Microsoft veteran to join the USC School of Cinematic Arts
Ranked the top game design school in North America by The Princeton Review and GamePro magazine for the third year running, the USC School of Cinematic Arts is home to renowned faculty and staff. Coming this fall, the school’s Interactive Media Division (IMD) will add another prestigious member to its ranks in the form of user-research pioneer Dennis Wixon, who will serve as the Microsoft Endowed Professor.
“I am thrilled and humbled to be joining the Interactive Media Division as the Microsoft Endowed Professor,” Wixon said. “The focus on innovation makes the program exciting and relevant to [the] world of gaming and I look forward to contributing to the division’s level of excellence.”
IMD currently teaches several courses on user interfaces, such as “CTIN 404 Usability Testing for Games” and “CTIN 410 Interface Design for Games,” which involve students developing mechanics for games and testing their playability in real-world situations.
“We are very pleased to have Dennis as the Microsoft Endowed Professor,” Dean Elizabeth M. Daley said. “His unparalleled professional accomplishments have established him as a leader and innovator in the field of game design. He is a perfect fit for the School of Cinematic Arts and the Interactive Media Division.”
With more than 13 years at Microsoft Corp., Wixon has had extensive experience in innovation in design initiatives. He served as the founding user-research manager for Microsoft Game Studios, research manager for Microsoft Surface, senior user-researcher in the Microsoft Startup Business Group, senior research lead in the Microsoft Business Products Experience Group, and head of SQL Azure research and innovation.
His team’s innovative research methods, such as RITE (Rapid Iterative Testing and Evaluation) and TRUE (Tracking Real-time User Experience), have been successfully applied to the best-selling Halo franchise. In 2011, Wixon was elected to the SIGCHI Academy, which honors leaders and shapers of the field of human-computer interaction.