Top ranking graduate program for video game development celebrates 20th anniversary
The Guildhall, SMU’s premier graduate-level video game development program, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this November. With a highly experienced faculty and specializations in all four cornerstones of game development, the program has helped hundreds of students achieve rewarding careers in the gaming industry.
DALLAS (SMU) – The Guildhall, SMU’s premier graduate-level video game development program, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this November. With a highly experienced faculty and specializations in all four cornerstones of game development, the program has helped hundreds of students achieve rewarding careers in the gaming industry.
Its strong alumni network has established the Guildhall’s reputation as one of the top graduate programs in game design, as recognized by The Princeton Review. In May, the program celebrated its 1,000th graduate.
"Over the past 20 years, we have built a reputation of consistent quality – quality of students, alumni, and contributions to the gaming industry,” said Elizabeth Stringer, Guildhall director of academics and faculty. “Our students graduate with the equivalent of two years of experience, know how to work effectively with others, and have skillsets attractive to top recruiters."
The Guildhall was initially established through the Linda and Mitch Hart eCenter at the request of the gaming industry to train its future leaders. Students currently train in the specializations of art creation, level design, production, and software development. Throughout their studies they develop independent projects and cross-disciplinary team games, with their final gaming capstone projects made available for anyone to play for free on the online platform Steam.
Director Gary Brubaker points out that the Guildhall’s location at SMU roots it in the Texas video game industry corridor, offering visibility to and opportunity for internships and employment with video game industry leaders in the area. Brubaker noted that the Guildhall’s relocation to the university’s main campus from a satellite campus in Plano in 2020 accelerated its ability to partner with different university departments for research and learning aids.
For example, the Guildhall has worked with SMU's human trafficking research team and the Department of Biological Sciences to enhance data-driven research by leveraging the power of video games. The Guildhall also worked with the Simmons School of Education and Human Development on MathFinder, a unique set of gaming tools to help students engage with mathematical concepts outside the classroom, and the “PeopleForWords Codex: Lost Words of Atlantis,” an adult literacy adventure game app.
The Guildhall’s founding director, Peter Raad, expressed his gratitude to the Linda and Mitch Hart eCenter and SMU leaders for their initial investment and continuous support of the program. He and Guildhall’s current leaders believe its legacy will continue to make a difference in the gaming industry and other areas of academia for years to come.
SMU is the nationally ranked global research university in the dynamic city of Dallas. SMU’s alumni, faculty and more than 12,000 students in eight degree-granting schools demonstrate an entrepreneurial spirit as they lead change in their professions, communities and the world.