SMU makes footprint in video game world with Guildhall program

Apr 10, 2014
By Andrew Scoggin
Dallas Morning News Neighborsgo

When evaluating video-game creations, Southern Methodist University Guildhall student Christina Rhoades said the faculty doesn’t pull punches.

Instructors in SMU’s graduate program for game development recently sat down to test Identity, the final project for Rhoades and about 15 other students. The stealth game, set in a dystopian future, sees a protagonist sneak around and take guards’ identities, all in an effort to shut down a nefarious company that stole personas across the globe.

The game had polish, but design flaws came up. For instance, faculty member Michael McCoy told students filing cabinets were far too large, and chairs too small. At one point, an enemy guard briskly walked backward out of a room before wedging himself behind furniture.

“He moonwalked over here, and now he’s stuck,” McCoy said.

But Rhoades, an animator for Identity, said the feedback is valuable. After all, a recent Guildhall final project, Kraven Manor, won two awards last month at a prominent gaming conference, and soon it will go on sale on a well-known digital game store.

“The way [instructors] critique and give feedback is like in the industry,” Rhoades said.

The Guildhall, in its 10th school year, carries that professional influence throughout the program, director Gary Brubaker said. The program was named the No. 3 graduate school for game design in the country last month by The Princeton Review.

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