LETTER FROM THE CHAIR
En route home from the Chillenium Game Jam, I pondered the opportunity of seeing hundreds
of students jamming to create a game that addressed “transformation”. This brought about the
question of motivation in game.
What motivates us in game? Is it our internal drive to perform just for the fun and joy of it,
or is it from external sources or rewards? Intrinsic vs Extrinsic the article, by Sharon Shodhan,
explores motivation. Sharon states in her article, “Self-determination theory broadly states the
psychological needs that internally motivate humans to take action — Competence and Autonomy.
Game designers can tap into these in order to motivate players to play their games.”
In the Game Design MFA at LCAD, we are taking a hard look at what motivates players and how
we address designs that keep them coming back. This week we have an interview with Emmanuel
Valdez and Chris Ulm. I hope it motivates you take a look at the Game Design MFA.
The Game Design MFA is a playful-to-provocative team of entrepreneurs, thinkers and designers.
LCAD is a hub of experimentation that generates innovation or innovative design approaches and
solutions. Join the ranks of the Game Design MFA and break barriers, redefine norms, expand
Be a part of the program ranked 12th in the nation by the Princeton Review and apply now!
Application Reviews start Nov 30th, 2018
Sandy Appleoff Lyons
Chair of the MFA in Game Design
LETTER FROM THE CHAIR
INTERVIEW WITH FACULTY MEMBERS
CHRIS ULM AND EMMANUEL VALDEZ
LCAD: of game development, we are also entrepreneurs at heart,
Can you tell me about yourselves and your connection with having founded three companies between us: Malibu Comics
LCAD? (purchased by Marvel in the 90s), High Moon Studios (now
an Activision studio in Carlsbad) and our team that founded
Ulm and Valdez: mobile developer Appy Entertainment (which was acquired by
It has been our privilege to teach at LCAD for the last three Machine Zone). Em is now at Daybreak Studios, developers of
terms, and we are eagerly looking forward to the future. It is Everquest and Chris is now at Jam City San Diego, the home
a real honor to be involved with LCAD’s innovative programs of the hyper-popular Cookie Jam mobile franchise.
which focus on the full suite of the science, art and business of
game development. LCAD:
Motivation in game play seems to be a hot topic. How do
Though both Emmanuel and I come from the creative side you see the industry addressing it?
of game development, we are also entrepreneurs at heart,
having founded three companies between us: Malibu Comics Ulm and Valdez:
(purchased by Marvel in the 90s), High Moon Studios (now As games evolve into live experiences that develop
an Activision studio in Carlsbad) and our team that founded communities and last for years, understanding player
mobile developer Appy Entertainment (which was acquired by motivation and preferences has become more and more
Machine Zone). Em is now at Daybreak Studios, developers of important. The mobile revolution that put a super-computer
Everquest and Chris is now at Jam City San Diego, the home into the pocket of nearly every man, woman and child on Earth
of the hyper-popular Cookie Jam mobile franchise. has multiplied the audience for games and especially different
Though both Emmanuel and I come from the creative side styles of games. The spectrum from hyper-competitive,
skill-based eSports on the one hand to more cooperative or and was the co-founder of Malibu Comics Entertainment, the
solitary experiences on the other will only widen over time publisher of Men in Black and the Ultraverse line of superhero
and allow for many different ways to play and enjoy interactive comics. While at Malibu, Chris served as Editor-In-Chief,
experiences. As new technologies like AR and VR mature, overseeing the development of both original and licensed
new, even more immersive experiences will be possible, which properties and was integral to the acquisition of Malibu by
will heighten the ways that communities and individuals can Marvel Comics in 1994.
interact in play settings. Add to this the impending impact of
machine learning and AI to game entities and structures, and Chris has been featured in numerous industry books and
these experiences will not only become more enjoyable and publications, including Gamers At Work: Stories Behind the
intensive but more customized to individuals. Games People Play (2012).
In the center of all of these trends is the player. Each Specialties: C-Level executive, entrepreneur, studio
player is bringing his own unique assumptions, desires and management, interactive game design (console & mobile), new
psychology into our games. Player-centric design starts from IP development, digital and traditional publishing.
the premise that games exist to serve player desires, and
being able to categorize and understand your players is key Emmanuel Valez Bio
for game designers and game developers when developing Emmanuel Valdez has over 25 years of experience in the
UX, gameplay systems, interactive mechanics, narrative and videogame industry as a multi-disciplined artist, game
character. We hope to touch on all of these issues next term in director, game designer and team manager. He is currently
Player Centric Design! an Art Director at Daybreak Game Company in San Diego.
He was also Art and Animation Director at Machine Zone San
LCAD: Diego and Art Manager, Animation Director, Game Director,
Any words of wisdom for our readers? and Co-Founder of Appy Entertainment, a social mobile
game publisher and entertainment company. Prior to Appy,
Emmanuel Valdez: Emmanuel co-founded independent game developer High
“Develop an ability to filter your creative ideas by asking Moon Studios and was the Game Director of The Bourne
yourself “what value am I bringing to the gameplay and Conspiracy and co-creator of the vampire western FPS,
player’s experience?” Is the idea going to bring memorable Darkwatch.
moments, or is it a one-time event that will soon be forgotten?
Prioritizing your ideas by applying this value will make trade- Emmanuel was also the creator of Ready 2 Rumble Boxing
offs and the decision to scope much easier and logical.” and sequel Ready 2 Rumble Boxing: Round 2 for Midway
Home Entertainment. His other video game credits include
Chris Ulm: B.I.O. Freaks, ESPN Extreme Games, NFL Gameday, and ESPN
“Designing interactive games requires multidisciplinary Baseball Tonight. He also worked at Sammy Studios, Sony
knowledge. Designing games for yourself or your friends might Computer Entertainment, and Park Place Productions.
be fun, but as a professional in today’s highly fragmented Emmanuel has been featured in numerous industry books
game landscape, you need to reach beyond your own and publications, including Game Development Essentials:
preferences and develop empathy and understanding for Mobile Game Development (2012), The Art of 3D Computer
alternate play styles and preferences.” Animation and Effects (2001), and Game Design: Secret of the
Chris Ulm Bio
A twenty-year veteran of both the publishing and video game
industries, Chris Ulm is currently Creative Director of Jam City
San Diego, the home of mobile puzzle hits Cookie Jam and
Cookie Jam Blast.
Prior to Jam City, Chris co-founded Appy Entertainment, a
mobile game developer and publisher whose original mobile
games have been downloaded over 30 million times. Chris and
the Appy team were acquired by Machine Zone in September
Before focusing on mobile games, Chris co-founded console
game developer High Moon Studios and was co-creator
of its original video game property, Darkwatch. As Chief
Development Officer, Chris was integral to the acquisition of
High Moon by Vivendi Games in 2006 and in its later transition
Chris has developed video games at Oddworld Inhabitants