AGPM Students Win Deans' & Chancellor's Awards!

Congratulations to Hesiquio Mendez Alejo, who won the Deans' Award for his thesis project, "Immigration Game."

Student playing immigration game  Hesiquio explaning the game to players


Also, another big congratulation to Aubrey Isaacman and her team (Hesiquio Mendez Alejo, Grace Ko, Nathan Lie, Linda Nguyen), for winning the Chancellor's Award for "Trash Toss." Aubrey developed this game as part of Impact Designs: Engineering and Sustainability through Student Service (IDEASS), a service learning program on campus that takes the form of a two-credit class you take each quarter for one academic year.


Goals, process and results for Trash Toss


Sammy Showcase 2017

Over the past nine months, students from the UCSC game design BA, BS and MS programs have been working diligently on their capstone projects. This event marks the first time playable builds of every team’s game will be shown to the general public! In addition, a panel of industry professionals and alumni will be judging each game based on technical and artistic achievement, with the winners taking home a coveted Sammy Award at The Sammy Awards Show the following week.

This year’s event is taking place at the UCSC Silicon Valley Campus in Santa Clara, California, at 3175 Bowers Avenue. Friends, family, and the general public are all welcome! The Sammy Showcase is open from 1pm to 7pm on Saturday, June 3.


Date: June 3 

Time: 1:00 pm - 7:00 pm


UCSC Silicon Valley Extension 

3175 Bowers Ave 
Santa Clara, CA 95054 United States+ Google Map

Check out the Sammy Showcase Webpage




AGPM presentations during Spring Spotlight

The Art & Design: Games & Playable Media program will hold daily presentations during UCSC's Spring Spotlight 2017 to introduce new admitted students and families to our major.

Each session will feature a brief overview of our program and classes from the major Adviser, current students and faculty speaking about their experiences in the program, and time for Q&A.

Sessions will be held in our Game Design Studio, in the Digital Arts Research Center Room 308, at the following times:


Friday, 4/7/17: 1:30-2:30pm

Monday, 4/10/17: 12-1pm

Tuesday, 4/11/17: 12-1pm

Wednesday, 4/12/17: 1:30-2:30pm

Thursday, 4/13/17: 1:30-2:30pm

Friday, 4/14/17: 1-2pm


For more information, contact the AGPM Adviser, Bennett Williamson:, 831.459.5628

Global Game Jam 2017

From Friday January 20th to Sunday January 22, the GDA Collaboration student group hosted the Global Game Jam in the AGPM Game Design Lab. This annual event is a 48-hour global hackathon focused on game development, and 2017 year set the record as the largest game jam ever with over 36,000 jammers in 702 sites across 95 countries creating over 7,000 games.

Jammers at work in the AGPM Game Design Studio

On Friday night, this year's theme of "waves" was announced, and jammers at the UCSC site got busy creating games from scratch. Fueled by stacks of pizza, the 70+ jammers stayed up late both nights and ultimately completed 14 games and prototypes which were demonstrated to the other teams on Sunday afternoon. There were flash, card, VR, and voice-controlled games, which included microwaves, submarines, vikings, artistic hermit crabs, misguided aliens, and comets, with themes of surveillance, navigation, and echolocation.


All of the games created at this year's UCSC jam site are available here:

Team Crustacean Frustration

Wave Shooter VR

Team Echo Dimension

Amber Waves

Team Comet's Song


Echo Dimension


Fall 2016 Open Studios

Students in ARTG 80G: Visual Communication and Interaction Design showed their final game projects on Friday, December 2nd 2016 in the Digital Arts Research Center.

There was a huge variety of games on display, including board-based adventure games, team combat card games, pattern matching party games, and a game about intimacy and getting to know your fellow game players.

This quarter's final assignment included designing a box or container for the game, and students came up with many beautiful and creative solutions.

Thanks to everyone who came out and took the time to explore and play students' games. See you next quarter!


Robin Hunicke interviewed in Vice UK

AGPM Program Director Robin Hunicke spoke to Vice UK about the augmented reality game Woorld coming soon from her studio Funomena, distribution challenges for indie game makers, and how a focus on values can help address gender imbalance in the video game industry.

Read the article here.

A Successful Second Year

2015-16 was a ton of fun in the Art & Design: Games & Playable Media BA. As usual, it culminated with the Spring AGPM showcase during UCSC's Open Studios. AGPM students took over a studio to demo games from two new courses this spring.

Students in ARTG 80G: Visual Communication & Interaction Design each created custom card game mods, producing over 120 unique, playable experiences with custom cards, boards and pieces. These games run the gamut in subjects, covering personal topics from stress management and falling in love to alien invasions and sleeping kittens.

Students in ARTG 120: Game Design Experience built web-based games (final projects were built in just 4 weeks!), collaborating in teams drawn from both the Arts & Engineering. Encouraged to build their games with a strong Aesthetic Goal in mind, topics ranged from dealing with memory loss, the politics of religious clothing, and even running a puppy shelter! 

Overall it was another productive and creative year for the new program and its students. While we are sad to say goodbye to our fantastic 120 co-instructor Arnav Jhala, we are very much looking forward to announcing the results of our search for a new faculty member this summer, who will be teaching 80G in the fall, and then teaching the upper-division Autobiographical Games elective, ARTG 129, in the Winter.

