1. There are many institutions offering digital gaming programs -- what makes the Guildhall at SMU different?

I can't comment on other programs and institutions other than to say that, to date, I have met only one person who entered the industry via this academic door.

I can comment on the Guildhall, though, because I have played an integral role in its formation. I obviously have great hopes for the program's success as it will provide me, an owner of an independent game development company here in Dallas, with a talented and well-trained hiring base.

The Guildhall has pooled the talents of such esteemed professionals as Tom Hall, John Romero, Paul Jaquays, and Tim Willits. There are at least a dozen more professionals who have contributed to the program's creation, and many of us plan to teach at the institution, as well.

2. As an industry professional, why do you believe supporting the Guildhall is so important?

Again, it will provide me with a dependable and qualified source of future co-developers. Based at SMU, this source will be conveniently here in Dallas, where many of the industry's developers are located, including Ritual Entertainment. I have become involved so that I can assure the students are in fact receiving a viable and useful education and knowledge base.

3. You have helped create much of the Guildhall curriculum? What would you consider to be the most distinctive mark you have left on this program?

There are, basically, three disciplines in the gaming industry. The first is the programmers. They write the engine and game code, as well as development tools. Next, there are artists. They generate most of the assets for a game such as textures, character models, special effects, etc. Programmers and artists already have an established place in our educational system. Designing a curriculum for them was not a hard task.

The third discipline is loosely called level designing. Level designers generally create the environments that make a game's foundation. They are sort of like set designers. They are sort of like directors. They are sort of like lighting and sound engineers, too. They are like screenplay writers in an equivalent scheme we call "gameplay"? they cast geometry (architecture),? and they do a whole pile of other stuff that has never really been defined or even classified.

The Guildhall came to me to help put a curriculum in order for this new discipline of digital creation. So, the most distinctive mark I have left is that of a veteran pioneer on this new frontier. My experience, and that of my contributing cohorts, has provided a bona fide and reliable course for an individual to follow in order to successfully enter the professional world of game development.

4. As a professional who interviews and hires talent in the gaming industry, how do you see the Guildhall program impacting the digital gaming world in this regard?

I will rely on this program as a source for new talent, and I expect others in the industry will as well. It is very hard to find talented game developers. This is a very new profession, so the current pool of prospective employees is very shallow. This is a cutting-edge profession, too; one that demands a substantial and constantly rejuvenated education. I look forward to using the Guildhall as a trusted resource for finding new co-workers with such an education.

5. When you are ready to hire creative talent, what are you most looking for? How will the Guildhall help?

I am looking for talent and experience, same as any other professional. Again, being a new and rather demanding industry, it is difficult to find these qualities in people who are not already working in the industry and thus unavailable for hire. The Guildhall will provide the right education, and students who fulfill its course requirements will come away with a near-professional foundation of experience.