USC's TOP RATED GAMES PROGRAM UNVEILS iTS BEST GAMES of 2019 more than 80 games fROM consoleS, PC, VR, AR and mobile video games to board games and outdoor-games

America's top games program held its annual USC Games Expo on Wednesday, May 8 to show off its best rated games.

The event featured more than 80 student games and over 1,200 guests, including some 300 middle and high school students invited by Katie Mills, director of USC Viterbi’s Adopt-a-School Adopt-a-Teacher program (VAST).

USC Games is a flagship collaboration between the USC School of Cinematic Arts' Division of Interactive Media & Games and the USC Viterbi School of Engineering's Computer Science Department.

Jam City was the presenting sponsor of the event, which is the largest single-school games showcase in the world ranging from console, PC, VR and mobile video games to board games and outdoor-games. The event also featured intense USC vs. UCLA esports grudge matches, with official teams from both schools extending their campus rivalry into the world of competitive gaming.

“We built the USC Games Expo into a massive full-day festival celebrating our students’ incredible talents and accomplishments, while giving them a chance to interact with our powerful alumni network and industry leaders as the next generation of influential game designers and creators,” said director of USC Games, Danny Bilson.

“The USC Games Expo is the world’s largest student-focused gaming event that provides a glimpse into the nation’s leading game design program to anyone attending, from the general public to aspiring developers to notable alumni.”

"There's really no program like this in the world that unites a top cinema school with a top engineering school," said USC Viterbi Dean Yannis C. Yortsos. "The selectivity is extremely high, with only three percent of students who apply to the CS Games program find a place in it, making this the most selective program we have in engineering.”

Yortsos also told the students that beyond the entertainment value of their games, they are also actively participating in solving a global grand challenge.

"Enhancing virtual reality and advancing personalized learning are two of the engineering grand challenges put forth by the National Academy of Engineering," Yortsos said.

One such game, that is being developed by USC Viterbi computer science graduate students, Adim Abbas and Naghmeh Zamani, in collaboration with researchers and practitioners at the Keck School of Medicine of USC, aims to get individuals with Parkinson's back on their feet, practicing the actual walking skills necessary to navigate their communities in VR — with seemingly real-world feedback — under the supervision of a physical therapist.

"Games now encompass everything from education to art and, of course, entertainment."

Dean Elizabeth Daley, USC School of Cinematic Arts

Here are some of the highlighted advanced games from this year's showcase

Plasticity is a cinematic platformer about a young girl named Noa, who explores and decides the future of her post-oil, plastic-ridden world. Players make choices that either help or harm the environment and see how the decisions they make shape their journey and alter the future.

For those who dream of sushi, there is Umami Blast, a puzzle game for mobile sponsored by Zynga that lets you make and match sushi to serve customers and build up your own restaurant empire.

Fight fury with fire in this thrilling fantasy-action VR brawler. Built for the Oculus, with some of the most advanced gestural controls in VR, Empath combines pulse-pounding combat, eye-popping visual effects, and gives power to the player to cast spells and become the hero of their own adventure. What really stands out about this game is the great attention paid to sound design. A lot of action packed games like this one can end up confusing the player with sounds coming from everywhere and nowhere at once, but the developers really isolated and layered sounds to create moods.

Music gets physical in this AR game which empowers players to connect with music through physically hitting notes and tracing musical flows. While playing Upbeat, four players wear Magic Leap headsets which allow them to naturally use their hands to interact with 3-D objects that fully integrate into the real world around them.

End of the Line is a narrative adventure starring YOU. YOU are the conductor of a train carrying the last vestiges of humanity across a hostile landscape in a post apocalyptic future. Your mission: to make life and death decisions, lead your charges to safety and--whatever it takes--to make it to "the end of the line."

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