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USC maintains nation’s top ranking in game design

University gets No. 1 ranking for fifth year in a row

Game design students
The Princeton Review rankings evaluate schools with the best programs to study video game design. (USC Photo/Roberto Gomez)

Building on its past success, USC has been named the top university for game design in North America by The Princeton Review, an education services company.

The graduate program’s No. 1 ranking shared by the Interactive Media & Games Division in the USC School of Cinematic Arts (SCA) and the Department of Computer Science in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering marks the fifth straight year USC has been on top. A similar ranking for USC’s undergraduate program marks the fourth year for that distinction.

“It is a tremendous honor to continue to be recognized year after year,” said Tracy Fullerton, holder of the Electronic Arts Endowed Chair of Interactive Entertainment in the Interactive Media & Games Division and director of the USC Game Innovation Lab. “Game design has become an incredibly competitive academic category, and this ranking really reflects the immense amount of work that our faculty and students have put into living up to our reputation.

“With the opening of the new Interactive Media Building within the School of Cinematic Arts,” she added, “we’ve really begun to establish a center for cutting-edge, groundbreaking work in interactive media and storytelling.”

USC has held the top spot for each year The Princeton Review has released its rankings, which evaluate schools with the best programs to study video game design. The ranking is based on a survey conducted in 2013-14 of 150 programs at institutions offering video game design coursework and/or degrees in the United States and Canada.

The survey asked schools to report on multiple topics ranging from academic offerings and faculty credentials to graduates’ employment and professional achievements. Among criteria weighed by The Princeton Review to make its selections: school curriculum, faculty, facilities and infrastructure, career services, student scholarships and financial aid.

“One of the things that keeps USC Games No. 1 is our yearlong “Advanced Games” course,” said Mike Zyda, founding director of the USC GamePipe Laboratory and professor of engineering practice. “Students build games together over the course of a year — games never seen before. It really recreates the experience of running a small studio from conception to final product; students get a look at the whole process.”

The Princeton Review ranked 50 schools in its latest survey. Overall, the report saluted 50 game design programs at 39 institutions.

USC Games, a joint effort between the Interactive Media & Games Division and USC Viterbi, encourages collaboration across all schools and divisions at the university.

Incorporating elements of design, artistry and engineering, the program serves as the launching pad for key roles in the field of game design.

The program’s successes include flOw, Flower, Journey, The Unfinished Swan, Darfur Is Dying and Star Wars 1313.

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