We here at GameTyrant are huge supporters of independent and student developers. Many of us have worked on small indie titles in one way or another and understand the love that goes into each and every one. When Wired Magazine posted on their website that the University of Southern California was opening its own studio I was overcome with a fit of gittiness. USC has been rated as the best college for game development in the country multiple years in a row. Many of their highest rated games to come out of this program you have probably already played. FlOw, The Unfinished Swan, and The Misadventures of P.B. Winterbottom were all very well received upon release, and they came straight out of USC. Designer on the Uncharted series, and one of the leads on the new publishing program, Richard Lemarchand had this to say.
For years now I’ve been seeing all of the great games that have come out of the program, games that were really of shippable quality, and that I’d wanted to see a wider exposure for [them]... The students are increasingly coming to us straight from high school with quite a large amount of game making experience. Perhaps they learned to code on their mother’s knee at the age of nine. That’s the kind of thing that we’re seeing, increasingly.
The USC publisher will begin with focus on internal student projects, but eventually will branch out beyond that. The team behind it wishes to see it as a curation of a wide selection of very artful and emotional games. Chair of the USC Interactive Media & Games Division, Tracy Fullerton, went into detail about her vision for publishing.
We are not expecting to make a profit. We hope that what we reap from this is cultural recognition of this form. When people look to academic publishers in the print area, you look at someone like an MIT Press. These are not books that are going to necessarily be on The New York Times best-seller list, but these are books that are important, that need to be out there in the zeitgeist. I feel like we can do something similar here with games.
It will be interesting to see what sort of artistic games come out of this. I've been to a lot of student showcases at different gaming schools, and many of these projects sadly never see the light of day. If this program can help even just a handful of great games get the recognition they deserve, then I'll be one happy camper.