Interactive Media Forum for 4/29/15: Virtual Fieldtrip

Speakers: Joshua McVeigh-Schultz, Julian Bleecker, Flint Dille
Time: Wednesday, April 29, 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI), Room 108

For the final seminar of this semester, we will experiment with a prototype learning experience designed to flip the idea of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). Whereas MOOCs bring students from outside the university into the academy through a virtual learning experience, we are developing a platform that enables students within the university to venture off-campus and into the most exciting, demanding and provocative worlds of professionals in their field. The prototype uses available technology to create a series of two-way conversations between students on campus and professionals in the field using Google Glass and a customized interface designed to facilitate clarity and intimacy between the students and the professional. The seminar will start with a brief history of Telematics and Telepresence by iMAP PhD candidate Joshua McVeigh-Schultz and then connect to the viewpoint of a guide who will tour us through the remote location.

IM Forum for 4/15/15: Experiments, Prototypes, Previews

Speakers: IMGD 2nd Year MFA Students
Time: Wednesday, April 15, 4-5:50pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building (SCI), Room 206

Please join us for a special event this Wednesday April 15 at 4:00-6:00PM in SCI 206 when the second year MFA students will be presenting their experiments, prototypes and previews of next year’s IMGD Thesis projects. This will be a dynamic, hands-on opportunity to experience and critique a variety of interactive experiences at a crucial moment in their development. Don’t miss this preview of things to come.

Interactive Media Forum for 4/8/15: Diversity in Games

Title: “Diversity in Games”
Speakers: Anne Toole, Ekta Kumar, Stephanie Preovolos, Janine Tedford, Brian McDonald
Time: Wednesday, April 8, 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI), Room 108

USC Interactive Media and Games Division in partnership with the International Game Developers Association invites the USC community and general public to a discussion and presentation regarding diversity in the games industry. The speakers will be presenting facts and strategies to promote diversity and educate others on how to be an ally.

Anne Toole, IGDA Board Member and Women in Games SIG Co-Chair
Anne Toole is a writer of games, television, webseries, and short fiction. Her credits include the Emmy-winning webseries THE LIZZIE BENNET DIARES and the WGA-nominated dark fantasy game THE WITCHER. Due to her transmedia experience, Anne has spoken at the inaugural Nokia OpenLab 2008 as well as about game design at GDC Europe, GDC Online, South by Southwest, the Login Game Conference, and Comic-con International. In addition to her work with the IGDA, she was appointed by the West Hollywood City Council to serve on the city’s Women’s Advisory Board. Anne graduated from Harvard with an ever-so-useful degree in Archaeology and suffers a minor zombie obsession.

Dr.Ekta Kumar, Director of USC Center for Women and Men
Ekta Kumar, Psy.D, has been named Director of the Center for Women and Men. Dr. Kumar comes to USC from the Loyola University Maryland counseling center, where she provided sound leadership in responding to sexual assault and other campus crises, provided individual, couples and group counseling, and served as a consultant and trainer for multicultural communities. She has facilitated numerous workshops including issues involving LGBTQA, gender and women of color, and she has presented at national conferences and published in national journals.

Stephanie Preovolos and Janine Tedford, Blizzard Entertainment, Human Resources

Brian McDonald, Game Designer at Activision / Infinity Ward
Brian McDonald has been an out-and-proud force in the game industry since 2008. He has worked on world class properties from Call of Duty to Hannah Montana, created award winning personal projects, and is a mentor with the IGDA mentors program. On the job, he is an outspoken proponent of diversity and inclusion who helped successfully push for female avatars in Call of Duty multiplayer. Brian earned a BS in Psychology & Computer Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) and currently works as a gameplay designer for Activision / Infinity Ward in Los Angeles, California. More info at — follow me @latestevolution

