Journey co-creator Robin Hunicke has joined the University of California at Santa Cruz campus as an associate professor of Art & Game Design.
She will join the faculty in January and will help lead the new interdisciplinary undergraduate program in Games and Playable Media at UC Santa Cruz. She will also continue to lead her game startup, Funomena. She will be one of a number of prominent game developers — like Brenda Romero and John Romero — who teach game design at the university.
Hunicke has worked in games since she was at Electronic Arts in 2005, and her credits include The Sims 2, MySims, and Steven Spielberg’s Boom Blox series for the Nintendo Wii. But she made her mark after she joined Thatgamecompany in 2009. She was an executive producer of Journey, which debuted on the PlayStation Network and won numerous “game of the year” awards. She has a background in fine arts, computer science, and applied game studies.
In an email, Hunicke said, “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.”
She added, “I also believe that we need healthy, holistic production models on the business side that are sustainable in their approach. I believe that making games should be a joyful and engaging process that enriches your life. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to teach and make games with inspiring people of all disciplines both at Funomena and Santa Cruz. For me, it is a dream come true.”
“Robin Hunicke is fabulous,” said Jennifer Parker, the chair of the UC Santa Cruz art department, in a statement. “She is a huge supporter of independent game development and an advocate of women and minorities within the games industry.”
Hunicke co-organizes the Experimental Gameplay Workshop 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.
“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.”