Here's to a safe & productive summer. See you in September!!


We are hiring!

Fantastic news! UCSC has just announced our first new position for the Art, Games & Playable Media program!

The Art Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC) invites candidates working in Games and Playable Media to apply for a tenure-track faculty position recruited at the level of assistant professor.

The new BA program in Art and Design: Games and Playable Media is a highly interdisciplinary program. Students from the Games BA and BS form a shared cohort throughout their undergraduate years and collaborate on the creation of digital and nondigital games during that time. Faculty in this position will be teaching students from computer science and art backgrounds who have an interest in gaming.

We seek an accomplished games practitioner with evidence of a developed research trajectory and demonstrated recognition of their work. We have a preference for candidates with a multidisciplinary orientation, who are experienced with game design as both a technological and artistic practice and can work with undergraduate and graduate students from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. In addition, the ideal candidate sees games as an expressive practice, demonstrating a broad understanding of the scholarly fields of games studies and experimental game design, critical histories of games, and visual art practices. Possible related areas of research and teaching might include interactive audio design, interface design, interactive narrative, and intermedia art.

We are especially interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity and excellence of the academic community through their research, teaching, and service. The campus currently operates on a schedule of three 11-week quarters per academic year. The successful candidate will be expected to teach 5 five-unit courses per year, or their equivalent, in accordance with the department's workload policy; advise and mentor students; actively engage in research activity; and actively participate in administrative responsibilities for the department, affiliated college, and the campus. The ability to contribute significantly to graduate education and the mentoring of graduate students is highly desirable. The successful candidate must be able to work with students, faculty, and staff from a wide range of social and cultural backgrounds.

You can see the official Job Announcement and application details at this link:

We are so excited to be growing the program, and to invite qualified colleagues to apply for this position. In addition to this full-time position, we are actively seeking lecturers for our Games & Playable Media teaching pool.  Do not hesitate to reach out with questions about either opportunity to Robin Hunicke, Director of the BA. 

New Games BA Approved for Fall 2015 Enrollment

Just before the close of classes this spring, the new BA in Art & Design: Games & Playable Media was officially approved by the university. The curriculum plan for the degree has been in the making for over 2 years, with generous contributions from Noah Wardrip-Fruin, a host of talented Art Department, Arts Division and University staff, and Department Chairs Jennifer Parker (Art) and Michael Mateas (Computational Media).

The degree includes foundational courses in Play, Games and the History of Games, Visual Art, Programming and Game Design. Founded on the MDA framework for analyzing, modifying and creating games, the program will begin accepting students in the fall of 2015. In preparation for new students, Jude Pipes (Undergraduate Advisor for Art Students) has begun to compile a list of valuable information about required courses, pre-requisites and transfers.

Please get in touch with Jude if you have any questions about the new major. Thanks again to everyone who helped get the program written, reviewed and approved. We look forward to your continued support as we ramp up the program this fall!

Robin Hunicke joins UCSC Faculty

We are pleased to announce that Robin Hunicke has joined the UC Santa Cruz faculty as an associate professor, to direct the new BA in Art & Design: Games & Playable Media.


"Robin Hunicke is fabulous,” said Jennifer Parker, Chair of the UC Santa Cruz Art Department. “She is a huge supporter of independent game development and an advocate of women and minorities within the games industry.”

“Her vision to expand the arts to include games will enable a focus on experience design that partners well with the current Games and Playable Media program on campus,” Parker added, “while also establishing a new place for Games as Art--bringing together original and unique ways of knowing and experiencing the world through engaged play.”

Hunicke was recruited to join Electronic Arts in 2005, where she worked on The Sims2, MySims, and Steven Spielberg’s Boom Blox series for the Wii. In 2009, she joined the independent game studio, thatgamecompany, as executive producer for the award-winning Playstation Network title Journey.

"I have admired Robin's work for many years, so having her join the faculty is a dream come true,” said Jim Whitehead, UC Santa Cruz Professor of Computational Media. “Her blend of deep design and technical background is extremely rare, and I'm excited she will be bringing this knowledge to our students."

A game designer, producer and CEO in her professional life, Robin has a rich, interdisciplinary background in Art, Computer Science and Game Studies. Here, Robin talks about her mission in joining the university, explaining her passion for creating games with a focus on engaging new, diverse voices in this influential and exciting interactive medium of expression. 

“I have always been drawn to supporting the next generation of developers, lending my expertise to educational and nonprofit efforts that uplift our industry, broaden participation and encourage innovation. From mentoring GDC scholars and aspiring young developers, to teaching and lecturing on MDA, diversity and game design – all my efforts are focused on exploring the space of what games can be. So it’s really an honor to join the faculty and students at UC Santa Cruz, and their exceptional initiatives in this area.”

In addition to her work in game creation and education, Hunicke co-organizes the curated Experimental Gameplay Workshop, held annually at the Game Developers Conference, the largest annual gathering of professional video game developers. She has chaired the IndieCade Festival of Independent Games, and has published and lectured extensively on the Mechanics, Dynamics, Aesthetics model of game design, which will be a core component of the new program.