New York University today announced the creation of the NYU Game Center, a pioneering new University-wide academic initiative for the research, design, and development of digital games. Drawing on a faculty that teaches nearly 70 courses related to game design across NYU, the center would have as its long term goal graduate and undergraduate degrees. The Center will be a collaboration of faculty members in computer science, engineering, new media theory, and the arts.

The NYU Game Center has been initially funded with an anonymous gift of $ 1 million and a $200,000 grant from The Rockefeller Foundation’s NYC Cultural Innovation Fund, a new initiative that supports creative engagement with the issues shaping the City’s creative future. The Center’s initial home will be in the Skirball Center for New Media in the Tisch School of the Arts. An advisory committee made up of NYU faculty and staff is presently conducting a search for a director of the Center. A related effort, the Games for Learning Institute, was launched in October 2008 with $1.5 million in funding from Microsoft. The Institute will provide the fundamental scientific evidence to support the potential of games as learning tools for math and science subjects among middle-school students.

“Digital games are becoming more and more a part of our mainstream culture the world over,” said Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. “Not only are they enormously popular, but the appeal of digital games cuts across all ages and gender. The Tisch School is proud to participate with Steinhardt, Courant, and NYU Poly in this important initiative to establish a multi-school center for game study and development. ”

David W. McLaughlin, provost of NYU, said “Modern video games are, at heart, cross-disciplinary creations that draw on talents from across a university community: mathematicians, computer scientists, engineers, artists, dramatic writers. The mission of the NYU Game Center, to be sure, will be to produce the next generation of game designers, entrepreneurs, and researchers, and to advance the science, technology, and practice of gaming through research; Beyond that, we also look to this new center as a laboratory for innovation, intellectual risk-taking, and cross-disciplinary collaborations.”

The Center is a partnership between several NYU schools and affiliates: the Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences; the Polytechnic Institute of NYU; the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; and the Tisch School of the Arts. Beginning in spring 2009, the Center will offer a series of talks and panel discussions that will be open to the public and featuring leading game designers. In fall 2009, it will offer undergraduate courses to 10-12 students a year who may choose a minor, major or double major. Graduate courses are slated for fall 2010. Approximately six graduate students a year will be admitted to the two-year Master’s program or certificate program.

The NYU Game Center’s interim director is Frank Lantz, adjunct assistant professor in the Tisch School’s Interactive Telecommunications Program. “I am excited to be a part of this historic new initiative in gaming at New York University,” he said. “The work going on across the University in this field has made NYU one of the most vibrant gaming institutions on the east coast.”

Lantz, a game designer who has worked in the field of game development for 20 years, is also creative director and co-founder of the game development firm area/code. He has taught game design at New York University, the School of Visual Arts, and the New School. His writings on games, technology and culture have appeared in a variety of publications.

Members of the advisory committee for the NYU Game Center are: Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean, Tisch School of the Arts; Sheril Antonio, associate arts professor, associate dean of Film, TV, and New Media, and interim chair, Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music, Tisch School of the Arts; Bonita Engel, area manager for Skirball Center for New Media; Alexander R. Galloway: associate professor, Department of Media, Culture, and Communication at The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; Leslie Greengard, professor, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and director of Courant; Katherine Isbister, associate professor, Polytechnic Institute of NYU, with an affiliation at the ITU Copenhagen Center for Computer Games Research; Frank Lantz; Yann LeCun, professor, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences; Rosanne Limoncelli, director of production for Film& New Media, Kanbar Institute of Film & Television; Ken Perlin, professor, Media Research Laboratory, Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, and the Center for Advanced Technology; Ron Robin, professor and associate dean for Academic Affairs, The Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, and Dan Shiffman, assistant arts professor, Interactive Telecommunications Program at the Tisch School.

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