School of Cinematic Arts

Interactive Media and Games

The Interactive Media and Games Division offers a Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Entertainment and a Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Media as well as a number of courses in computer-based entertainment for non-majors. The fundamental philosophy of the division is coherent with that of the school’s program, stressing creativity of expression, experimentation and excellence in execution.

Bachelor of Arts

The Bachelor of Arts in Interactive Entertainment is granted through the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences in conjunction with the School of Cinematic Arts. Students study within a framework, which combines a broad liberal arts background with specialization in a profession. Undergraduate students take their pre-professional courses in the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, including the general education requirements. Major courses are selected from the curriculum of the School of Cinematic Arts. The degree requires 128 units, including a minimum of 48 units in the major.

General Education Requirements

The university’s general education program provides a coherent, integrated introduction to the breadth of knowledge you will need to consider yourself (and to be considered by other people) a generally well-educated person. This program requires six courses in different categories, plus writing, foreign language and diversity requirements, which comprise the USC Core. See The USC Core and the General Education Program for more information.

Required Production Courses

Undergraduates admitted to the Interactive Entertainment Program are required to take CTPR 290 Cinematic Communication.

CTPR 290 introduces the interrelationship of visuals, sound and editing in cinematic communication. Students participate in directing and producing workshops as well as individual and group projects. Approximately $1,000 should be budgeted for miscellaneous expenses, lab and insurance fees.

Required Courses Units
CNTV 101 Reality Starts Here 2
CSCI 101L Fundamentals of Computer Programming, or 3
CTIN 101 Fundamentals of Procedural Media 2
CTCS 190 Introduction to Cinema 4
CTIN 190 Introduction to Interactive Entertainment 4
CTIN 483 Introduction to Game Development 4
CTIN 484L* Intermediate Game Development 2
CTIN 488 Game Design Workshop 4
CTIN 489* Intermediate Game Design Workshop 2
CTPR 290 Cinematic Communication 6

*Enrollment in CTIN 484L and CTIN 489 is concurrent

At least 6 units of the following are required:
CSCI 102L Data Structures 3
CSCI 200L Object Oriented Programming 3
CTAN 330 Animation Fundamentals 2
CTAN 443L Character Development for 3-D Animation and Games 2
CTAN 452 Introduction to 3-D Computer Animation 2
CTIN 401L Interface Design for Games 2
CTIN 403L Advanced Visual Design for Games 2
CTIN 404L Usability Testing for Games 2
CTIN 405L Design and Technology for Mobile Experiences 2
CTIN 406L Sound Design for Games 2
CTIN 458 Business and Management of Games 2
CTIN 464 Game Studies Seminar 2
CTIN 482 Designing Online Multiplayer Game Environments 2
CTIN 485L Advanced Game Development 2
CTIN 486 Immersive Design Workshop 2
IML 340* The Praxis of New Media: Digital Argument 2
IML 346* Methods in Digital Research 2

At least one of the following is required:
CTCS 478 Culture, Technology and Communications 4
CTCS 482 Transmedia Entertainment 4
CTIN 110 Statistical Analysis for Games: Storytelling with Numbers 4
CTIN 462 Critical Theory and Analysis of Games 4
CTIN 463 Anatomy of a Game 4
CTWR 410L Character Development and Storytelling for Games 4
IML 420* New Media for Social Change 4

*Prerequisite: IML 104 or IML 140 or IML 201.

At least one of the following is required:
CTIN 459L Game Industry Workshop 4
CTIN 491L Advanced Game Project I 4
CTIN 492L Experimental Game Topics 4

Four additional upper-division units of Cinematic Arts electives

Grade Point Average Requirements

A minimum grade of C, 2.0 (A = 4.0), must be earned in all required and prerequisite courses. A grade of C- (1.7) or lower will not fulfill a major requirement.

Students who do not earn the minimum grade of C (2.0) in CTIN 190, CTIN 483, CTIN 484L, CTIN 488 or CTIN 489 after repeating these requirements will be disqualified from the program.

Limitations on Enrollment

Registration in graduate-level courses (numbered 500) for undergraduate credit requires prior approval of the School of Cinematic Arts.

