THQ opens new usability lab at The Guildhall at SMU

Video game producer THQ Inc. announces it will open a new, state-of-the-art usability lab at The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University.

Interactive entertainment software giant THQ Inc. has announced that it will open a new, state-of-the-art usability lab at The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University

The THQ-sponsored lab will serve as a primary usability test center for all of the company’s titles.  THQ personnel will run the center and manage test activities, led by Dr. Karl Steiner, senior manager of Usability.

In addition to his work with THQ, Steiner is an active member of the research community, contributing to game and usability-oriented groups within the Association for Computer Machinery (ACM SIGCHI), the Usability Professionals Association (UPA), and other organizations.

“By developing our lab at SMU, THQ is getting more than just a first-class testing facility, we’re also joining a community of dedicated gamers,” said Steiner.  “We look forward to collaborating with SMU faculty members and students on test and research activities as well as contributing to the development of the next generation of gaming talent.”

THQ expects the lab to be fully operational by summer 2010.  In addition to enhanced game testing capabilities, the shared location will generate important opportunities for collaboration with faculty and the post-graduate community, as well as potential paid internships and research projects.  The Guildhall at SMU will be the only top graduate video game design and development program with an on-site Usability Lab.

“We are incredibly excited by this opportunity for collaboration with one of the game industry’s leading global publishers,” said Peter Raad, executive director of The Guildhall at SMU. “THQ’s presence at SMU will have a significant impact on its faculty and students by providing valuable hands-on access to professional video game usability equipment.”

Raad continued, “Students will also have the opportunity to interact with industry executives who can offer topical and real-world insights on video game design and production. In return, THQ will be able to tap into 120 of the most serious, experienced gamers in the US for testing, consultation and research.”   

With SMU’s significant footprint in the game development community, and as one of only a few universities in the nation that offers a graduate degree in video game development, THQ views SMU as the ideal location to support the company’s ongoing efforts to enhance its portfolio of hit franchises.

“The standard for creating great games rises higher and higher as the industry continues to uncover innovative and cutting edge concepts in gaming,” said Danny Bilson, Executive Vice President, THQ Core Games.  “As game design evolves, it is critical that we keep the basic needs of gamers at the forefront of our minds by continuing to develop titles that ensure user-friendly, intuitive game play.  We are confident that our investment to expand THQ’s usability resources with the new Lab located at SMU will allow us to augment our track record of consistently delivering highly-rated titles with tried-and-tested playability.”

Bilson continued, “THQ has firmly established itself as a leading game publisher with recent hits such as UFC® 2009 Undisputed™, Red Faction: Guerrilla™ and Darksiders™, and we plan to draw on this momentum to enhance our portfolio and generate more multi-million unit selling games for our growing customer base.”

About THQ

THQ Inc. is a leading worldwide developer and publisher of interactive entertainment software.  The company develops its products for all popular game systems, personal computers and wireless devices.   Headquartered in Los Angeles County, California, THQ sells products through its global network of offices located throughout North America, Europe and Asia Pacific.  More information about THQ and its products can be found at and

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 330 students, and alums have worked at more than 80 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

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