-founded Playdom (acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2010), Adify (acquired by Cox in 2008) and Flycast (IPO in 1999 and acquired by CMGI in 2000).  Rick was part of the founding team of Octel (IPO in 1987 and sold to Lucent in 1997).   Rick received an AB from UC, Santa Cruz and an MBA from the Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania.

howard marks

IMD Forum for 2/1/12: Howard Marks

Speaker: Howard Marks
Time:      Wednesday, February 1 , 6-8pm
Location: USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122

Howard Marks is Co-Chair of Start Engine and CEO of Gamzee.  Howard is an incredibly successful technology entrepreneur that has worked with a number of companies specializing in the video game, online gaming, social gaming and internet education industry. He is also working as the CEO of Gamzee, a company he founded in April 2011 with the stated goal of disrupting the gaming industry by making games that anyone can play anywhere, anytime, and on any device.

In 2005, Howard founded Acclaim Games. After its acquisition by Playdom, he became head of the Acclaim studio and Sr. VP, Strategic Planning at Disney Interactive Media Group.

Howard got his start in 1983 while a student at the University of Michigan.  In 1991 as a co-founder, member of the board of directors and Executive Vice-President of Activision, Howard helped turn a brand that was largely viewed as dead into the leading powerhouse of the video game industry.

sato munehiko

IMD Forum for 1/25/12: Munehiko Sato


Speaker:       Munehiko Sato
Time:              Wednesday, January 25 , 6-8pm
Location:       USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122

Munehiko Sato is a Lab Associate at the Interaction Group of Disney Research Pittsburgh where he works on sensor related projects with Dr. Ivan Poupyrev. He is also a PhD candidate at the  Hirose-Tanikawa Laboratory (Cyber Interface Lab) in the Department of Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies (AIS), Graduate School of Engineering, University of Tokyo.   His research interests include:  Human Computer Interaction, Embodied Interface, Real World Interaction, Multi-modal Interaction/Interface, Augmented Human, Ubiquitous Computing, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Entertainment Computing, and Wearable Computing.

Munehiko will discuss his  ‘Constellation of Departure’ installation at Haneda Airport in Tokyo ( recently  posted on the IMD blog ) and also present some of the projects from the Disney Research Lab.


IMD Forum for 1/18/12: Jeff Watson

Speaker:       Jeff Watson

Time:              Wednesday, January 18 , 6-8pm
Location:       USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122

Jeff Watson is a PhD candidate in Media arts and Practice at the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He has a professional background in screenwriting, filmmaking and experience design. His academic resume includes a BA in Cultural Studies from McGill University, an MFA in Film and Video from York University and a residency at the Canadian Film Centre. His research focuses on investigating how mobile and social media can enable new forms of storytelling and participation.

For tonight’s IMD Forum, Jeff will discuss the design process and challenges in developing SCA’s Reality, the hugely successful collaborative production game recently written up in Wired, .

Kim Moses

IMD Forum for 1/11/12: Kim Moses and Ian Sander

Speakers:       Kim Moses and Ian Sander
Time:              Wednesday, January 11 , 6-8pm
Location:       USC’s Robert Zemeckis Center for Digital Arts (RZC), Room 122

Kim Moses is a principal in Sander/Moses Productions where she has both developed and served as an executive producer on over 300 hours of prime-time television programming.  Moses was Executive Producer and Director of the hit CBS drama “Ghost Whisperer,” and she has co-authored the show’s companion book, “Ghost Whisperer: Spirit Guide.” She has also co-created and written the award winning “Ghost Whisperer: The Other Side” webseries. Kim’s other television executive producer credits include “Profiler,” for which she co-wrote and directed episodes, as well as “The Beast,” “New York News,” “Brimstone” and “For The People.” Among her television movie executive producer credits are “Ali, An American Hero,” the Emmy Award-winning “Stolen Babies,” “Chasing the Dragon” and “How to Marry a Billionaire.” Additional feature film script writing credits include “The Surgeon” and “Home of Champions.”

Ian Sander is a principal in Sander/Moses Productions where he has both developed and served as an executive producer on over 300 hours of dramatic prime-time television programming. Sander was Executive Producer and Director of the hit CBS drama “Ghost Whisperer,” and he has co-authored the show’s companion book, “Ghost Whisperer Spirit Guide.” He has also co-created the award winning Ghost Whisperer: The Other Side webseries.Ian’s other television executive producer credits include “Profiler,” “The Beast”, “New York News”, and “For the People” all of which he also directed, and “Brimstone.” Sander was the executive producer of the Emmy Award-winning series “Equal Justice” and the Emmy Award-winning two-hour series “I’ll Fly Away.” Sander’s earliest producing credits include the theatrical film noir thriller “D.O.A.” and the feature “Everybody’s All American.”

Kim and Ian have co-created the Total Engagement Experience, a new business and creative model for television, which uses the television show as a component of a broader multi-platform entertainment experience that includes the internet, publishing, music, mobile, DVD’s, video games and more, establishing an infinity loop driving ratings and increasing revenue streams.