Interactive Media Forum for 4/1/15: Drew Murray & Marcus Smith, Insomniac Games

Speaker: Drew Murray & Marcus Smith, Insomniac Games
Time: Wednesday, April 1, 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI), Room 206
Title: “Expect the Unexpected: Lessons from Directing Sunset Overdrive (and becoming old men in the games industry)”

It’s not every day that you are offered the opportunity to do “whatever you want” and that freedom can be a blessing or curse. Marcus & Drew will discuss the challenges they experienced trying to do something different, from the obstacles of communication to the unexpected expectations of running a AAA console title in this tumultuous period.
Drew Murray is the Game Director of Sunset Overdrive. After aborted careers as an artist, chef, and attorney, Drew heard Jay Leno making fun of a new game design program at The Guildhall at SMU in a monologue and immediately enrolled. Drew joined Insomniac Games in July 1995 and has worked on Resistance: Fall of Man, Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction, Resistance 2, and Resistance 3.
Marcus Smith was the Creative Director of Sunset Overdrive. Before that, he fulfilled the same role on Resistance 3, was Project Manager of the first two Resistance titles. Prior to starting at Insomniac, Marcus worked for Mark Cerny’s design consultancy, Cerny Games for nearly five years. Marcus started his career in video games in 1995 working on ‘Steven Spielberg’s Director’s Chair’, more ‘video’ than ‘game’, but it was an educational experience. It also means Marcus is super old.

Interactive Media Forum for 3/25/15: Refik Anadol

Speaker: Refik Anadol
Time: Wednesday, March 25, 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI), Room 206

Refik Anadol is a media artist, director and designer born in Istanbul, Turkey in 1985. Currently lives and works in Los Angeles, California. He is a lecturer in UCLA’s Department of Design Media Arts.
Refik is working in the fields of site-specific public art with parametric data sculpture approach and live audio/visual performance with immersive installation approach, particularly his works explore the space among digital and physical entities by creating a hybrid relationship between architecture and media arts. He holds a master of fine arts degree from University of California, Los Angeles in Media Arts, master of fine arts degree from Istanbul Bilgi University in Visual Communication Design as well as bachelors of arts degree with summa cum laude in Photography and Video. Co-founder and Creative director at Antilop.

As a media artist, designer and spatial thinker, Refik Anadol is intrigued by the ways in which the transformation of the subject of contemporary culture requires rethinking of the new aesthetic, technique and dynamic perception of space. Anadol builds his works on the nomadic subject’s reaction to and interactions with unconventional spatial orientations. Embedding media arts into architecture, he questions the possibility of a post digital architectural future in which there are no more non-digital realities. He invites the viewers to visualize alternative realities by presenting them the possibility of re-defining the functionalities of both interior and exterior architectural formations. Anadol’s work suggests that all spaces and facades have potentials to be utilized as the media artists’ canvases.
He has been given awards, residencies and has served as a guest lecturer. His site-specific audio/visual performances have been seen in Walt Disney Concert Hall (USA), Hammer Museum (USA), International Digital Arts Biennial Montreal (Canada), Ars Electronica Festival (Austria), l’Usine | Genève (Switzerland), Arc De Triomf (Spain), Zollverein | SANAA’s School of Design Building (Germany), santralistanbul Contemporary Art Center (Turkey), Outdoor Vision Festival SantaFe New Mexico (USA), Istanbul Design Biennial (Turkey), Sydney City Art (Australia), Lichtrouten (Germany).

Interactive Media Forum for 3/4/15: Jeffrey Shaw

Speaker: Jeffrey Shaw
Time: Wednesday, March 4, 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI),Room 108
Title: New Media Art and the Cinematic Imaginary

New Media Art today offers a large spectrum of perceptual experiences that forge new levels of heightened perception based on innovative methods of conveying and exchanging information. These new media technologies demonstrate the power of media to reformulate space and time as a surrogate experience. Their imperative is the disappearance of the picture frame, enabling the interactive viewer to become immersed and enlivened by the re-presented experience. In his presentation Professor Jeffrey Shaw will elucidate a forty year artistic practice than ranges between expanded cinema and virtual reality, showing examples of work that describe the reformulation of narrative as a situation of emergent interaction. He will also describe recent virtual heritage projects being developed at the City University of Hong Kong Applied Laboratory for Visualization and Embodiment (ALiVE).

