The show is going on at the University of Southern California’s gaming showcase. Normally, the USC Games Expo is a physical event where students show off their games around graduation time. But this year, it will be a digital-only event starting at 2 p.m. Pacific on May 12 until 9:30 p.m.
For the first time, the annual event for showcasing student games will take place online, starting with a preview show exclusively for prospective applicants still in junior high and high school the day prior on May 11.
The May 12 event will stream on multiple platforms — including Twitch — and will be accessible here, where attendees can reserve spots here beginning today.
“In these unprecedented times, video and mobile games are at the forefront of social entertainment, so it makes sense to work with our partners at Jam City to bring the USC Games Expo online so that our talented Trojan family can showcase their diverse and groundbreaking work to as many people as possible,” said USC Games director Danny Bilson, in a statement. “Our students are the next generation of game design talent, and our virtual Expo is a chance for interested industry professionals, prospective students, scholars, faculty and the general public to experience their never-before-seen projects.”
This is the third year that the program—a joint initiative between the Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC School of Cinematic Arts—has held the Expo, the largest university-sponsored gaming and esports event in the world, traditionally hosting over 2,000 live attendees.
The show has been sponsored by Jam City each year, and it provides a glimpse into the nation’s leading game design program and into the next generation of tabletop, mobile, AR, video games and other interactive projects from across the university’s diverse students, alumni and faculty.
As it has historically, the expo will also feature the first hands-on for the 12 projects being developed in its capstone course, the Advanced Games Program (AGP).
Jam City CEO Chris DeWolfe said in a statement that USC Games has a unique approach to teaching that mimics real-world game creation, which includes prototyping, focusing on design, testing many iterations, and a commitment to improvements. Few educational institutions have been able to do that, he said, and it has numerous talented game makers who have gone on to work at some of the world’s biggest and best gaming companies, including Jam City.
Similar to last year’s Expo, there will be an esports component hosted and organized by the university’s esports Union (ESU) and will feature esports matches between two universities in the Southern California area as they compete in League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and more, all streamed online with the competing schools’ respective athletes safely maintaining quarantine.
Among the 90-plus exhibits at this year’s event are these 12 featured AGP titles:
1. Beasts of Maravilla Island (PC, coming soon for Nintendo Switch)
From the devs: Embark on your adventure as an aspiring wildlife photographer in the hidden, magic jungles of Maravilla Island. Explore a mysterious 3D island and solve puzzles in order to discover extraordinary creatures, learn their behaviors, and photograph them in their natural habitat.
2. Bottles (iOS)
From the devs: Enter the lush, beautiful miniature world of Bottles, where anything is possible and magic is at your fingertips. Rotate space around your character to solve mind-bending puzzles as you play with a curious octopus, a glowing jellyfish and uncover the secrets of a deep-sea shipwreck.
3. Ginkgo (PC)
From the devs: Explore a dark dreamworld of creepy yokai monsters and unsolved mysteries. Use a magic needle to solve puzzles and unlock memories of your estranged mother. Will your journey lead you to make amends or be forever lost in this dark fantasy?
4. Incursion (PC)
From the devs: Real-time strategy (RTS) players go head-to-head with first-person shooter (FPS) gamers in a multiplayer co-op competition that pits the two play styles against each othes. Two forces collide in a battle where only one species will survive and claim a mysterious planet as their own.
5. KOA (iOS)
From the devs: Meet Koa, a magical tree spirit with the ability to grow branches that allow him to go almost anywhere! On a mission to protect his home, Koa will need his powers and your imagination to solve mysteries, discover secrets, and succeed in challenges in order to save his world.
6. Our America (Oculus VR)
From the devs: What starts as a simple commute for Malcolm and his dad quickly escalates into a life-or-death encounter that both father and son will be lucky to survive. Put on your VR headset and see life through the eyes of an African-American in the U.S. as you take a ride in Our America.
7. Project: Skyfarer (PC)
From the devs: Physical therapy is necessary to prevent and treat pain or injury. Project: Skyfarer adds game elements to traditional physical therapy. In the game, you are a Mesoamerican shaman, able to commune with nature, cast spells and manipulate the natural world around you. Project: Skyfarer immerses the patient-player in this fantastical setting as they are guided to use their in-game abilities in ways that mirror and facilitate rehabilitation exercises for shoulder injuries.
8. Retronomicon (Android, PC)
From the devs: Retronomicon is a 2.5D retro-inspired, synthwave arcade puzzle game where players gather energy in a level by placing obstacles that keep a ricocheting ball in motion for as long as possible before sending it into the goal. Play and Create in the Retronomicon Revolution.
9. Serpent Showdown (PC, Coming Soon for Nintendo Switch)
From the devs: Two tails enter, one tail leaves. You and a friend go head-to-head. It is time to don your … cardboard armor and grab your trusty crayon? And guess what, it turns out you’re a snake. Strike, slither and slash your way to victory in this entertaining couch-competitive arena fighter.
10. Shortstacked (PC)
From the devs: Team up with a friend in couch co-op to skip school and go on wild adventures! But be careful: to get past adults and the mean ole “Ocifer,” one of you will have to stand on the other’s shoulders to look like a trench coat-wearing adult. You’re short, but can you stack?
11. The Candle (PC)
From the devs: After waking in a pitch-black room, you’re lucky to stumble across a single, lit candle … that talks? Using innovative eye-tracking technology, The Candle challenges you to discover the evil secrets of the house and escape. And your new friend, the talking candle, is helpful … isn’t it …?
12. The Witch List (iOS)
From the devs: In this collectible digital card game, The Witch List offers you gesture-based spell summoning gameplay as you attend a school for witches where you can join a coven of friends to summon demons, learn powerful spells and work to become the most powerful sorcerer in the land.
Register for GamesBeat's upcoming event: Driving Game Growth & Into the Metaverse