July 27, 2010
The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University welcomes two new faculty members to its cadre of industry veterans who serve as full-time instructors in the graduate-level video game development program. Michael “Mick” Mancuso and Jani Kajala will teach level design and game engine design, respectively, beginning in August of this year.
“We are extremely pleased to have Jani and Mick join our team,” said Dr. Peter Raad, founder and executive director of The Guildhall at SMU. “They both possess the expertise and unique backgrounds that complement our over-arching mission, which is to offer students not only a curriculum that is industry-driven, but also a rich, relevant experience that better prepares them for excellence in the real world.”
Finland-born Kajala received his Master of Science in Computer Science from Helsinki University and minored in mathematics and physics. Co-founding a game company when he was 18 years old, Kajala has since launched several game and software companies, including 3D-mobile game startup, Pixelgene, which was acquired in 2006 by Rovio Mobile, one of the largest European independent developers at that time. His work has taken him all over the globe and includes software projects ranging from games to 3D-technology development, web services, mobile games and multi-touch systems software. Kajala’s portfolio of game programming titles includes Max Payne, Thrust, Twist’n’Turn, Sega Rally Revo and Need for Speed Carbon. He also co-authored Making a Game Demo: from Concept to Demo Gold with professors Chad Walker and Eric Walker, both SMU faculty members.
With a Master of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Washington, Mancuso parlayed his success as a professional actor and his love of video games into a lucrative career that has spanned more than 20 years and resulted in 20-plus shipped titles. He is distinguished in game design and production, having served in senior capacities for both specializations. In his dual role as producer and designer, he led the team responsible for critically acclaimed Mech Warrior 3, winner of the prestigious “Origins Award for Best Action Computer Game.” His resume includes such successful franchises as Lord of the Rings, Command and Conquer, Star Trek and 7th Legion. Mancuso also brings extensive experience in the design and production of training games for the United States Army, Singapore Armed Forces and the FDIC.
About The Guildhall at SMU
The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University is the premier graduate video game education program in the U.S. Many of the school’s founders are industry icons, and classes are taught by industry veterans. In six years, the program has graduated over 350 students, and alums have worked at more than 100 video game studios around the world, with several graduates now serving in leadership positions. SMU offers both a Master’s degree and a graduate Professional Certificate of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development, with specializations in art creation, level design, and software development. For more information, please visit http://guildhall.smu.edu.