Guildhall at SMU

For the Record: Dec. 2, 2010

Anita Ingram, Risk Management, was inducted as 2010-11 treasurer of the University Risk Management and Insurance Association (URMIA) at the organization’s 41st annual conference in Pittsburgh on Oct. 12, 2010. URMIA is an international nonprofit educational association promoting “the advancement and application of effective risk management principles and practices in institutions of higher education,” according to its press release. It represents more than 500 institutions of higher education and 100 companies.

Beth Newman, English, Dedman College, attended the North American Victorian Studies Association conference in Montreal Nov. 11-13, 2010, where she read a paper titled “Walter Pater, Alice Meynell, and Aestheticist Temporality.” The next weekend she read a slightly expanded version of the paper at the Clark Library (UCLA), at a symposium titled “Cultures of Aestheticism.”

Emily George Grubbs ’08, Bywaters Special Collections, Hamon Arts Library, wrote an article published in Legacies: A History Journal for Dallas and North Central Texas, published by the Dallas Historical Society. The article, “Texas Regionalism and the Little Theatre of Dallas,” discusses the collaboration between local artists and the Little Theatre of Dallas in areas such as program cover design, stage sets and publicity posters. Early in their careers, architect O’Neil Ford and artists Jerry Bywaters, Alexandre Hogue and Perry Nichols were among those who collaborated with the theatre.

Grant Kao and Justin Nesbit, graduate video game design students in The Guildhall at SMU, have been chosen to receive national scholarships presented annually by the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences. Kao and Nesbit will receive $2,500 each through the Randy Pausch and Mark Beaumont scholarship funds, respectively. The scholarships are awarded by the AIAS Foundation, the philanthropic arm of AIAS. Read more from SMU News.

SMU’s Data Mining TeamSubhojit Das and Greg Johnson, third-year students in the economics graduate program; and Jacob Williamson, a second-year graduate student in applied economics – has placed second in the national 2010 SAS Data Mining Shootout competition. Their faculty sponsor is Tom Fomby, Economics, Dedman College. Winners of the national competition were announced Oct. 25 at the SAS Data Mining Conference in Las Vegas.

SMU 2010 Data Mining Team in Las VegasThe competition’s problem statement was to determine the economic benefit of reducing the Body Mass Indices (BMIs) of a select number of individuals by 10 percent and to determine the cost savings to federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, as well as to the economy as a whole, from the implementation of the proposed BMI reduction program. This is the third year in a row that the University’s Economics Department has fielded one of the country’s top three data mining teams; SMU finished as national champions in 2008 and 2009. Read more from SMU News.

(In photo, left to right: Tim Rey of Dow Chemical Company; Subhojit Das, Tom Fomby, Greg Johnson and Jacob Williamson, all of SMU; and Tracy Hewitt of the Institute for Health and Business Insight at Central Michigan University. Dow Chemical and the Institute for Health and Business Insight were co-sponsors of the competition, along with the SAS Institute of Cary, North Carolina.)

Faculty in the News: Nov. 16, 2010

Henry Arthur McArdle, 'The Battle of San JacintoEric White, curator at SMU’s Bridwell Library, discussed James G. Pepper’s work creating a hand-lettered, hand-illustrated Bible with The United Methodist Church’s Interpreter Magazine. The article appeared in the November-December 2010 edition.

Sam Ratcliffe, head of special collections in SMU’s Hamon Arts Library, talked with The Houston Chronicle about the recent discovery of a smaller version of Texas artist Henry Arthur McArdle’s famed painting The Battle of San Jacinto (right) – a canvas previously thought to have been destroyed in a 1918 house fire. The article appeared in the paper’s Nov. 8, 2010 edition.

Matt Wilson, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about Sarah Palin’s visit to Dallas and its potential impact on other politicians’ aspirations with The Dallas Morning News Nov. 10, 2010.

