Zynga, a social game developer, has made a substantial gift to USC to promote the study of social mobile games, inclusive game production and advancing diversity in the industry.

The gift was announced jointly by Frank Gibeau, CEO of Zynga and Tracy Fullerton, chair of the USC School of Cinematic Arts’ Interactive Media & Games Division and director of USC Games.  The gift funds three years of class curriculum and an event series of panels and lectures on inclusivity and diversity in the video game industry.

“We’re proud to partner with the USC School of Cinematic Arts to invest in the next generation of social game developers,” said Frank Gibeau, CEO of Zynga. “We’re continually impressed with the USC faculty and inspired by our interactions with students across the campus. USC has always taken a cutting-edge approach to advancing the intersection of entertainment and business innovation, and we’re thrilled to share our unique view on how to blend art and science disciplines in social mobile gaming. As a proud alumni, it’s also rewarding to see a diverse mix of Zynga employees return to USC to share their skills and perspectives on new tech frontiers and career opportunities in gaming.”

Zynga’s support will fund a class on creating social mobile games using Zynga’s design methodology. The class will begin in the fall of 2017 and extend through the spring of 2020.  The program will not only advance social mobile game exploration and innovation, but will also incorporate best practices for team building production.

Students from across the USC campus who are interested in innovative game design, as well as inclusivity and diversity in the development of social mobile games will have access to the course.

In addition to the class, Zynga will also sponsor an event series covering production, creative, and engineering topics with experts representing an array of disciplines in the social mobile space, including the company’s Women at Zynga employee group.

The series kicked off with alumni speakers Anshul Dhawan (Computer Science Games ‘10) and Anna Huerta (Interactive Media & Games ’09 & Rossier ME Educational Psychology & Instructional Technology ‘10), both now long time employees at Zynga.  Students across the USC campus are invited to attend all upcoming events.

Tracy Fullerton, Chair of the USC School of Cinematic Art’s Interactive Media & Games Division and Director of USC Games, says, “This gift shows a great commitment on the part of Zynga to some of our shared core values: innovation in games coupled with best practices for inclusive production teams. So many of our alumni are working at Zynga that it’s a natural fit for us to work with them to help more young designers and developers learn these core skills.”

As part of its work with the University, Zynga has also partnered with the Marshall School of Business on a Product Management Bootcamp program for MBA candidates. The Bootcamp features seven sessions on social game development covering Product Management fundamentals including product lifecycle and design, A/B testing and product growth strategies.

The initial pilot concluded in April 2017 with students participating in the first ever Zynga Product Case Competition at USC. The Zynga PM Bootcamp will continue with a new cohort of students in the Fall of 2017.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

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