SMU Guildhall

SMU Guildhall, eGency Global announce OP Live Dallas, a major esports event scheduled for Sept. 22-23, 2018

ESL Pro League CSGO tournament

Crowds gather for an ESL Pro League tournament. A December 2017 event in Odense, Denmark, drew more than 5,000 in-person attendees and 388,000 concurrent online viewers.

SMU Guildhall, the top ranked graduate school for video game design in the world, has entered a collaboration with an industry leader in esports to launch a major new event. OP Live Dallas will feature high-level professional competition, a 16-team collegiate tournament, a hackathon for high-schoolers, and a showcase for the work of Guildhall master’s degree candidates in interactive technology.

The Guildhall is collaborating with eGency Global, one of North America’s most experienced esports production, marketing and talent management firms, to produce OP Live Dallas.

OP Live Dallas logo“We are excited to be part of this collaborative effort with eGency Global,” said Mark Nausha, deputy director of GameLab at SMU Guildhall. “OP Live will be interactive, immersive, and unique from typical esports events. We look forward to bringing this awesome fan experience to the Dallas area.”

OP Live Dallas will run September 22-23, 2018 on the 50,000-sq.-ft. main floor of the Irving Convention Center at Las Colinas.

> Cheryl Hall, The Dallas Morning News: Two companies bridge the esports marketing gap

Through their collaboration, eGency Global and SMU Guildhall will offer esports fans a unique and more robust experience than traditional esports events, the collaborators say. Beyond the interactive and engaging experience, OP Live Dallas will also showcase the multitude of career opportunities available to video game and esports devotees. SMU Guildhall alumni work for the biggest names in the video gaming industry, as well as in gamification sectors in a multitude of other industries like tech, education, business and medical.

“The session for parents will shine a light on career and education opportunities for youth in the video gaming, cybersecurity and other STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields, as well as the many upsides of the gaming community. The community is known for its supportive nature and lasting friendships,” says Chris Stone, CEO of eGency Global.

The two-day OP Live Dallas schedule will include non-stop competition and activities, opportunities to meet popular pro players, cosplayers, and more. Highlights include:

  • Competitions for 16 collegiate teams and 4 pro esports teams, with prizes to be awarded.
  • Showcases featuring never-before-seen games created by SMU students and alumni.
  • Mini TED-like talks with industry experts.
  • Interactive and personalized experiences.
  • Cosplay and game art gallery.
  • High School Hackathon, where students compete to identify, defend and terminate cybersecurity threats in a fictional small business.
  • Fundraising to benefit Children’s Medical Center Dallas through Extra Life, a division of Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals.

The entire event was designed with esports and gaming fans in mind. “In the past year, we’ve spoken with dozens of fans who regularly attend esports and gaming events. We wanted to find out what they love most about the events and where improvements could be made. This insight was invaluable when we were planning OP Live Dallas,” said Stephanie Chavez, eGency Global director of marketing.

The collaborators estimate attendance of approximately 7,000 for the two-day event. Numerous sponsorship and exhibiting opportunities are available to organizations looking to reach fans in the burgeoning esports space.

> Visit the OP Live Dallas homepage at oplivedallas.com

SMU Guildhall named #1 graduate game-design program for second consecutive year in The Princeton Review‘s 2018 rankings

SMU Guildhall, No. 1 Graduate Game Design Program, The Princeton Review 2018Achievement Unlocked: Defending Champion. SMU Guildhall has held onto the top spot among the world’s best graduate game-design programs in The Princeton Review’s ninth annual report, published March 13, 2018.

At No. 1, SMU Guildhall ranks above NYU (#2), UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (#3), USC (#4), and the University of Utah (#5), as well as one other top-25 graduate program in Texas — the University of Texas-Dallas (#14)

> See the full list of graduate and undergraduate game-design program rankings at princetonreview.com

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on its 2017 survey of 150 institutions in the United States, Canada, and abroad that offer game design degree programs or courses. The 40-question review gathered data on everything from academic offerings and facilities to graduates’ starting salaries and career achievements.

The Guildhall program was specifically noted for its faculty, curriculum development, career services success, and team game production program.