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about how – and whether – President Obama can adapt to the new political realities of Washington with The Christian Science Monitor Nov. 6, 2010. In addition, he discussed the 2010 midterm elections with The Houston Chronicle and USA Today in articles that appeared Nov. 3, 2010.

Peter Raad on 'Ideas in Action with Jim Glassman'Peter Raad (right), Executive Director, The Guildhall at SMU, discussed the future landscape of video games on the nationally syndicated PBS series “Ideas in Action with Jim Glassman.” The show aired Nov. 4, 2010. Watch it online. video

Dennis Simon, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about Democratic successes in Dallas County elections despite Republican dominance of national races with The Dallas Morning News Nov. 3, 2010.

Anastasia Suen, Creative Writing, Continuing and Professional Studies, was featured in an article on the “Frisco Reads” program that appeared in The South Lake Times Oct. 27, 2010.

Bruce Bullock, Maguire Energy Institute, Cox School of Business, talked with The Wall Street Journal about how cement used in oil drilling is prone to failure. The article appeared in the Oct. 30, 2010 edition.

Dan Howard, Marketing, Cox School of Business, discussed Halloween sales of candy, costumes and decorations as a barometer for general economic recovery with The Dallas Business Journal Oct. 29, 2010.

Mark Chancey, Religious Studies, Dedman College, talked about a Bible-based history curriculum being sought by a member of Louisiana’s Caddo Parish School Board with The Shreveport Times Nov. 2, 2010.

Research Spotlight: Scores matter to video gamers

'Plants vs. Zombies' trailer screenbgrabVideo game review scores influence consumers, at least to an extent – according to a new study by EEDAR (Electronic Entertainment Design and Research) and The Guildhall at SMU.

Study participants were shown the game Plants vs. Zombies. The researchers found that those gamers who were shown high review scores (of about 90) gave higher scores of their own (about 85) when asked to give their own review score after playing the game.

Their scores were 20 percent higher than those of participants who were given low review scores (61) prior to playing the game; those respondents gave review scores averaging 71.

(Note: the Metacritic score for Plants vs. Zombies is 88 – not far off the 85 score given by the higher score group and the 79 given by the control group, which saw no reviews prior to playing the game.)

After they played the game, participants were offered $10 or a copy of the game. Participants exposed to the higher reviews were more than twice as likely to take the game than the cash.

In addition, those in the high review score group were 40 percent more likely to recommend Plants vs. Zombies to friends than the low review score group.

The results suggest that professional video game review scores can influence the marketplace, the researchers say. “We knew that review scores influenced consumers, but to what degree we couldn’t measure,” says EEDAR’s Jesse Divnich. “Still, as people, if you ask yourself individually we say, ‘No, we are not persuaded by outside sources. We make our own opinions.’ But obviously, the review scores influenced them.”

“This research, which has identified key behavioral aspects, is part of an overall objective of ours to ensure that we are always on the cusp of what is next in an ever-changing environment of the video game industry,” says Peter Raad, Guildhall executive director. “The driving force behind what we do is based on what is happening beyond our campus – in both distance and time. Preparing students to become industry leaders requires a commitment to ongoing research.”

> Read the full story from USA Today
> Learn more at The Guildhall at SMU website

Calendar Highlights: Aug. 31, 2010

Pearl rosary in shell from the Bridget Anne Braithwaite Rosary CollectionWelcome back, faculty: The SMU Faculty Club will be holding a Welcome Back BBQ 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Sept. 9. The cost is $5 per Faculty Club member. For more information contact Dee Powell, 214-768-4858, or visit

Rosary exhibit opens: SMU’s newest exhibit, the Bridget Anne Braithwaite Rosary Collection, is open for public viewing at Bridwell Library. The exhibit highlights a small selection of more than 320 rosaries from various cultures and regions, ranging from the 19th to the 20th century. The collection was donated to the Perkins School of Theology in June 2008 by the parents of Bridget Anne Braithwaite, and 15 selected rosaries will be on display until Dec. 12.

