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Controlled Chaos Media launch

Former students of The Guildhall at SMU release first game, an iPhone number entitled Pocket Fish.

DALLAS, TX – September 16, 2009 - Former classmates of The Guildhall at SMU became business partners early this year when they launched Controlled Chaos Media, a game development studio. They have achieved quick success with the release of their first game, Pocket Fish. Available on iPhoneTM and iPOD® Touch since midsummer, it has been ranked among the most popular entertainment applications.

The Guildhall at SMU, a graduate level video game development education program, opened its doors in July of 2003. SMU has graduated 300 students over the past six years who have worked at more than 80 video game studios around the world.

“When we were students, we talked about going into business one day,” said Hunter Woodlee, company founder and CFO. “At the time, it was kind of ‘day dreaming.’ We graduated in 2005 and went our separate ways. Four years later, here we are.”

Fellow SMU graduate students David Doran Marshall, lead designer, and Mike Penrod, lead artist, are principals of the Dallas-based company. The seven-member team’s collective experience includes key roles in developing nearly 20 console games with AAA titles like Star Wars: The Force Unleashed, Ghostbusters, Deadly Creatures, Stuntman: Ignition and Brothers in Arms.

“Watching each graduate’s path as it progresses from our program always affirms that what we are doing is of great value,” said Dr. Peter Raad, founder and executive director of The Guild Hall at SMU. “Hunter, Mike and David’s paths are the first ones that have converged to form a business. We applaud their accomplishments and look forward to their future contributions to the video game industry and beyond. We will continue to look toward them, all of our alumni and the industry at large to let us know how to pave the way for others.”

According to Woodlee, the release of their first game was strategic on many fronts. “We capitalized on Apple’s mobile platform to get our product into the market more quickly,” he explained. After researching popular games, the concept of Pocket Fish began to take shape. “Harnessing our high-end game background and scaling it to the small screen allowed us to push the iPhone’s graphic capabilities and showcase our talent.”

Reminiscent of Finding Nemo, Pocket Fish is a palm-sized aquarium inhabited by vibrant, cartoon-like fish, each with distinct personalities. Users can engage the fish in an array of activities like barrel rolls and air guitar via the touch screen. Updates are released frequently to add character-driven fish and interactive functionalities.

A game prototype for the XBox 360, PS3 and PC is currently in development. “It combines innovative gameplay with an easy interface and a celebrated genre,” Woodlee remarked.

Controlled Chaos is submitting its game beta in the Indie Game Challenge, introduced this year by The Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences, GameStop Corp. and The Guildhall at SMU. “It’s ironic to be working with classmates on a project associated with our alma mater,” said Woodlee. “But, it is not surprising that SMU is collaborating with industry leaders to promote next-generation video game development.” The competition awards winners with almost $300,000 in cash and scholarships, national exposure and the opportunity to make a pitch to the industry’s foremost publishers.

About The Guildhall at SMU

The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University is the premier graduate video game education program in the U.S. Many of the school’s founders are industry icons, and classes are taught by industry veterans. In six years, the program has graduated over 300 students, and alums work at more than 80 video game studios around the world, with several graduates now serving in leadership positions. SMU offers both a Master’s degree and a graduate Professional Certificate of Interactive Technology in Digital Game Development, with specializations in art creation, level design, and software development. For more information, please visit

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Ron Jenkins

The Guildhall at SMU


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