Game academics lead a strange hybrid life. As members of the Ivory Tower we are supposed to be focused on the pure research lifestyle, unsullied by the siren song industry, commerce or filthy lucre. Yet we are all about a fiercely commercial enterprise. Yes there are art games, "serious games," games for education, etc. and that's where most of my personal creative efforts and energies lie. But at the end of the day the market really demands a commercial polish for even these non AAA efforts that requires serious resources to create.
Often this means that our campus-based efforts remain in the Twilight Zone of the prototype; proven concepts that are "not ready for prime-time." Frequently the way we get the resources to build these prototypes precludes our building them into finished projects or limits our ability to grow them to grant funds. These grant dollars are hard to come by, require massive reporting efforts on top of all the regular demands of development, and are rarely enough to take us where we need to go.
So today at RIT we are launching a dual-headed new entity called MAGIC (Media Arts Games Interactivity Creativity). Former Director of the School of Interactive Games and Media, Andy Phelps is leading MAGIC and I'm moving my labs and into it. MAGIC has a traditional Academic Research side and a Production Studio side with a stucture that will allows us to take the best of both worlds and move faculty, staff, projects and students across both entities. It will also allow us to engage with game studios as full partners in projects we bring to them and they bring to us.
While there are other universities who have built simillar entities before us, we have some distinguishing factors.
We've been teaching game design and development for over ten years and are regulalry ranked in the top ten for undergraduate and graduate education in games by the Princeton Review. We are one of the largest and most heavily technical of the programs out there, with literaly hundreds of students. What's more RIT is a co-op school, meaning that students must have two semesters of full-time, paid work as part of their graduation requirements. RIT students co-op at some of the biggest names in the industry already.
Now MAGIC gives us something that I've always wanted to have; a mechanism to partner with the industry directly on commercial projects by setting up remote development, content creation or QA partnerships in addition to having them take our students out on-site. It also allows us to much more easily seek industrial and commercial partnerships and resources on projects that originate with us.
If any of this sounds interesting to you, drop Andy or me a line or track us down at the RIT booth at GDC.