“Faculty at SMU Guildhall are world class. By design, [they are] recruited from the industry, and the curriculum was designed in collaboration,” reads a statement from the Guildhall to the Review. “Student games are produced by a faculty of professional developers, providing students with the ability to be mentored by thirty-year veterans of the industry.

“These relationships yield professional quality games and teams that are hired by studios all over the world. In fact, an entire student team was hired by Gearbox Software this year to develop an unannounced avant garde VR title. It is the first time in the history of game development programs that a major studio has hired an entire student team upon graduation. [Guildhall faculty] have accumulated so much experience and talent that it has revolutionized game development programs worldwide.”

The Guildhall created its Master of Interactive Technology degree as the only program of its kind in the world. Designed with ongoing input from industry professionals, the graduate degree provides a rigorous preparation to enter the game development industry at a two-year experience level.

The Princeton Review’s reporting partner, PC Gamer magazine, will include a section on the top schools in its May 2018 issue, available on newsstands March 27. It will feature information on degree programs, class offerings, events, prominent professors, and alumni. The issue will also include a special section on SMU Guildhall.

> Read the full story from the SMU Guildhall homepage

Linda and Mitch Hart commit significant gift to SMU’s Ford Research and Innovation Building

Linda and Milledge 'Mitch' A. Hart IIIDallas business leaders Linda Wertheimer Hart ’65 and Milledge (Mitch) A. Hart, III have committed a significant gift to the Gerald J. Ford Research and Innovation Building at SMU. The new facility will house the University’s Linda and Mitch Hart eCenter, which includes SMU Guildhall, the world’s top-ranked graduate game design program. The building will be located on SMU’s main campus at the corner of McFarlin Boulevard and Airline Road.

“Thanks to the Harts’ generosity, we are one step closer to creating a world-class center for research and innovation on our campus,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “We are excited about the synergies we’ll derive from bringing advanced computer programs together under one roof.”

In 2000, the Harts made a generous gift to establish the Hart eCenter, currently located at SMU-in-Plano, as well as to endow the eCenter’s directorship. The Hart eCenter focuses on interdisciplinary research, education and innovation; it is the first university-wide initiative focused on interactive network technologies created at a major research university. Reporting directly to SMU’s provost, the Hart eCenter uses this freedom and flexibility to promote thought leadership at the intersections of multiple fields and disciplines.

The Hart eCenter’s most visible manifestation is SMU Guildhall. Since its founding in 2003, the program has graduated more than 700 students, who now work at more than 250 video game studios around the world. SMU Guildhall offers both a Master of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development degree and a Professional Certificate of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development, with specializations in Art, Design, Production and Programming. In 2017, the Guildhall was named the world’s “No. 1 Graduate Program for Game Design” by The Princeton Review, based on a survey of 150 institutions in the United States, Canada and abroad that offer game design coursework and/or degrees.

> Visit SMU Guildhall online: guildhall.smu.edu

“SMU understands the value of interdisciplinary research in creating new knowledge and discovering new approaches to solving the world’s challenges. With a new facility dedicated to building these research collaborations, the University is stepping forward as an innovation leader,” said Linda Hart. “The growth of SMU Guildhall, both in programming and in stature, has been a source of tremendous pride for Linda and me ever since we made our first gift to establish the Hart eCenter. I look forward to seeing the exciting work this internationally recognized program will produce as it extends and expands its cutting-edge research in interactive technologies,” said Mitch Hart.

The Ford Research and Innovation Building was established with a $15 million lead gift commitment from Gerald J. Ford ’66, ’69 and Kelli O. Ford to construct a campus research center supporting SMU’s goal to expand advanced computing and interdisciplinary research throughout the University.

“One of SMU’s strengths is the research and other work we do at the intersection of multiple disciplines,” said Steven C. Currall, provost and vice president for academic affairs. “We plan to continue building on this strength to advance and expand our research capability.”

In addition to the Hart eCenter and SMU Guildhall, the new building will house the AT&T Center for Virtualization, which will allow researchers from across the University to conduct interdisciplinary work to address the technical, economic, social and security issues associated with virtual technologies and their applications. It also will be the home of the Dedman College Interdisciplinary Institute, established in May 2012 through a gift from the Dedman Foundation.

