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USC Students’ Video Games Honored at New York Festival

USC Students’ Video Games Honored at New York Festival
From left, Diane Tucker, Kurosh ValaNejad, Simon Wiscombe, Peter Brinson and Tracy Fullerton

Students and staff members representing the Interactive Media Division (IMD) at the USC School of Cinematic Arts were recognized for pushing the paradigm of video games at the eighth annual Games for Change Festival.

“The IMD community has been involved with Games for Change since its beginning,” said Tracy Fullerton, the incoming chair of the division. “We all get a lot of inspiration from the work that we see there and the people who come to the festival, so it is really rewarding to have so many IMD projects represented this year.”

On June 20-22, the festival hosted the second annual Games for Change Awards, which recognize excellence in games that address current and pressing social issues. The ceremony held at New York University’s Skirball Center featured keynote speaker Al Gore.

USC cinematic arts students worked on “Mother Nature,” a game for Microsoft Kinect led by Diane Tucker; “Three Generations,” a historical board game overseen by Nonny de la Pena and Simon Wiscombe; and “The Cat and the Coup,” a game about the Iranian coup, led by Peter Brinson and Kurosh ValaNejad. The latter was nominated for the Knight New Game award, which recognizes documentary subject matter in games.

“I saw Peter [Brinson] working in the lab on ‘The Cat and the Coup’ and felt a responsibility, as an Iranian American and as the lab’s art director, to help,” ValaNejad said. “At first, I simply wanted to make sure the game looked authentic – that the set dressing reflects 1950s Iran. But as we continued to develop the project, Peter’s vision for meaningful mechanics and my interest in narrative architecture combined into the current form of the game.”

Said Fullerton: “It is great to see a variety of formats and topics included, from the political documentary games to a historical board game. They each are unique and groundbreaking.”

To hear Al Gore’s remarks, visit

For more information on the games, visit

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