[This unedited press release is made available courtesy of Gamasutra and its partnership with notable game PR-related resource Games Press.]
LOS ANGELES, CA (August 9, 2021) –
Today, USC Games, ranked # 1 in the gaming program in North America by Princeton Review eleven years in a row, announced that Microsoft is the final funder of the Gerald A. Lawson Endowment Fund for Black and Indigenous Students, with the goal of increasing the representation of these groups in games and technology industries.
“We are proud to work with USC Games to empower underrepresented communities to be successful in gaming,” said Matt Booty, head of Xbox Game Studios at Microsoft. “We’re excited to see what the next generation of game makers will do. “
The Fund’s namesake, Gerald A. “Jerry” Lawson, was responsible for the use of interchangeable ROM cartridges in game consoles while working on a system called “Fairchild Channel-F”. This 1970s innovation sparked today’s multi-billion dollar gaming industry. One of the few early black engineers in the gaming industry, Mr. Lawson was also a member of the legendary Homebrew Computer Club whose members also included Apple founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. In 2018, Microsoft honored Mr. Lawson at that year’s Game Developers Conference.
More recently, in February 2021, Xbox celebrated black voices during Black History Month and has been with the Xbox gaming community to support the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., Black Lives Matter Support Fund and Equal Justice Initiative (EJI).
“We are committed to making USC Games a place where diversity is valued and where everyone is invited to create and play,” said Jim Huntley, professor and chief marketing officer at USC Interactive Media & Games, who has led the creation of the Lawson Fund. “As costs continue to rise at all higher education institutions, one of the biggest challenges for students from under-represented groups is simply ‘how to afford it’. That’s why Microsoft’s long-standing commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion and Xbox Studios’ support for the Lawson Endowment Fund is so important to improving their representation in the gaming and tech industries.
The fund provides support to black and native students who wish to pursue undergraduate or graduate studies in game design or computer science from USC’s prestigious program. With financial support from other games and technology companies and donors, USC Games’ vision is to expand the initiative and support other aspects of diversity and equity, including salary support. for other black and indigenous professors as well as laboratories and projects that address issues that affect these communities. The student recipients of the funds will be known as Lawson Scholars.
Endowment returns will support qualified undergraduate and graduate gaming program students at both the School of Cinematic Arts and the Viterbi School of Engineering, starting in the fall semester of 2022. Donations to the Fund will continue.
For more information on supporting the Lawson Fund, visit http://games.usc.edu/lawsonfund or contact Sabrina Espinoza at [email protected].
About USC Games
USC Games is a flagship collaboration offered jointly by the Interactive from USC School of Cinematic Arts Media and Games Division (IMGD) and the USC Viterbi Informatique Engineering School department. This unified brand brings our programs together under one roof, enabling students and faculty from all over the world. University of Southern California collaborate together to create innovative games.
The USC School Cinematic Arts program focuses on both the design and production of interactive media and games. Students emerge as creative media leaders, mastering many forms of visual expression and storytelling, with sophistication in the design and development of innovative interactive experiences that expand the state of interactive art and play. in areas such as entertainment, education, health care and social action.
The Computer Science Games program at USC Viterbi School of Engineering provides students with training in computer science fundamentals and interdisciplinary training in game development. Students emerge with engineering-focused game programming skills, an understanding of key technologies, and the ability to lead complex technical teams in game development.
In addition to an Advanced Games class, USC Games presents the USC Games Lounge, an event showcasing college-created games that is open to the public, and also produces an industry event at the annual game developers conference. USC Games also collaborates with game design programs at other colleges and universities. For more information, visit games.usc.edu; or connect to [email protected]
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation in the age of a smart cloud and smart edge. Its mission is to empower every person and organization on the planet to do more.
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