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  The Show Must Go On! – USC Games and Jam City Announce a Digital Event to Showcase the Future of Gaming at the USC Games Expo 2020
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04/02/2020
 


[This unedited press release is made available courtesy of Gamasutra and its partnership with notable game PR-related resource GamesPress.]

LOS ANGELES – April 2, 2020 –  USC Games, North America’s No. 1 game design program for nearly a decade according to the Princeton Review, once again spearheads the future of digital entertainment, as the annual USC Games Expo—in an ongoing partnership with Jam City—moves ahead as scheduled, in a virtual capacity.  For the first time ever, this year’s Expo will take place entirely online, on May 12th, 2020 starting at 4PM PST, with a “Preview” show exclusively for prospective applicants still in junior high and high school the day prior on May 11th, 2020.  The May 12th event will stream on multiple platforms—including Twitch—and will be accessible via uscgamesexpo.com, where attendees can pre-reserve spots here beginning today http://uscgamesexpo2020.eventbrite.com/

“In these unprecedented times, video and mobile games are at the forefront of social entertainment, so it makes sense to work with our partners at Jam City to bring the USC Games Expo online so that our talented Trojan family can showcase their diverse and groundbreaking work to as many people as possible,” said Director of USC Games and screenwriter of the upcoming Spike Lee film, Da 5 Bloods, Danny Bilson. “Our students are the next generation of game design talent, and our virtual Expo is a chance for interested industry professionals, prospective students, scholars, faculty and the general public to experience their never-before-seen projects.”

This is the third year that the program—a joint initiative between the Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC School of Cinematic Arts—has held the Expo, the largest University-sponsored gaming and esports event in the world, traditionally hosting over 2,000 live attendees.  The show has been sponsored by Jam City each year, and it provides a glimpse into the nation’s leading game design program and into the next generation of tabletop, mobile, AR, video games and other interactive projects from across the university’s diverse students, alumni and faculty.  As it has historically, the Expo will also feature the first hands-on for the 12 projects being developed in its capstone course, the Advanced Games Program (AGP).

 “USC Games has a very unique approach to teaching that closely mimics real-world game creation, which includes prototyping, focusing on design, testing many iterations, and a commitment to countless improvements. Few educational institutions are able to replicate that kind of environment,” said Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO, Jam City. ”I’m pleased we were all able to find a way to still deliver the USC Games Expo online, as it’s that resilience and their innovative curriculum, which has produced numerous talented game makers – many of whom have gone on to work at some of the world’s biggest and best gaming companies, including Jam City.”

Similar to last year’s Expo, there will be an Esports component hosted and organized by the university’s Esports Union (ESU) and will feature Esports matches between two universities in the Southern California area as they compete in League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and more, all streamed online with the competing schools’ respective athletes safely maintaining quarantine.

Among the 90+ exhibits at this year’s event are these 12 featured AGP titles:

1.         Beasts of Maravilla Island (PC, Coming Soon for Nintendo Switch)

Embark on your adventure as an aspiring wildlife photographer in the hidden, magic jungles of Maravilla Island! Explore a mysterious 3D island and solve puzzles in order to discover extraordinary creatures, learn their unique behaviors, and photograph them in their natural habitat.

2.         Bottles (iOS)

Enter the lush, beautiful miniature world of Bottles: where anything is possible and magic is at your fingertips. Rotate space around your character to solve mind-bending puzzles as you play with a curious octopus, a glowing jellyfish and uncover the secrets of a deep-sea shipwreck!

3.         Ginkgo (PC)

Explore a dark dreamworld of creepy yokai monsters and unsolved mysteries. Use a magic needle to solve puzzles and unlock memories of your estranged mother. Will your journey lead you to make amends or be forever lost in this dark fantasy?

4.         Incursion (PC)

Real Time Strategy (RTS) players go head-to-head with First-Person Shooter (FPS) gamers in a multiplayer co-op competition that pits the two playstyles against each other!  Two forces collide in a battle where only one species will survive and claim a mysterious planet as their own.

5.         KOA (iOS)

Meet Koa, a magical tree spirit with the ability to grow branches that allow him to go almost anywhere! On a mission to protect his home, Koa will need his powers and your imagination to solve mysteries, discover secrets, and succeed in challenges in order to save his world.

6.         Our America (Oculus VR)

What starts as a simple commute for Malcolm and his Dad quickly escalates into a life-or-death encounter that both father and son will be lucky to survive.  Put on your VR headset and see life through the eyes of a Black person in the US as you take a ride in Our America.

7.         Project: Skyfarer (PC)

Physical therapy is necessary to prevent and treat pain or injury.  Project: Skyfarer adds game elements to traditional physical therapy - in the game, you are a Mesoamerican shaman, able to commune with nature, cast spells and manipulate the natural world around you.  Project: Skyfarer immerses the patient-player in this fantastical setting as they are guided to use their in-game abilities in ways that mirror and facilitate rehabilitation exercises for shoulder injuries. 

8.         Retronomicon (Android, PC)

Retronomicon is a 2.5D retro-inspired, synthwave arcade puzzle game where players gather energy in a level by placing obstacles that keep a ricocheting ball in motion for as long as possible before sending it into the goal. Play and Create in the Retronomicon Revolution!