Jeffrey Shaw has been a leading figure in new media art since the 1960’s. In a prolific oeuvre of widely exhibited and critically acclaimed works he has pioneered and set benchmarks for the creative use of digital media technologies in the fields of virtual and augmented reality, immersive visualization environments, navigable cinematic systems and interactive narrative. Jeffrey Shaw was the founding director of the ZKM Institute for Visual Media Karlsruhe (1991-2002), and in 2003 he was awarded an Australian Research Council Federation Fellowship to co-found and direct the UNSW iCinema Centre for Interactive Cinema Research. Since 2009 Shaw has been Chair Professor of Media Art and Dean of the School of Creative Media at City University in Hong Kong). Shaw is also Visiting Professor at the Imperial College Institute of Global Health Innovation and at the Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing.

Interactive Media Forum for 2/25/15: Asher Vollmer

Speaker: Asher Vollmer
Time: Wednesday, February 25, 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI), Room 206
Title: The Rabbit Hole of Minimalist Design
Abstract: In this talk we’re going to explore how to strive for elegance in game design and if that’s even something we should be striving for in the first place.

Asher Vollmer is an independent game developer best known for designing the minimalist iOS puzzlers Threes and Puzzlejuice. He learned his trade by spending ten months at thatgamecompany and four years at the University of Southern California. Asher helped create two IGF Student Showcase winners: The Misadventures of P.B.Winterbottom and Spectre. He can, to this day, tell you the solution to every puzzle in every LucasArts adventure game that he’s played since childhood.

Interactive Media Forum for 2/18/15: Justin Shacklette, Parker Lowrey, Spencer Stirling (Activision)

Speakers: Justin Shacklette, Parker Lowrey, Spencer Stirling, Activision
Time: Wednesday, February 18, 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI), Room 206
Title: Big Data in Games

Justin Shacklette is a Principal Data Scientist in Activision’s Game Science division. He spends his days building analytic services to support Activision’s multiplayer online games, such as Call of Duty. Prior to joining Activision, Justin spent ten years developing enterprise software for web, mobile, and cloud applications. In his younger years, Justin earned his doctorate in physics before turning to development. His Evil thesis advisor had him working day and night on a portable laser beam system that could be mounted on the head of a shark. Needless to say, it didn’t work out.

Parker Lowrey is a PhD mathematician and data scientist currently working in the Game Science division of Activision. Parker has extensive analytics experience ranging from helping found a bioinformatics startup in Austin, Texas to Assistant Professor of Mathematics at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Beyond mathematics, his expertise spans large scale computing, machine learning, and statistics. When not researching new machine learning techniques or model building, Parker can be found destroying n00bs on the video game battlefield.

Spencer Stirling earned his PhD in mathematics and quantum physics in 2008, then spent the next four years managing a research group modelling exotic cold materials for quantum computers. Switching to industry in 2012, Spencer developed computer vision software for the satellite imagery, focusing on designing scalable algorithms (in C++ and Python) for large-scale mosaicing of the earth. Now with the Game Science division of Activision, he develops algorithms and statistical models to catch all manner of cheaters for the Call of Duty franchise.

