Award-winning game designers Brenda and John Romero are to lead a new masters degree programme in games and playable media offered at UCSC’s Silicon Valley Center.
Programme director Brenda Romero (nee Brathwaite) came to UC Santa Cruz in January 2013 as the first game designer in residence at the Center for Games and Playable Media, where she has been teaching and advising students.
A game designer, artist, writer, and creative director, Brenda entered the video game industry in 1981 at the age of 15, and this year received the 2013 Women in Games Lifetime Achievement Award from Microsoft for her contributions to the game industry.
John Romero has worked on iconic games such as Wolfenstein 3D, Doom and Quake, as well as co-founded eight game companies, including id Software, Gazillion Entertainment and Loot Drop.
As creative director of the Games and Playable Media masters programme at UCSC, he will teach courses, mentor students, and help shape the overall creative vision for the programme. He will be there to push students beyond what they already know to create novel possibilities for playable experiences.
“We are very excited to have two highly accomplished veterans of the game industry coming on board to direct our new professional degree programme,” said Jim Whitehead, professor and chair of the Computer Science Department.
“They have been involved in the development of a huge number of games and game studios, and they have created some of the most influential games, both in mainstream culture and in the art world.”
As program director at UCSC, Brenda Romero oversees the curriculum and instructors, teaches and mentors students and builds connections with companies in the computer game industry.
“Industry connections are very important for this program, so that students can interact with people in the game industry through visiting speakers, master classes, internships, and other opportunities,” said Brenda Romero.
“The individuals on our advisory board represent a diverse cross-section of the game industry, from the hardcore triple-A space to those defining the indie space.”
John Romero added: “In creating games, I look for innovative ways to explore spaces and game mechanics, doing things other games have not done. In working with UCSC, my goal is to push students toward innovation while working on my own new indie projects alongside them.”
The programme’s advisory board also has leading game developers including Will Wright (Stupid Fun Club), Harvey Smith (Arkane), Derek Yu (Spelunky), Robin Hunicke (Funomena), Ben Prunty (FTL) and Brian Schwab (Blizzard).
The masters in games and playable media is a year-long (12 month) degree focused on combining technical and design innovation.
Both John and Brenda Romero also have previous experience leading game programmes at other universities. Brenda Romero has served as chair of the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Interactive Design and Game Development department, while John Romero has helped establish the Digital Games Guildhall program at Southern Methodist University.