Tracy Fullerton

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Tracy Fullerton
Tracy Fullerton in 2013
Born (1965-06-21) June 21, 1965 (age 52)
Los Angeles, California, USA
Nationality United States American
Education USC School of Cinematic Arts, Los Angeles
Known for Game Design
Notable work The Night Journey (2007)
Walden, a game (2017)
Awards Indiecade Trailblazer 2013
Games for Change Game Changer 2015
Games for Change Game of the Year 2017 (Walden, a game)
Games for Change Most Significant Impact 2017 (Walden, a game)

Tracy Fullerton (born June 21, 1965) is an American game designer, educator and writer. She is a Professor in the USC Interactive Media & Games Division of the USC School of Cinematic Arts and Director of the Game Innovation Lab at USC. In 2014 she was named Director of the USC Games Program, an interdisciplinary collaboration between the School of Cinematic Arts and the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC.[1] From 2010 to 2017, she served as Chair of the USC Interactive Media & Games Division.


In December 2008, she was installed as the holder of the Electronic Arts Endowed Chair of Interactive Entertainment at USC.[2] Fullerton is the author of Game Design Workshop, a textbook advocating a playcentric design process. She was also faculty advisor for the award-winning student games Cloud and flOw, and game designer for The Night Journey, a game/art project in production with media artist Bill Viola, and Participation Nation, a game to teach Constitutional history being produced in collaboration with KCET and Activision. Her current project, Walden, a game, is supported by a media arts grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, one of the first video game projects to be awarded such a grant,[3] as well as the National Endowment for the Humanities.[4]

Prior to joining the USC faculty, she was president and founder of the interactive television game developer, Spiderdance, Inc. Spiderdance’s games included NBC’s Weakest Link, MTV’s webRIOT, The WB’s No Boundaries, History Channel’s History IQ, Sony Game Show Network’s Inquizition and TBS’s Cyber Bond. Before starting Spiderdance, Fullerton was a producer and creative director at the New York design firm R/GA Interactive. While there, she created games and interactive products for clients including Sony, Intel, Microsoft, AdAge, Ticketmaster, Compaq, and Warner Bros. among many others. Her projects include Sony’s Multiplayer Jeopardy! and Multiplayer Wheel of Fortune and MSN’s NetWits, an early multiplayer casual game launched in 1996.[5] Additionally, Fullerton was Creative Director at the interactive film studio Interfilm, where she wrote and co-directed the “cinematic game” Ride for Your Life, which starred Adam West and Matthew Lillard.[6] She began her career as a designer at Robert Abel’s company Synapse, where she worked on the interactive documentary Columbus: Encounter, Discovery and Beyond and other early interactive projects.

Fullerton’s work has received numerous industry honors including an Emmy nomination for interactive television, best Family/Board Game from the Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences, I.D. Magazine’s Interactive Design Review, Communication Arts Interactive Design Annual, several New Media Invision awards, iMix Best of Show, the Digital Coast Innovation Award, IBC’s Nombre D’Or, Time Magazine’s Best of the Web, IndieCade's Festival of Independent Games, The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Power 100 and Fortune's 10 Powerful Women in Videogames.[7]

Fullerton appeared in Danny Ledonne's documentary Playing Columbine.

She is the cousin of television, novel, comic and game writer Charlotte Fullerton.


In Walden, a game, Tracy Fullerton designed a conceptional, experiential game that stimulates the philosophy of living the simplified experience articulated by poet, Henry David Thoreau. It puts Thoreau’s ideas about life into playable form.[8] The game exemplifies Fullerton’s teaching methods, where she has students make games based on short stories or poetry. She encourages designers to find inspiration in activities that have meaning to them and then see where that leads. She says “Serendipity is a great design strategy, and letting yourself recognize that you’ve found something great even though you weren’t."[9] Walden, a game was released on on July 4, 2017 and subsequently named Game of the Year and Most Significant Impact at the 2017 Games for Change awards.[10]




  1. ^
  2. ^ Fullerton Installed as Endowed Professor, USC news, Dec. 17, 2008
  3. ^ NEA Arts: Level Up!, The Official Blog of the NEA, March 8, 2013
  4. ^ USC professor Tracy Fullerton is getting $100,000 from the NEH to design a game based on Thoreau's Walden, LA Times, Dec. 9, 2014
  5. ^ MobyGames - NetWits for Windows, MobyGames Game Database
  6. ^ Ride for Your Life (1995) on IMDb
  7. ^ 10 Powerful Women in Videogames,, September 23, 2014
  8. ^ a b "SAS 2013". Retrieved 2016-06-26. 
  9. ^ Zungre, Jonathan (September 11, 2012). "Game Designers in Detail: Tracy Fullerton". Game Center, NYU. Retrieved June 26, 2016. 
  10. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  11. ^ "IndieCade 2012 Award Winners-The Complete List". October 2012. Retrieved 2013-03-07. 

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