Interactive Media Forum for 1/14/15: JOE PEREZ

Speaker: JOE PEREZ, Co-Founder, Tastemade
Time: Wednesday, January 14, 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI), Room 206

Joe is an entrepreneur, advisor and Internet product executive with over 17 years of experience in technology, media and health. He is a Co-Founder of Tastemade, a food and travel lifestyle video network built for the mobile generation. Prior to Tastemade Joe was a founding team member and EVP of Product at Demand Media. Joe was also the Co-Founder of The Daily Plate, a popular diet and fitness community and app that was acquired by Demand Media as a foundation for the health and wellness site LIVESTRONG.COM. Joe and the team grew LIVESTRONG.COM from a small startup to one of the most visited health and wellness sites in its category in just 4 years. The MyPlate Calorie tracker mobile app has grown to be one of the most popular paid apps in the health category on iTunes since launching in 2007.
Prior to Demand Media, Joe was SVP of Network and Operations at Intermix Media, parent company of MySpace (acquired by Fox Interactive Media), where he was responsible for building and operating the online gaming and social media platform group. Previously, Joe was an executive in Silicon Valley where he worked for a variety of technology and gaming startups including TEN/ (acquired by EA), Excite@Home and Pulse Entertainment.
Joe currently serves on the advisory board of the USC Center for Body Computing (CBC) whose mission is to bring together business and research innovators to study, accelerate and create digital health solutions.
Joe graduated from the University of San Diego with a degree in business and an emphasis in Marketing.

Interactive Media Forum for 11/19/14: Mark Stephen Meadows & Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Ph.D.

Speakers: Mark Stephen Meadows & Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Ph.D.
Time: Wednesday, November 19, 4-6pm
Location: USC’s School of Cinematic Arts Interactive Media Building(SCI), Room 206
TITLE: The Art of Conversational Characters: NLP, AI, IF, & NPCs!

This talk provides an overview of autonomous avatars and virtual assistants.  The talk is divided into two portions: Today and Tomorrow.
Today: This is a state-of-the-art survey. We review a number of systems and draw comparisons of interaction, personality, function, backstory, and their place in this exploding market.  We compare Cortana, Ellie, Jarvis, Watson and Siri and draw some conclusions about the importance of context. Of course we show Geppetto Avatars’ own Sophie as well.  We will discuss the technologies used and in particular the fragility of voice recognition.  We expand this into an investigation of the role that emotion plays in our interactions, how emotion and identity is detected, and what this means to search and advertising companies like Google or Facebook.
    Tomorrow: These systems will change the landscape of the Internet.  First we look at the impact avatars will have on search and social media. We then look at what this means for identity, privacy, knowledge, and our right to own our own personalities.  A social media structure that uses autonomous avatars and blockchain technologies to address these concerns is reviewed and we show example scaffolding for current development work that opens up broad new vistas for not just entertainment and games, but how we can each make money by contributing our own information to a city of avatars that will serve us in the coming years.

Mark Stephen Meadows is an American author, entrepreneur, and artist. He is the co-founder of Geppetto Avatars, Inc. and creator of several conversational character technologies.
He is the inventor of several US patents relating to artificial intelligence and avatars, and he lectures internationally on this work. In addition to developing software, Meadows is known for his hitchhiking adventures, specifically for visiting Baghdad in 2003, and his interviews with terrorists in Sri Lanka. He holds a USCG captain’s license.

Albert “Skip” Rizzo, Ph.D. is Director, Medical Virtual Reality at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies and Research Professor in the Dept. of Psychiatry and School of Gerontology, University of Southern California.
He conducts research on the design, development and evaluation of Virtual Reality systems in the treatment of PTSD, autism, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease, stroke and other serious disorders. He studies how interactive and immersive VR simulations can be applied to healthcare needs, beyond what’s possible with traditional tools and methods. Rizzo also tracks VR applications in clinical assessment, treatment and rehabilitation across psychological, cognitive and motor functioning in both healthy and clinical populations. He is a clinical psychologist and the director of Medical Virtual Reality Research at the Institute for Creative Technologies at the University of Southern California; and research professor in the USC Department of Psychiatry and at the USC Davis School of Gerontology. In his spare time he plays rugby, listens to music, rides his motorcycle and thinks about new ways that VR can drag the field of psychology, kickin’ and screamin’, into the 21st century. To view videos on his work, please visit: