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Microsoft Picks The Guildhall at SMU to Broaden XNA Use in Game Development

DALLAS, Texas - July 24, 2007 - Microsoft (MSFT) is working with The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University in its newly formed Innovation Laboratory to find ways in which Microsoft XNA tools and technology can help to drive improvements in general computing and game development academic programs as well to research innovative new approaches to game design, development and education for students and established game developers alike.

"With more than 120 video development graduate students in residence and a faculty of video game industry veterans, technology companies are beginning to realize that The Guildhall at SMU is a living laboratory for the video game industry, That is why we formed our Innovation Laboratory focused on video game development," said Dr. Peter Raad, founder and executive director for The Guildhall at SMU. "By working with industry technology leaders such as Microsoft, we believe we will be able to help set new standards in video game development and provide new research, case studies and curriculum that drive advances in interactive media educational programs across the country."

XNA Game Studio Express from Microsoft is a new game development solution targeted primarily at students, hobbyists, and independent game developers. It is based on the industry leading Visual Studio and .NET technologies and lets developers create games more easily for both Windows and Xbox 360 consoles.

"What we are trying to do is open the door a little wider with XNA tools from Microsoft and see how they can fit into video game development not only for students, hobbyist and independent game developers but what role XNA Game Studio Express may have in professional video game development as well," said Michael McCoy, SMU level design instructor and project lead on the XNA research project. "We have already produced two case studies on 2D game production using XNA Game Studio Express and have a starter kit developed for use in a middle school video game development camp this summer. We also have incorporate a more advance starter kit into our course work for SMU students who starter at our program in July."

Three SMU faculty members, four post graduate students and two graduate students are working with McCoy on the XNA project. The team plans to publish results from the research in the near future and present their finding at upcoming industry events.

"We picked SMU to help us look at new and different ways developers can use our XNA offerings in their production cycles because of the great work we saw coming from their graduate students. We have also been impressed with the innovative approach SMU takes to game development education" Chris Satchell, General Manager of XNA at Microsoft, said. "We look forward to a long relationship with the school in helping us find ways the complete range of XNA technologies and services can be used in both an academic and professional setting."

The Guildhall at SMU is the premier graduate video game education program in the country. It offers a master's in interactive technology in art creation, level design and software programming. The program has a 95 percent placement rate in the video game development industry. SMU graduates from the progrgram work at more than 60 video game companies around the world.

SMU also offers a first-of-its-kind five year program where high school graduates can receive a bachelor's of science in computer science or a bachelor's of art in fine art plus a master's in interactive technology.

For more information on the programs please go to www.guildhall.smu.edu

Media contact: Ron Jenkins, 972.473.3546, jenkinsr@smu.edu


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