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SMU Guildhall students test student-made video game

Guildhall: the Hidden Treasure of SMU

Nov 06, 2023

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Did you know that SMU has a world-renowned, graduate-level video game design program? SMU Guildhall is the hidden treasure of SMU, housed in the Gerald J. Ford Hall for Research and Innovation near Simmons. SMU Guildhall was established in 2003 through the Linda and Mitch Hart Center, and it has held a position in the Top 10 ranking for game development by the Princeton Review.

SMU Guildhall GameLab

One of the reasons that Guildhall has maintained its title as a premier graduate-level video game design program is that the best of the best comprise the Guildhall faculty. Each faculty member has at least five years of industry experience and three major titles. Consequently, this level of experience comes with extensive networks because students are learning from those who have developed video games at the highest level. Guildhall boasts partnerships with industry giants such as Gearbox Software, Blizzard Entertainment, and Electronic Arts (EA). These partnerships provide ample opportunity for those in the program, from adjunct faculty to visits from these major studios to look at Guildhall productions.

There are four specializations within video game development, and Guildhall is the only program that offers all four. These are Art Creation, Level Design, Production, and Software Development. Students work both within their specializations and on cross-disciplinary teams to develop games.

Since its founding, Guildhall students have created more than 450 team games. For example, Mouse Playhouse is a Guildhall Team Game Project, developed by 18 cohort members. In this virtual reality game, the player solves puzzles and overcomes the “Meowbots” to guide their mice to the cheese. Mouse Playhouse is available for download from Steam.

Gary Brubaker, the director of Guildhall, describes video game production as the ultimate expression of creativity; there are no limits to your imagination. Guildhall is more than entertainment; students are also interested in the larger impact video games have on the world. The virtual world has become highly impactful in areas of human communication and learning. Consequently, the virtual world will likely shape what it means to be human over the next 50 years. 

Interested in joining the hidden treasure of SMU? Each of the four specialties has specific portfolio requirements. Guildhall notes that many applicants likely do not possess experience in video game development; thus, they present assignments that will act as your portfolio and allow applicants to be creative. Previous applicants have come from various backgrounds, from computer science to creative writing to music! You can take the Guildhall specialization quiz to determine the right path for you.