Curriculum Review

Cinematic arts majors are expected to meet with an adviser every semester to review their progress. Contact the Interactive Media Program Office, SCA 223, (213) 821-4472, for an appointment.

Master of Fine Arts

The Interactive Media and Games Division offers a Master of Fine Arts in Interactive Media as well as a number of courses in computer-based entertainment for non-majors. The fundamental philosophy of the division is coherent with that of the programs of the school, stressing creativity of expression, experimentation and excellence in execution.

The Interactive Entertainment track is part of the MFA in Interactive Media. This track focuses on game design and innovation and offers a list of suggested electives best suited for interests in interactive entertainment. Students in the Interactive Entertainment track are required to follow the MFA in Interactive Media curriculum.

The MFA in Interactive Media is a three-year intensive program that requires 50 units of which 36 are requirements and 14 are electives. Of these electives, a minimum of 6 units must be taken in the School of Cinematic Arts. Students are required to complete an advanced interactive project which they design and produce in CTIN 594ab Master’s Thesis.

Computer and digital production facilities for the program are provided by the school. However, students should budget additional funds for incidental expenses for intermediate and advanced projects. Cost will vary depending on the scope of a student’s project. For the first year production course, approximately $1,000 will be needed for miscellaneous costs, lab and insurance fees.

The program is intended to prepare students for creative careers in the emerging field of interactive entertainment. While the program does not require advanced computer capabilities, familiarity and comfort with computer based authoring and production/post-production tools is recommended.

The creation of interactive media requires a combination of skills from the traditional media of film and television as well as a deep understanding of the effects of interactivity upon the quality of experience. Therefore, we emphasize and encourage collaboration with students in other Cinematic Arts programs.

Approximately 12 students are admitted in the fall semester (there are no spring admissions).

Applicants for the MFA in Interactive Media must submit a supplemental application and materials to the Interactive Media Program. For specific instructions contact the Cinematic Arts Office of Admission, University Park, Los Angeles, CA 90089-2211, (213) 740-8358 or online at cinema.usc.edu.

Requirements for the MFA in Interactive Media

Year One, First Semester Units
CNTV 5o1 Cinematic Arts Seminar 1
CTCS 505 Survey of Interactive Media 2
CTIN 534L Experiments in Interactivity I 4
CTIN 541 Design for Interactive Media 2
9

Year One, Second Semester Units
CTIN 511 Interactive Media Seminar 1
CTIN 544 Experiments in Interactivity II 2
CTWR 518 Introduction to Interactive Writing 2
Electives 4
9

Year Two, First Semester Units
CTIN 511 Interactive Media Seminar 1
CTIN 532 Interactive Experience and World Design 4
CTPR 506 Visual Expression 2
Electives 4
11

Year Two, Second Semester Units
CTIN 511 Interactive Media Seminar 1
CTIN 542 Interactive Design and Production 4
CTIN 548 Preparing the Interactive Project 2
CTIN 558 Business of Interactive Media 2
Electives 2–4
11–13

Year Three, first Semester Units
CTIN 594a Master’s Thesis 2
Electives 2
4

Year Three, SECONd Semester Units
CTIN 594b Master’s Thesis 2
Electives 2
4

Additional requirement
CNTV 495* Internship in Cinematic Arts 2

*Students must complete at least one internship for 2 units to complete the MFA in Interactive Media. Students are encouraged to complete their internship requirement in the summer before their final year of study.