9.         Serpent Showdown (PC, Coming Soon for Nintendo Switch)

Two tails enter, one tail leaves! You and a friend go head-to-head in a battle of the ages! It is time to don your... cardboard armor and grab your trusty crayon?! And guess what, it turns out you're a snake! Strike, slither and slash your way to victory in this entertaining couch-competitive arena fighter!

10.       Shortstacked (PC)

Team up with a friend in couch co-op to skip school and go on wild adventures! But BE CAREFUL: to get past adults and the mean ole “Ocifer,” one of you will have to stand on the other’s shoulders to look like a trenchcoat-wearing adult.  You’re short, but can you stack?

11.       The Candle (PC)

After waking in a pitch-black room, you’re lucky to stumble across a single, lit candle…that talks?  Using innovative eye-tracking technology, The Candle challenges you to discover the evil secrets of the house and escape.  And your new friend, the talking candle, is helpful…isn’t it…?

12.       The Witch List (iOS)

In this collectible digital card game, The Witch List offers you gesture-based spell summoning gameplay as you attend a school for witches where you can join a coven of friends to summon demons, learn powerful spells and work to become the most powerful sorcerer in the land!     

 About USC Games

USC Games is a flagship collaboration offered jointly by the School of Cinematic Arts Division of Interactive Media & Games and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering Computer Science Department. This unified brand allows press, industry, students and faculty to discuss the overall efforts at USC in games and simultaneously clarify the important distinctions between the offerings of the various programs.

The program at the School Cinematic Arts focuses on both the design and production of interactive media and games. Students emerge as creative media leaders, fluent in many forms of visual expression and storytelling, with a sophistication to design and develop innovative interactive experiences that expand the state of interactive art and play across domains, such as entertainment, education, health care and social action.

The Computer Science Games program at the USC Viterbi School of Engineering provides students with a grounding in the fundamentals of computer science and a cross-disciplinary background in game development. Students emerge with an engineering-oriented game-programming skillset, with an understanding of key technologies and the ability to lead complex technical teams in the development of games.

In addition to the advanced games class, USC Games offers the USC Games Expo and an annual industry event held at the Game Developers Conference. USC Games brings more shared courses under this umbrella, including those from other schools at [email protected].

About Jam City

Jam City is a global leader in mobile entertainment, providing social gaming experiences for millions of players around the world.  Jam City was founded in 2010 by MySpace cofounders Chris DeWolfe and Aber Whitcomb, and former 20th Century Fox executive Josh Yguado. Jam City is the creative powerhouse behind some of the highest grossing and most enduring social gaming franchises for mobile, including Cookie Jam (Facebook “Game of the Year” winner) and Panda Pop.  Jam City is the go-to studio for Hollywood, having developed immersive, narrative rich mobile games for iconic entertainment brands including Harry Potter, Family Guy and Marvel Avengers.  Jam City has 500 employees across studios in Los Angeles (HQ), San Francisco, San Diego, Bogota and Buenos Aires. The Jam City team is known for its creative excellence and technological innovation in key areas including storytelling, data science and consumer insights. http://www.jamcity.com/

About the USC School of Cinematic Arts

The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts is one of the leading film schools in the world. Founded in collaboration with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in 1929 over 90 years ago, the USC School of Cinematic Arts has fueled and mirrored the growth of entertainment as an industry and an art form. The School offers comprehensive programs in directing, producing, writing, critical studies, animation and digital arts, production, interactive media and games, all backed by a broad liberal arts education and taught by leading practitioners in each field. Its more than 13,000 alumni are among the world’s most distinguished animators, scholars, teachers, writers, directors, producers, cinematographers, editors, sound experts and industry executives. Since 1973 not a year has passed without an alumnus or alumna being nominated for an Academy Award.  http://cinema.usc.edu  

About the USC Viterbi School of Engineering

Founded in 1905, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering was named in 2003 as the Andrew and Erna Viterbi School of Engineering, honoring USC alumnus Andrew Viterbi, who developed an algorithm to connect the world. Located in Los Angeles, a global center for arts, technology, business and innovation in the heart of the Pacific Rim, USC Viterbi draws undergraduate and graduate students from all over the world. With more than 9,000 students, 300 faculty across all ranks and appointment levels, and more than 30 in-residence or affiliated members of the National Academies, Viterbi is the only engineering school in the nation with three top-10 USNWR rankings: Best Graduate Schools, Best Online Graduate Engineering Programs, and Best Online Information Technology Programs.  Under the leadership of Dean Yannis C. Yortsos, the school helps re-imagine the 21st century engineer, by pioneering the Grand Challenge Scholars Program, leading national efforts in enhancing diversity, and changing the conversation about engineering. With its vision of engineering a better world for all humanity, USC Viterbi embodies the power of engineering (Engineering+) to advance discovery and solutions across all disciplines, to serve California, the nation and the world. http://viterbi.usc.edu

Press Contacts for USC Games:

Nick LaTona/Johner Riehl

Wonacott Communications, LLC

(310) 477-2871

[email protected]