One of the premier schools for game design, the University of Southern California, is going into the publishing business.
The University will be launching a new label, USC Games Publishing, to help work by students and faculty reach an audience on multiple platforms.
According to USC Games director Tracy Fullerton talking with Wired, “There’s a tremendous amount of content available for people to find, and yet it’s very difficult to find. One of the ways that … this label that we’re establishing can participate is by curating important voices, really innovative work, and putting it out there under our publishing label.”
One of the first games to be released under the label is Chambara, a local multiplayer deathmatch game by a dev team called Overly Kinetic, which features a black and white color scheme that allows players to hide in the background and stealthily assassinate their opponents. A former undergraduate title from former USC students, the game has already won a BAFTA award as “Ones to Watch”- a celebration of new talent in the video game industry.
The label will first work with USC students, but there are plans by the University to extend their label to outside developers, promising near-total creative control of their products. Along with Chambara, other titles being published include The Night Journey, a game c0-created by Fullerton with new media artist Bill Viola, and The Cat and the Coup, a documentary game where you play the pet cat of Dr. Mohammad Mossadegh, the first democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran.
The University of Southern California is one of the most prestigious universities in the United States for game design, voted the best in the country five out of the past six years in the Princeton Review. USC is notable for famous alumni in the gaming industry, such as Jenova Chen, who created the game Fl0w as his master thesis in 2007, and designer Richard Lemarchand, who not only teaches at USC, but also works on the Uncharted series for Naughty Dog. Other games from USC students have been re-made for release, including The Unfinished Swan and The Misadventures of P.B Winterbottom.
Fullerton’s goals for the label are mostly to serve a creative outlet for game designers. “We are not expecting to make a profit,” she said to Wired. “We hope that what we reap from this is cultural recognition of this form. When people look to academic publishers in the print area, you look at someone like an MIT Press. These are not books that are going to necessarily be on The New York Times best-seller list, but these are books that are important, that need to be out there in the zeitgeist. I feel like we can do something similar here with games.”
So what do you think about the news? Will the labels see some good games out of the University of Southern California? Leave your comments below.