The Guildhall at SMU

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
SMU Guildhall
Type Graduate School
Established 2003
Director Gary Brubaker
Postgraduates 604
Location Plano, Texas, United States
Website Official Site

SMU Guildhall is a graduate video game development program located at the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Plano campus.[1] It was one of the first graduate video game development programs in the United States. It is currently ranked #3 among the Top 25 Graduate Schools for Game Design by the Princeton Review.[2]


The program was founded in 2003. It has more than 600 alumni, who have secured jobs and internships at over 200 studios including: Gearbox, Activision, Electronic Arts, Rockstar, Obsidian, id Software, Riot Games, Dreamworks Animation, Disney Interactive, Gameloft, Bungie, Valve Corporation, ZeniMax Media, Raven Software, High Voltage, Ritual, KingsIsle, Blizzard, Sony, Google, Insomniac, High Moon, Playful, Shiver, LucasArts, Infinity Ward, Crystal Dynamics, Telltale Games, BioWare, Crytek, Firaxis, Certain Affinity, Volition, BattleCry, Retro Studios, Gunfire Games, Escalation Studios, and Foundation 9.[3]

Faculty are industry veterans, who have worked at over 40 game studios including: Activision, Atari, Day 1 Studios, Electronic Arts, Gearbox Software, id Software, LucasArts, Microsoft Studios, Red Storm, Retro Studios, Robot Entertainment, Sega of America, Sony Online Entertainment, and Ubisoft Entertainment.[4]

Program and Classes[edit]

The Guildhall offers a Master of Interactive Technology degree and a Graduate Professional Certificate, with specializations in Art Creation, Level Design, Production, and Programming. The program is 24 months long.[5]

Students are admitted every Fall and Spring. The student body and alumni represent 48 states and 13 countries, and come from a variety of undergraduate majors and backgrounds.

Students work in teams, and projects mimic real-world studio environments and development cycles. Each student creates at least 3 original games from start to finish using Unity and Unreal 4, plus a Thesis project and/or Directed Focus Study. The Guildhall student body has completed over 1,180 directed focus studies, 292 master theses & 450 team games.

SMU Guildhall offers 150 graduate classes annually dedicated to game design. Each cohort of Guildhall students complete 11 core courses together, which are designed to teach the theory and practice of game design: 3 game design courses, 3 game studies courses, and 5 team game production courses in which students build and iterate game designs based on user testing. Masters students complete 5 additional courses to create projects focused on advancing game design research. All Guildhall students enroll in 2 professional development and 1 ethics course related to a professional career in game development. Remaining coursework is individualized per specialization in art, design, production, and programming, with each student taking majors, minors, directed focus studies, and special topics relative to their degree.[6]

Professional development courses include portfolio reviews, resume development, mock interviews, and networking opportunities at special events on-campus and at national conferences like GDC.

Industry Sponsored Projects[edit]

Game companies and organizations like Blizzard, ZeniMax, Robot, Gearbox and the PCGA enlist Guildhall students to beta test development builds of their games for user research.

Intel, Dell, Microsoft, Oculus Rift, and America’s Army have funded research projects for Guildhall students through grants, scholarships, and technology.


Awards and Honors[edit]

  • Kraven Manor: Steam Greenlight accepted the student game project Kraven Manor to be sold in its online store. It reached #1 in 2013 with over 110,000 downloads and 1 playthrough on YouTube receiving over 2.5 million views.[12]
  • 2014 Intel University Game Showcase - Best Gameplay
  • 2014 Intel University Game Showcase - Best Visual Quality
  • 2013 Game Narrative Review – placed
  • 2013 20 over 20 Hackathon - 1st and 3rd place
  • 2012 Industry Giants Student Art and Animation Competition - 2nd Place in Modeling and Texturing
  • 2012 GDC Online Narrative - won and placed
  • 2011 “Blizzard Student Art Contest” - Environmental Runner Up
  • 2011 Indie Game Challenge Grand Prize Winner (Non-Professional), Technical Achievement, Achievement in Gameplay, & Gamer's Choice Award - won
  • 2011 STEM Video Game Challenge - 1 of 3 finalist presented in DC
  • 2011 GDC Online Narrative - won and placed
  • 2009 Independent Game Festival “Student Showcase” - won first round
  • 2008 Independent Game Festival “Student Showcase” - regional winner
  • 2008 Intel Game Demo Contest - finalist
  • 2007 Independent Game Festival “Student Showcase” - won
  • 2007 Independent Game Festival “Best Singleplayer FPS Mod Professional Category” - won
  • 2007 Texas Instruments DLP Products ”Next Generation Gaming Projectors Competition” - 3 students won scholarships
  • 2006 Independent Game Festival “Mod Competition” - 2 games were finalists
  • 2004 Make Something Unreal “Educational Category” - 2 games received 4th place

External links[edit]

Notable mentions[edit]