It is expected that the availability of the Ford Research and Innovation Building will encourage more faculty to use high-performance computing and attract greater levels of external research funding. The University’s Second Century Campaign added 54 new substantially endowed faculty positions, bringing SMU’s current total to 120, many of them senior-level scholars with active research agendas. Along with other faculty who are leading important research projects, these scholars need and expect the best facilities to support their work. In addition, high-performance computing will apply directly to the undergraduate curriculum in several disciplines.

“Linda and Mitch Hart have been visionary supporters of SMU for many years. This gift reaffirms their dedication to the University as a leader in interdisciplinary research and education,” said Brad E. Cheves, SMU vice president for Development and External Affairs. “We are incredibly grateful for their support of excellence and innovation among our faculty and students, and for the opportunity to share these world-changing capabilities with our North Texas and global communities.”

> Read the full story from SMU News

Tune In: Videogame pioneer and Xbox co-creator Ed Fries to speak in SMU Guildhall’s Game Changers Speaker Series Friday, Feb. 2, 2018

Ed Fries, Game Changers Speaker Series, February 2018

Ed Fries, a videogaming pioneer and entrepreneur who helped create the first version of the Xbox console, will speak at SMU at 3:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 2, 2018. His visit, the latest event in the Game Changers Speaker Series, will be livestreamed by SMU Guildhall on Twitch TV.

> Watch Ed Fries at SMU on Friday, Feb. 2: twitch.tv/smuguildhall

Fries joined Microsoft in 1986 as one of the early developers of the Word and Excel applications. He founded Microsoft Game Studios and served as vice president of game publishing during much of the Xbox’s life cycle. He retired from the company in 2004 and since then has served as an adviser to dozens of studios on interactive projects ranging from esports to healthcare to virtual reality. In addition, he serves as a member of the Board of Commissioners of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

During his SMU visit, Fries will discuss the early history of the video game business and explore important topics currently facing the industry.

The Game Changers Speaker Series, established in 2015, brings industry professionals to campus to deliver special topics presentations to the SMU Guildhall student body, alumni and community as an extension of Guildhall’s mission – to educate and inspire the next generation of video game developers.

> Visit SMU Guildhall online: guildhall.smu.edu

SMU Guildhall, Biological Sciences faculty to help launch disease-fighting game technology in online event on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017

HEWMEN alpha launch graphic

What would be the impact if humans could harness the resources of massive online communities to fight disease? SMU faculty members have developed a technology that gives video gamers the power to fight disease through data – and the entire University community is invited to participate in its online launch.

On Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017 from 6-8 p.m. CST, BALANCED Media Technology – cofounded by SMU Guildhall faculty members Corey Clark and Rob Atkins – will host an online Alpha Launch of its proprietary HEWMEN™ platform. The event will be streamed live on Mixer.com and hosted on the SMU Guildhall Facebook page.

> Learn more about HEWMEN™ and download the game client: hewmen.io/alpha

> Visit Facebook.com/SMUGuildhall to RSVP for the online launch

John Wise and Pia Vogel, faculty members in the Department of Biological Sciences of SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, will also be on hand for the launch. Their research on cancer-fighting drugs provided the impetus for the specially designed Minecraft mod, and their amassed data helps to power the HEWMEN™ integration.

Wise and Vogel have tapped the high-performance computing power of SMU’s Maneframe II, one of the most powerful academic supercomputers in the nation. Yet a network of gamers can crunch massive amounts of data during routine gameplay by pairing two powerful weapons: human intuition, and the massive computing power of networked gaming machine processors. Taking this research to the gaming community will more than double the amount of machine processing power attacking the problem.

> SMU Research: SMU Guildhall and cancer researchers level up in quest to beat cancer

Viewers can watch popular Minecraft streamers GhostfromTexas, Direwolf20, TangoTek and impulseSV demonstrate the high technology and the serious fun of games that help researchers fight disease. In addition, casual and committed gamers can join in through a modified version of the popular Minecraft “Bed Wars” designed to find new cancer therapies – all during regular gameplay.

> Learn more and find more useful links at the SMU Guildhall’s launch page

SMU Guildhall students play games for good during 2017 Extra Life Game-a-Thon Dec. 2-3

Extra Life logo 2017This weekend, you can join SMU Guildhall for 24 hours of esports excitement and gaming for good – all from the comfort of your living room.

