Chris Swain (game designer)

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Chris Swain is an American game designer, entrepreneur, and professor. He is the founder and CEO of Cred.fm, a technology company that delivers music playlists everywhere. He worked full time as a professor at USC 2004-2011 and is now part-time faculty in the USC Viterbi School of Engineering, Computer Science Department.

At USC Chris co-founded the Electronic Arts Game Innovation Lab and was co-author of the book "Game Design Workshop" which is used at many of the over 700 college game programs around the world. He served as a thesis advisor to Jenova Chen and the project fl0w which began as Chen's MFA thesis and was the basis for the game developer thatgamecompany which has won multiple Game of the Year awards in industry. In addition Swain was a faculty advisor to seven student games accepted into the Independent Games Festival including the award-winning Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom.

His USC research projects include:

  • The New New Deal – funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. A simulation game based on the writings of Los Angeles Times economics correspondent Peter Gossellin. The game explores the shifts in the US economy from a new deal economy (in which economic risk was largely shouldered by government and corporations) to an ownership economy (in which risk is shouldered more by individual households).
  • Enhanced Learning with Creative Technologies (ELECT-BiLat) – funded by the United States Army. It’s a PC game that teaches cultural sensitivity and bi-lateral negotiation. This game has a unique conversation engine that allows players to derive meaningful play from conversational actions vs physical actions. The project was produced for USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies.[3]

Prior to coming to USC Chris was a founding member of the New York design firm R/GA Interactive. At R/GA he led development of over 50 interactive products for companies that include Microsoft, Sony, Disney, Activision, America Online, Warner Bros., PBS, BBC, Intel, IBM, Kodak, Discovery Channel, Ticketmaster, and many other companies. Notable projects include: Netwits for the Microsoft Network, Multiplayer Jeopardy! and Multiplayer Wheel of Fortune for Sony Online, Stickerworld for Children's Television Workshop, and Poetry of Structure – the interactive companion to Ken Burns’ documentary about Frank Lloyd Wright.

Chris was VP of Programming at game developer Spiderdance, Inc. Spiderdance’s participatory television projects included webRIOT[4] for MTV and Weakest Link Interactive for NBC among others.

Chris has served on the Board of Directors of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (Emmy’s) and on the Board of Advisors for the American Film Institute’s Enhanced Television Workshop, Games for Change, Annenberg Innovation Lab, Game Education Summit, and other organizations. He started his career in at Robert Abel’s pioneering interactive software company Synapse Technologies.

His projects have received many awards including Time Magazine’s Best of the Web.

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