Coffee Talk #473: Judging Student Games at USC
Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, devouring New York pizza, devouring New York chicken parm sammiches, or Ashton Kutcher going on vacation with Mila Kunis (nooooooo!!!), Coffee Talk is the place to do it.
Instead of my usual evening of WWE Monday Night Raw, I spent last Monday at the USC School of Cinematic Arts judging student projects. My excellent friend Joseph Olin teaches a graduate school class there called The Business of Interactive Media. The projects covered a wide range of topics. I got to see traditional games, social networking apps, educational projects, and even a modern interpretation of Hindu scriptures. The projects were very cool…
…but not as cool as the students! It was inspiring and refreshing to hear pitches from MFA students instead of people already in the gaming business. You could feel the passion and energy as the students spoke about their projects. There was a certain purity in their visions — a charming mixture of smarts, bravery, and naïveté combined with a lack of experience that didn’t let them know, “Hey! You can’t do that!” It was beautiful to watch, listen to, and learn from these cats.
The shocking part was that I offered a bunch of suggestions on how to monetize their projects. As most of you know, I’m not the most business-minded person in the world. So I was surprised that I became that guy for one class. “This would be a cool project for Microsoft Surface. Have you thought about partnering with MS?” “This seems like a project XXXX would grossly overpay for!” “How about partnering with AT&T to sponsor an event like Coachella and using your app to sponsor signal trucks?” I felt a little dirty trying to taint these pure visions. Ha!
Anyway, that was a brief rundown of my Monday spent judging interactive media projects at USC. It was a lot of fun and very inspiring. Thanks to Joseph and all the MFA students for the experience!