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USC students show off video game skills to talent scouts

May 4, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
To the untrained eye, video-gaming is a diversion from reality, high-tech fun and games. But the people running the University of Southern California look at this and see jobs in a multi-billion dollar market that is both, literally and figuratively, exploding.

"Video games is an industry that is larger than the cinema industry," said Mike Zyda, director of USC's GamePipe Lab.

Hence, the reason for USC's video game design curriculum that goes by the trendy name of GamePipe.

You may hear that name a lot, because it's ranked the No. 1 college video game development program by the Princeton Review. GamePipe students form teams and spend a year creating games from scratch. On Demo Day, they unveil those creations to an audience full of video game developers from the biggest companies around the world.

"We've got Electronic Arts, Activision, and Intel. It's a wonderful time to celebrate the students' work and show off to their fellow students and industry people what they've done," said Zyda.

Showing off is one thing, but the real goal of Demo Day is to get your video game out there.

"Ideally we'd be able to get our game published, and really get it out there so people can enjoy it," said Mike Sennott.

Bill Petro of Activision said the students are the game makers of the future.

"We try to see what's being made, what's cool, what's hot, and maybe recruit some talent," said Petro.

Encouraging words for the roughly 300 students going through GamePipe. And remember, if you catch them playing video games, they really are studying.