Denius-Sams Gaming Academy
In August 2014, twenty students became the inaugural participants in an intense, 9-month game development program taught by gaming industry leaders.
Warren Spector, thirty-year game industry veteran, (M.A., Radio-Television-Film '80) directs the program, designing the curriculum and serving as a part-time instructor. Spector partnered with donors, Paul Sams (Blizzard COO) and Wofford Denius (Cain Foundation) and with the Moody College of Communication at The University of Texas at Austin to create this one-of-a-kind game development academy. They are supported by a development council of industry notables.
Admitted students receive a tuition waiver and a $10,000 stipend to assist with fees and housing expenses–the only game development program to do this–and graduates earn a post-baccalaureate certificate upon completion of the program.
The Academy experience is intense, combining in-class coursework covering leadership issues with a 5-day a week lab in which students work as a team in a professional environment, putting coursework lessons to use in a development effort that spans the entire school year. The goal of the program is to give students the skills they need to take the next steps in their careers, whether they come to the program straight out of school or from industry.
Warren Spector, earned a master’s degree in radio-television-film from UT Austin in 1980. Heis a 30-year veteran of the video game industry who has worked on more than 20 production teams as designer, director or producer. He is best known for his work on the "Ultima," "System Shock," "Deus Ex" and "Disney Epic Mickey" game series.
Joshua Howard has been building, growing and leading video game development teams for many years, for companies big and small. Believing that great games come from great teams and great teams are built by great leaders, Joshua has spent several years working to improve the quality of leadership across the industry as an industry speaker, guest lecturer, and consultant.
David Cohen has been working in video game production, publishing, and licensing for over 16 years, with more than 50 titles to his credit. In addition to having produced console, handheld, mobile, online, and MMO games for Disney, National Geographic Society, Schell Games, and Oddworld, he has worked on numerous productions and partnerships with WB Games, Konami, Microsoft, EA, Ubisoft, 2K Games, Sony, and many others. In 2009 Cohen co-authored the book, “Producing Games: From Business and Budgets to Creativity and Design” for Focal Press, and has written over 400 published articles on video game history and industry.
Lisa Ha earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Grand Valley State University and is currently pursuing her master’s in Management. She has been working in higher education since 2009 with experience in Admissions and Academic Advising. Lisa is originally from Grand Rapids, MI. She moved to Austin to begin her career with UT in 2012 and now serves as DSGA's Administrative Associate.
We are pleased to welcome the inaugural class of the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy.
Dates and Deadlines
The application for Fall 2015 will open on February 1, 2015.
Warren Spector and associates on creating
the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy
Paul Sams (co-founder):
"I believe The University of Texas at Austin has a tremendous track record of building nationally recognized programs that generate the leaders and critical thinkers the gaming industry needs. The program will focus on building the skills required for students to lead teams and develop games from concept to completion, while growing talent for the gaming industry."
Christopher Weaver (development council member):
"UT is commended for its foresight in creating a games studies program targeting an overlooked, but much-needed, area in the industry – the people who oversee and manage the teams themselves. I look forward to being on their advisory board and helping contribute to this exciting new program and its industry focused thinking."
Max Hoberman (development council member):
"Most leaders in the game industry got where they are through raw experience. The Gaming Academy, under Warren’s direction, has a unique vision–by exposing their students to an impressive array of experienced business leaders and real-world leadership scenarios they hope to shorten the normal learning cycle, helping their students become stronger creative and production leaders, faster."
Erik Bethke (advisory council member):
"I am excited to see [this program] that Warren and the other experienced Council Members are putting together. What is especially intriguing to me is the emphasis on leadership skills honed on a small, exceptional group of students. In the last 30 years the game industry has made no effort to address the leadership gap and has instead relied on ad hoc development. This is the perfect focus to develop a new level of professional leadership."
Greg Zeschuk (development council member):
"One of the most challenging aspects of building a team in the gaming industry is finding top-level talent with solid leadership capabilities, so I was excited to learn that training leaders was the goal of the new Denius-Sams Gaming Academy at The University of Texas at Austin. Being asked to contribute as a member of the Development Council for the program was a great honor, and I believe under Warren's leadership the Academy is destined for great things."