EA to back USC School of Cinema-Television

Game publishing giant provides a multimillion dollar donation to bolster school's interactive media division.

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They say that to invest in an education is to invest in one's future--in the case of EA, it appears they're taking this old adage a step further, by investing in the future of the entire industry. Today, the company announced that it has made a sizable donation (somewhere in the multiple millions of dollars) to the University of Southern California School of Cinema-Television, specifically to advance its burgeoning interactive media division. The contribution will fund two new facets of USC-CNTV’s Division of Interactive Media: the Electronic Arts Interactive Entertainment Program and the Electronic Arts Endowed Faculty Chair. The EA Interactive Entertainment Program is a three-year Master of Fine Arts degree program. The program will help forward USC-CNTV’s goal to educate the next generation of high-level gaming design.

"The school’s rich storytelling tradition and long-standing commitment to technological experimentation make it an ideal partner for EA," said Don Mattrick, president of Electronic Arts Worldwide Studios, in a statement. "This is an excellent opportunity for EA to invest in the future of the industry by providing today’s students with the skills and knowledge they will need to push technology and entertainment forward."

As the newest appointee to the school's Board of Councilors, Mattrick will be joining a powerful lineup, including Jeffrey Katzenberg, John Wells, Robert Zemeckis, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas.

"It's astonishing how quickly games have become an essential part of the entertainment arts, and there is no better place than USC to nurture the creative and conceptual thinkers who will take the medium to places we can only imagine," said Lucas, a longtime supporter of the School of Cinema-Television. "USC is a major force in cinema education, and thanks to Electronic Arts, it can become a leader in interactive arts education as well."

EA's gift will fuel growth of the school's interactive media division's gaming area. Specifically, the Electronic Arts Interactive Entertainment Program will spawn the creation of a curriculum and research lab to explore the boundaries of interactive entertainment and to study the emerging discipline of game development. The gift will enable the creation of an intra-USC gaming community that will bring together creative and technical expertise in cinema-television, the arts, and technical sciences and will provide students with real-world experience through internships and work-study programs at EA, including its newest Los Angeles campus. The Electronic Arts chair will help the division meet the intensifying demand for talented game developers who are solidly grounded in story and content. By providing the funds to support faculty specializing in game development, EA aims to help elevate the field into the ranks of other professions, such as law and engineering, and prove it worthy of scholarly study and specialized training.

"To create the next generation of entertainment, we need the next generation of talent," said Rusty Rueff, executive vice president of human resources at Electronic Arts. "Melding storytelling, art, music, game design, and technology has become so complex that it is imperative for tomorrow’s designers and producers to acquire an education with both depth and breadth in order to achieve success in our ever-growing industry."

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