A taste of the Renaissance: Princeton Professor of Literature Leonard Barkan will lecture on “Some Pages from Michelangelo’s Life” as part of the 2010-11 Gilbert Lecture Series Sept. 9. Currently, Barkan is on academic leave from Princeton, touring and researching for an upcoming book on Michelangelo’s drawings and writings. A short reception will take place at 6 p.m. in the Texana Room of SMU’s DeGolyer Library, followed by the reading at 6:30 p.m. in the Stanley Marcus Reading Room. Find upcoming Gilbert Lecture Series events online.

“Portraits of Muhammad”: On Sept. 2, Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Johan Elverskog will speak on a topic of recent global controversy in “Portraits of Muhammad: From Genghis Khan to South Park.” The Dedman College-sponsored event begins at 7 p.m. in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. For more information, contact the Department of Religious Studies at 214-768-2095 or visit

Your future…in video games: The Guildhall at SMU will hold an open house 10 a.m.-noon Sept. 11 at 5232 Tennyson Parkway, Building 2 in Plano. Anyone interested in pursuing a degree or certificates= in software development, art creation or level design in videogaming can register for the event online – only 100 spots remain. Immediately following the two-hour symposium, lunch will be served at the Guildhall’s Gigantic Block Party. For more information, contact René Archambault, manager of admissions and alumni affairs, 972-473-3539.

SMU hosts ‘Industry Giants’ for gaming, FX conference June 12-13

Industry Giants conference imageSMU plays host to international artists in gaming, animation and special effects – including key contributors to the movie blockbusters “Avatar” and “Alice in Wonderland” – during the 9th annual Industry Giants conference June 12-13 on the main campus.

“Industry Giants: Creative Alchemy” will include panel discussions and master classes with animators and effects artists in film, television and game development. The event is hosted by The Guildhall at SMU, the Texas Film Commission and A Bunch of Short Guys, a Dallas-based filmmaking, visual effects, animation and game development nonprofit organization.

Conference events are open to the public, students and industry professionals. All sessions will be held in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center.

Speaker presentations take place on June 12, which concludes with a panel discussion. June 13 is dedicated to master classes from which participants can select.

Speaker topics, Saturday, June 12:

  • “The Making of ‘Avatar’ and Creating the World of Pandora” – Guy Williams, visual effects supervisor, Weta Digital
  • “The Making of ‘Alice in Wonderland'” – Jeff Schu, supervising animator, Sony Pictures Imageworks
  • “Creating Science Fiction and Fantasy in Today’s Entertainment” – Stephan Martiniere, art director, id Software
  • “Breaking Down the World of Commercial Production” – Jeff Dates, visual effects/CG supervisor, The Mill NY
  • “The Alchemy of Elemental Magic” – Joseph Gilland, artist and author, Elemental Magic: The Art of Special Effects Animation
  • “Interviewing the Industry Giants” – Rita Street, president, Radar Cartoons

Master classes, Sunday, June 13:

  • “ZBrush Workflows” – Paul Gaboury, 3D application engineer, Pixologic
  • “The Basics of Storyboarding” – Dan Kuenster, creative director, i-Station
  • “Simulations in ICE (Softimage)” – Brad Gabe, senior technical animator, Janimation
  • “From Storyboard to Production” – Johan and Norma Klingler, animation instructors, Art Institute of Dallas
  • “Bones to Animation” – Brad Clark, co-founder,
  • “Voiceover for Animation” – Mary Morgan, actress
  • “Modern Life Drawing” – Michael Mentler, artist, The Society of Figurative Arts

(Above, an image from the Industry Giants 2009 conference.)

> Find a detailed schedule, speaker bios, ticket costs and master class descriptions at

Guildhall Academy offers 10 percent faculty-staff discount

Stock photo of a PC game controllerThe Guildhall at SMU offers a video game creation summer camp for middle and high school students – and they also offer a 10 percent faculty-staff discount.

Students in The Guildhall Academy experience a two-week day camp taught by SMU faculty members who are game industry veterans. Each participant will create his or her own 2D video game using an exclusive professional game-builder starter kit developed by The Guildhall.

