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Educators Summit: Living the Dream or Surviving the Nightmare? Making Commercial Indie Games as a Professor

Bob De Schutter (C. Michael Armstrong Professor of Applied Game Design, Miami University)

Tracy Fullerton (Director, USC Game Innovation Lab)

Christopher Totten (Assistant Professor, Kent State University/Pie for Breakfast Studios)

Dave Beck (Director, University of Wisconsin-Stout School of Art & Design)

Pass Type: All Access Pass, Core+Summits Pass, Summits Pass - Get your pass now!

Topic: Educators

Format: Session

Vault Recording: TBD

Audience Level: All

If there is one thing that developing successful games and achieving tenure have in common, it is that they are incredibly challenging endeavors, often characterized by iterative failures. While taking on both might be a clear indication of poor life choices, the panelists of this session argue otherwise. Representing a wide range of institutional styles, academic backgrounds and game genres, these individuals managed to find a way to make their institutions support their games as research and successfully publish their work commercially.

In this session, the panelists address the opportunities and pitfalls of academic indie game development, through topics such as funding structures, dissemination and university validation, student collaborations, intellectual property, the development process and the integration of all of the above en route to promotion and tenure. By doing so, the panel provides a clear roadmap on how to fit your academic passion projects into a successful professorship.


Develop an understanding of how to balance game development with academia from faculty representing a wide range of academic institutions, disciplines and experience levels. Learn how to integrate game development into an academic profile, use academic context to benefit their creative work, and recognize pitfalls when integrating these different trajectories.

Intended Audience

Individuals who want to create games in an academic context will benefit from the lessons learned and insights shared during this panel. The talk may be especially relevant to those considering the move from an industry job to academia or academics who see game development as a primary focus area towards their tenure process. Also, for those interested in the ways that games made outside of a purely commercial context can strive for different kinds of innovation, and be judged by different success metrics.