SMU Guildhall Ranked Number One in World for Game Design

The Princeton Review’s 2017 list honors SMU Guildhall as best of 150 international programs

SMU Guildhall has risen to the top spot among the world’s best graduate game-design programs in The Princeton Review’s eighth annual report, published Tuesday, March 21, 2017.

At No. 1, SMU Guildhall ranks above the No. 2 Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy at UCF. Other schools in the top 25 include the University of Utah, Rochester Institute of Technology, USC, NYU, Drexel, Abertay University (Dundee, Scotland), DePaul, Michigan State, Ohio State, MIT, the University of Malta in Msida, and the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition, SMU Guildhall ranks higher than two other top-25 graduate programs in Texas: the University of Texas-Dallas (No. 14) and Texas A&M (No. 17).

“Becoming the No. 1 graduate game-design school is a tribute to faculty with deep experience, bright and motivated students, a robust network of successful alumni, stellar industry support, cutting-edge curriculum, and a commitment to continual improvement,” said SMU Guildhall Director Gary Brubaker.

The Review determined its rankings based on its 2016 survey of 150 institutions in the United States, Canada, and abroad that offer game design coursework and/or degrees. The 40-question review asked schools to report on everything from academic offerings and faculty credentials to graduates’ starting salaries and employment experience. Curriculum, faculty, facilities, career services, and technology were all among criteria The Princeton Review weighed to make its selections.

The Princeton Review’s reporting partner, PC Gamer magazine, will include a section on the top schools in its May 2017 issue, available on newsstands March 29. It will feature information on degree programs, class offerings, events, prominent professors, and alumni.

The Princeton Review developed its “Top Schools to Study Game Design” project in 2009 with assistance from a national advisory board that helped design the survey instrument and methodology. Board members included administrators and faculty from respected game design programs, and professionals from some of the top gaming companies.

About SMU Guildhall

SMU Guildhall is one of the premier graduate video game education programs in the United States. Founded by industry icons in 2003, the program has graduated over 600 students, with alumni working at more than 200 video game studios around the world. Classes are taught by industry veterans who have produced numerous top-selling game titles. The Guildhall is an industry-driven program with high standards of admission.

SMU art majors who are pursuing a B.F.A. are eligible to apply for a two-part B.F.A./M.I.T. (Bachelor of Arts/Master of Interactive Technology) program in partnership with The Guildhall at SMU. The 5½ year program offers a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Meadows School of the Arts and a graduate professional certificate or a Master of Interactive Technology degree from The Guildhall.

Applying to The Guildhall at SMU

For students wishing to combine their SMU Meadows B.F.A art degree with the M.I.T. at The Guildhall at SMU:

  • First, you must be dually admitted to SMU and the Division of Art. See Art Admission Page for application guidelines.
  • During your freshman year you must take Foundations: ASAG 1300, 1304, 1308, and 1312.
  • By Sept. 1 of your sophomore year, you must declare your major as a B.F.A. in Art at SMU Meadows and then set meetings with both the Division of Art advisor and a Meadows degree counselor to review your degree progress.
  • In your junior year, begin working on portfolio requirements outlined on The Guildhall website.
  • In the summer before your senior year, before July 1, apply to The Guildhall online.
  • Once accepted, you will spend the second semester of your senior year, plus an additional 18 months, at The Guildhall at SMU-in-Plano.

Read more for information about requirements for the B.F.A. in Art degree.

Read more about the academic programs at The Guildhall.

Faculty Spotlight: Director of Opera Hank Hammett on Collaboration, Being Bold, and How He Got to SMU

SMU Opera Director
Scene from Meadows Opera’s ‘Elixir of Love’

Professor Hank Hammett is the Director of Opera at Meadows School of the Arts. Having received his Bachelor’s and Master’s of Music at the University of Texas at Austin as well as having studied at Music Academy of the West, Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies, and New York’s MTB Studio; he is no stranger to the entertainment industry. He has performed both on and off broadway, in television, film, and of course opera.

Professor Hammett has worked at the The Metropolitan Opera, New York City Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, The Glimmerglass Festival, Boston Lyric Opera,  L’Opéra de Montréal, Gran Teatre del Liceu (Barcelona) and De Nederlandse Opera (Amsterdam) just to name a few. His recognitions include First Prize in the Liederkranz Competition in New York and the Grand Prix in the Concours International d’Oratorio et de Lied in France. In addition to the stage, Hammett has acted as an artistic director, stage director, music director, vocal coach, and also maintained a privately owned studio. More recently, Professor Hank directed Meadows Arts’ opera “Elixir of Love.”

What brought you to SMU?

In 2003 we moved from New York City to Austin.  One day at the beginning of the summer, I got a phone call from our good friend Virginia Dupuy asking if I’d be interested in filling in for one year for the vocal coach position, which had suddenly been vacated.

Although I had never thought about working in academia, I took the interim job, and commuted for that year from Austin to Dallas. One thing lead to another, and Dale and I both ended up joining the faculty on a permanent basis and moving to Dallas in 2005.  Three years into my time at Meadows, our opera director left suddenly. I was asked to be the Director of Opera. I’m a big believer in taking risks and walking through the doors that open right in front of you–even if you’re scared to death!

You have performed all around the world, where is your favorite place to perform?

The best opera companies, at least in my experience, are the ones where you feel like you’re a part of a wonderful, fun-loving, supportive group of friends and family:  The Met, San Francisco, Amsterdam, Barcelona are a few of them.  I love any working environment where people are caring, thoughtful, have a great sense of humor and are kind to everyone.

How has your extensive performance career influenced your directing and teaching career?

I learned that there isn’t any one approach to singing or one approach to acting that brings any given result or success. Everyone has a different path, a unique way of processing and of working and that this is something to embrace and celebrate! I learned the joys of collaborating with other artists to get a product that will surely be so much more beautiful and fantastic that anything any of us could create on our own. I learned the importance of balancing the artistic with the practical and just getting down to the bottom line of what I need to do to make something work.

Do you have a personal favorite performance you have worked on and why?

I can’t pick out just one, but my favorite performances are those given by our students. They continue to amaze me, particularly with the remarkable level of commitment, imagination, specificity and organic storytelling that they bring to the stage. The singing actors from the Division of Music, and the incredibly gifted young designers from the Division of Theatre are awesome and inspiring!

What should a student signing up for one of your classes anticipate?

Our Meadows Opera Theatre motto is Be bold, be fearless, be joyful, be yourself!  This continues to be my ongoing challenge to each of my students.  And, above all, to be caring, encouraging, respectful and immensely kind to each other and very thankful for each other.  We’re awfully fortunate.

15 Can’t Miss Photos from Public Works Dallas’ The Tempest

tempest shakespeare smu
Photographer Kim Leeson captured the groundbreaking, participatory theater project

Dallas Theater Center and SMU Meadows / Ignite Arts Dallas, in association with the AT&T Performing Arts Center, presented a musical theatre production of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, a community participation project conceived by Lear deBessonet and directed by Kevin Moriarty, with book, music and lyrics by Todd Almond.

Photographer Kim Leeson was on set to capture the moving moments. These are our favorite shots.

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