electives** units
At least 6 units from the following:
CMPP 591 Producing Practicum 2
CTAN 443L* Character Development for 3-D Animation and Games 2, max 4
CTAN 451 History of Animation 2
CTAN 452* Introduction to 3-D Computer Animation 2, max 4
CTAN 462 Visual Effects 2
CTAN 501 Experiments in 2-D Digital Animation 2
CTAN 502ab Experiments in Stereoscopic Imaging 2-2
CTAN 576 Seminar in Film/Television and New Technologies 4
CTAN 577a Fundamentals of Animation 2
CTCS 409 Censorship in Cinema 4
CTCS 478* Culture, Technology and Communications 4
CTCS 482 Transmedia Entertainment 4
CTCS 502 History of the Global Cinema After World War II 2
CTCS 504 Survey of Television History 2
CTCS 564* Seminar in Film and Television Genres 4
CTIN 401L* Interface Design for Games 2
CTIN 403L* Advanced Visual Design for Games 2
CTIN 404L* Usability Testing for Games 2
CTIN 405* Design and Technology for Mobile Experiences 2
CTIN 406L* Sound Design for Games 2
CTIN 458* Business and Management of Games 2
CTIN 459L* Game Industry Workshop 4
CTIN 462* Critical Theory and Analysis of Games 4
CTIN 463* Anatomy of a Game 4
CTIN 464* Game Studies Seminar 4
CTIN 482* Designing Online Multiplayer Game Environments 2
CTIN 483* Introduction to Game Development 4
CTIN 484L* Intermediate Game Development 2
CTIN 485L* Advanced Game Development 2
CTIN 486 Immersive Design Workshop 2
CTIN 488* Game Design Workshop 4
CTIN 489* Intermediate Game Design Workshop 2
CTIN 491L* Advanced Game Project I 4, max 8
CTIN 492L* Experimental Game Topics 4
CTIN 493L Advanced Game Project II 2, max 4
CTIN 497ab Interactive Media Startup 1-1
CTIN 499* Special Topics 2–4
CTIN 501 Interactive Cinema 2
CTIN 506 Procedural Expression 2
CTIN 520 Experience and Design of Public Interactives 2
CTIN 590 Directed Research 1–12
CTPR 455 Introduction to Production Design 2
CTPR 566 Developing and Selling Your Film and TV Projects 2
CTWR 410L* Character Development and Storytelling for Games 4
CTWR 513 Writing the Short Script 2
CTWR 520 Advanced Scene Writing Workshop 2

No more than 3 units from the following:
CSCI 480 Computer Graphics 3
CSCI 485 File and Database Management 3

*Courses suggested as part of the Interactive Entertainment track.

**Courses not listed may satisfy this requirement with approval of the program chair.

Thesis Project

In order to begin work on the thesis/advanced project, students must first successfully propose their project to a committee of MFA interactive media program faculty. The proposal is prepared during the second year of study in CTIN 548 Preparing the Interactive Project and is submitted at the end of the second year. Throughout the three years of study, students will meet regularly with an MFA interactive media program adviser to develop and refine the proposal and discuss the progress of their work. The adviser will be a member of the thesis committee.

The proposal itself will include a written treatment of the project with a discussion of similar work in the field and its relationship to the proposed project. It will describe aesthetic issues to be explored and specific techniques to be employed in its realization. It will also include a project visualization, budget and schedule, in addition to supporting materials created by the student demonstrating his or her ability to pursue the project. The faculty committee will make comments and decide whether the student may go forward with his or her project. Upon acceptance, the student will begin work on the project, otherwise revising the proposal and meeting again with the committee.

In the third and final year, students concentrate on their thesis projects in CTIN 594ab Master’s Thesis, completing production and post-production. A final review will take place in the second semester of the third year. The committee will meet and the student must show and defend the work.

Criteria for successful completion include: 50 percent originality and 50 percent quality of execution.

Grade Point Average Requirement

An overall GPA of at least 3.0 (A = 4.0) must be maintained in all USC course work toward the master’s degree.

A minimum grade of C (2.0) must be earned in all required courses. Students who do not achieve a grade of C (2.0) in the core courses CTIN 532, CTIN 534, CTIN 542 and CTIN 544 after repeating these requirements will be disqualified from the program. The core courses as well as CTIN 594ab cannot be waived or substituted with transfer credits under any circumstances.

Time Limit

Students must maintain satisfactory progress toward their master’s degrees at all times. The degree must be completed three years from the first course at USC applied toward the Master of Fine Arts degree. Course work more than seven years old is invalidated and will not be applied toward the degree.

Graduate Review

One year prior to graduation, students are required to file MFA forms for a curriculum and graduation review. Contact the Interactive Media Program Office for forms.