The Guildhall’s Extra Life Game-a-Thon returns Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 2-3, 2017, to raise funds for Children’s Miracle Network. The student-led event features online battles in both popular titles and new student-designed games, and the event will be streamed from 10 a.m.-10 p.m. both days on the SMU Guildhall Twitch channel.

Watch Extra Life 2017 live at Twitch.TV/SMUGuildhall

Guildhall graduate students have raised more than $12,000 for Children’s Medical Center Plano during their two years of Extra Life competition. The team has set a 2017 goal of $7,500, with The Hersh Foundation pledging to match dollar-for-dollar all funds raised up to $10,000. The Dallas-based foundation was created in 1997 by Kenneth A. Hersh, president and CEO of the George W. Bush Presidential Center, and his wife, Julie, who serves as its president.

> Visit Team SMU Guildhall’s Extra Life direct-donation link

The students will return with some of the most popular competition titles, including Mario Party, Rocket League Tournament and Overwatch. New this year: Mowin’ and Throwin’, a full-length game designed by Guildhall alumni that began as a 24-hour design challenge during last year’s game-a-thon.

> Sign up for a Mowin’ and Throwin’ play test at House Pixel Games

A partial list of this year’s tournament titles:

The event will include an appearance by local esports team Dallas Fuel, competitors in the new Overwatch League. They will discuss the life of a professional esports gamer beginning at 5:15 p.m. on Sunday. In addition, SMU Guildhall will give away two copies of Star Wars Battlefront II provided by alumni donors; more giveaways and fun activities will take place throughout the weekend and will be announced during the streams of each game.

Since its inception in 2008, Extra Life has raised more than $30 million for sick children through thousands of gamers from around the world, raising funds from friends and community to help heal sick and injured kids. One hundred percent of donations, which are tax-deductible, go to local Children’s Miracle Network hospitals.

> Read the press release from the SMU Guildhall website

> Learn more at the SMU Guildhall Extra Life team page

Tune In: Fighting cancer with Minecraft

What if you could help fight cancer by playing a video game? Thanks to a partnership between SMU Guildhall and a team of scientists from the SMU Department of Biological Sciences, you can.

Gary Brubaker, director of the Guildhall, Corey Clark, Guildhall deputy director for research, and John Wise, associate professor of biological sciences, gathered in Plano for a special Facebook Live event on Sept. 28, 2017. Watch their discussion of how their partnership has turned the popular game Minecraft into a vehicle for cancer research – and effectively doubled the computing power available for this work.

> Learn more from the SMU Guildhall homepage

SMU, LIFT team in semifinals for $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE

 

An SMU and Literacy Instruction for Texas (LIFT) team has been named one of eight semifinalists advancing in the $7 million Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy XPRIZE presented by Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The XPRIZE is a global competition that challenges teams to develop mobile applications designed to increase literacy skills in adult learners.

> Learn more about the semifinalists at the Adult Literacy XPRIZE website

SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development and Guildhall graduate video game development program are working with LIFT to design an engaging, puzzle-solving smartphone game app to help adults develop literacy skills. The SMU and LIFT team, People ForWords, is one of 109 teams who entered the competition in 2016.

Drawing upon the education experts at SMU’s Simmons School, game developers at Guildhall and adult literacy experts at LIFT, the team developed Codex: The Lost Words of Atlantis. In the game, players become archaeologists hunting for relics from the imagined once-great civilization of Atlantis. By deciphering the forgotten language of Atlantis, players develop and strengthen their own reading skills. The game targets English- and Spanish-speaking adults.

> Learn more about the Codex: The Lost Words of Atlantis team at PeopleForWords.org

Students at LIFT, a North Texas nonprofit adult literacy provider, have tested and provided key insights for the game during its development. According to LIFT, one in five adults in North Texas cannot read, a key factor in poverty. Dallas has the fourth highest concentration of poverty in the nation, with a 41 percent increase from 2000 to 2014.

Testing of the eight semifinalists’ literacy software begins in mid-July with 12,000 adults who read English at a third grade level or lower. Selection of up to five finalists will depend on results of post-game testing to evaluate literacy gains among test subjects. Finalists will be named in May 2018, and the winner will be named in 2019.