After the camp, students can take their games home and continue to develop and play them on a PC or Xbox 360.

Sessions for summer 2010 will take place June 7-18 and June 21-July 2nd at SMU-in-Plano. Middle school and high school students will be in separate classes. The camp runs Monday-Friday (except July 3), 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m.

Extended day hours are available for an additional cost and start at 8 a.m. and end at 5:30 p.m.

For more information or to enroll your student, contact Melissa Lee, 972-473-3535.

> Read more at The Guildhall’s homepage

Tune In: Girl gamers on the rise

The traditionally all-male world of video game creation has experienced an influx of female talent over the past decade.

The Guildhall at SMU sees this trend up close: The January 2010 entering class for its video game development programs is nearly 20 percent female, as compared to the industry’s current employment pool of 4 to 6 percent women.

“It’s very exciting to see more women in gaming,” says Peter Raad, The Guildhall’s founder and executive director, who was interviewed for a segment broadcast on Dallas’ CW33 News April 29, 2010. Click the video screen to watch the entire piece. video

Faculty in the News: May 4, 2010

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Dedman College, talked about the potential impact of the immigration debate on the 2010 elections with USA Today May 3, 2010. He also discussed U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison’s efforts on behalf of Houston’s Johnson Space Center to win a two-year extension of space shuttle flights for an article that appeared in The Houston Chronicle May 1, 2010.

Bruce Bullock, Maguire Energy Institute, Cox School of Business, discussed the economic outlook for energy and gas exploration in Pennsylvania with The Dallas Business Journal April 30, 2010.

Peter Raad, The Guildhall at SMU, discussed current job and salary prospects in the video game industry with Reuters April 29, 2010.

Alan Bromberg, Dedman School of Law, talked about the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s newly aggressive posture in its fraud litigation against Goldman Sachs with The Los Angeles Times April 22, 2010.

Dan Howard, Marketing, discussed how companies use Earth Day to promote their brands with giveaway items for an article that appeared in USA Today April 22, 2010.

Tune In: Training tomorrow’s game designers

What does SMU’s master’s-level program in game design have in common with medical school? Peter Raad, founder and executive director of The Guildhall at SMU, talked about The Guildhall’s blend of theoretical and hands-on training – and its involvement in the inaugural Indie Game Challenge – with GamerLive.TV during the 2010 D.I.C.E.™ (Design, Innovate, Communicate, Entertain) Summit in Las Vegas in February. Click the screen to watch the interview:

Gaming giant THQ opens usability lab at The Guildhall

THQ logoInteractive entertainment software giant THQ Inc. has announced that it will sponsor a new, state-of-the-art usability lab at The Guildhall at SMU.

The lab will serve as a primary usability test center for all the company’s titles. THQ personnel will run the center and manage test activities, led by Dr. Karl Steiner, senior manager of Usability.

“By developing our lab at SMU, THQ is getting more than just a first-class testing facility, we’re also joining a community of dedicated gamers,” Steiner said. “We look forward to collaborating with SMU faculty members and students on test and research activities as well as contributing to the development of the next generation of gaming talent.”

THQ – the creator of best-selling titles including Saints Row, Company of Heroes, Metro 2033 and the UFC Undisputed and All-Star Karate franchises – expects the lab to be fully operational by summer 2010. In addition to enhanced game testing capabilities, the shared location will generate important opportunities for collaboration with faculty and the postgraduate community, as well as potential paid internships and research projects.

The Guildhall at SMU will be the only top graduate video game design and development program with an on-site Usability Lab.

“We are incredibly excited by this opportunity for collaboration with one of the game industry’s leading global publishers,” says Peter Raad, Guildhall founder and executive director. “THQ’s presence at SMU will have a significant impact on its faculty and students by providing valuable hands-on access to professional video game usability equipment.”

Read more from SMU News

By | 2010-03-16T14:59:31+00:00 March 16, 2010|Categories: News|Tags: , , , , , , |
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