Along with the financial contribution, Gearbox will also be providing mentors for the students in the program. The move makes sense from a business perspective, according to Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford, whose company has hired 15 SMU graduates since the university began its game development program. "The only thing growing faster than our industry is the critical need for new and creative talent," he said. "I think it is clear that the videogame industry has the vast financial support and consumer demand it needs to continue its global growth. But what I and many industry leaders are very worried about is hiring and retaining world class talent. That's why programs like The Guildhall at SMU need our support."
Gearbox also donated an audio lab for the use of students at SMU, who will have access to much of the music and sound effects used by Gearbox in games including their Brothers in Arms series.
"Randy was instrumental in the formation of our program and has been a huge supporter," said Guildhall founder and Executive Director Dr. Peter Raad. "He believes, as we do, that we need to find ways to ensure financial barriers do not stand in the way for the very best students to attend our program and become contributing professionals and future leaders in the dynamic videogames industry."
Referring to Gearbox's contribution to the Guildhall mentor program, Raad added, "Our uniqueness has been the help of the industry leadership in designing our curriculum and for that matter driving our entire program. A professional mentorship will only enhance the student experience at SMU. At the same time, by being a part of the Fellows Scholars program, a company has a chance to learn firsthand whether a student would be a right fit for their company."
Established in 2003 at the Southern Methodist University, the Guildhall at SMU offers Bachelor's and Master's programs aimed specifically at videogame development and related specializations. The school boasts a 95 percent placement rate and currently claims more than 180 graduates working at 70 leading development studios worldwide. More information about the school and its programs is available at guildhall.smu.edu.