> See the full story at SMU News

> Download the Codex: The Lost Words Of Atlantis app for Android at Google Play

Check out the Codex gameplay with this gallery of screen captures:

SMU Guildhall’s 2017 Spring Exhibition takes place Friday, May 19

SMU Guildhall hosts its annual showcase of video games developed by graduating students on Friday, May 19, 2017. The 2017 Spring Exhibition honors Cohort 25 – 36 master’s degree candidates who specialize in art creation, level design, production and programming – and will take place in Building 2 of the SMU-in-Plano campus at 5232 Tennyson Parkway.

Tanya WatsonThe Exhibition includes two Capstone games that are now shipped titles. The 3D platformer Dawn and VR puzzle game Mouse Playhouse both won approval through the Steam Greenlight process for free distribution through the popular Steam gaming platform.

The invitation-only Graduate Reception takes place 6-9 p.m. on Friday evening, following the exhibition. This year’s keynote speaker is Tanya Watson, co-founder of Squanchtendo. The speech and graduation ceremony can be seen live on the SMU Guildhall Twitch channel starting at 6:45 p.m.

These events are open to the public:

  • 2:30-4 p.m.: Exhibition of student games
  • 4-5 p.m.: Capstone Team games presentations
  • 5-5:30 p.m.: Honors Awards

> Learn more about the 2017 Spring Exhibition at the SMU Guildhall website

Research: Gamers join researchers in the fight against cancer

John Wise, Pia Vogel and Corey Clark

SMU researchers (l-r) John Wise, Pia Vogel and Corey Clark are tapping the power of an online gaming community to fight cancer. Photo: Hillsman S. Jackson

The massive computational power of an online gaming community has even more clout than supercomputers in the fight against cancer, according to SMU biochemical researchers and video game developers. The two groups are partnering with the world’s vast network of gamers in hopes of discovering a new cancer-fighting drug.

Biochemistry professors Pia Vogel and John Wise in the Department of Biological Sciences and Corey Clark, deputy director of research at SMU Guildhall, are leading the University’s assault on cancer in partnership with fans of the best-selling video game Minecraft.

With 122 million copies of the game sold worldwide and more than 55 million active players each month as of February 2017, Vogel and Wise expect deep inroads in their quest to narrow the search for chemical compounds that improve the effectiveness of chemotherapy drugs.

“Crowdsourcing as well as computational power may help us narrow down our search and give us better chances at selecting a drug that will be successful,” said Vogel. “And gamers can take pride in knowing they’ve helped find answers to an important medical problem.”

Up to now, Wise and Vogel have tapped the high-performance computing power of SMU’s Maneframe, one of the most powerful academic supercomputers in the nation. With ManeFrame, Wise and Vogel have sorted through millions of compounds that have the potential to work. Now, the biochemists say, it’s time to take that research to the next level — crowdsourced computing.

A network of gamers can crunch massive amounts of data during routine gameplay by pairing two powerful weapons: the best of human intuition combined with the massive computing power of networked gaming machine processors.

Taking their research to the gaming community will more than double the amount of machine processing power attacking their research problem.

“With the distributed computing of the actual game clients, we can theoretically have much more computing power than even the supercomputer here at SMU,” said Clark, who is also an adjunct research associate professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. In March, SMU Guildhall was named No. 1 among the world’s Top 25 Graduate Schools for Video Game Design by The Princeton Review.

“If we take a small percentage of the computing power from 25,000 gamers playing our mod we can match ManeFrame’s 120 teraflops of processing power,” Clark said. “Integrating with the Minecraft community should allow us to double the computing power of that supercomputer.”

Even more importantly, the gaming community adds another important component — human intuition.

Wise believes there’s a lot of brainpower eager to be tapped in the gaming community. And human brains, when tackling a problem or faced with a challenge, can make creative and intuitive leaps that machines can’t.

“What if we learn things that we never would have learned any other way? And even if it doesn’t work it’s still a good idea and the kids will still get their endorphin kicks playing the game,” Wise said. “It also raises awareness of the research. Gamers will be saying ‘Mom, don’t tell me to go to bed, I’m doing scientific research.’”

The Vogel and Wise research labs are part of the Center for Drug Discovery, Design and Delivery (CD4) in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences. The center’s mission is a novel multi-disciplinary focus for scientific research targeting medically important problems in human health. Their research is funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.

— Margaret Allen

> Read the full story at the SMU Research blog

Load More Posts