IU student-produced GameZombie.tv a Webby Honoree for second straight year
An Indiana University graduate student's original online video game series, GameZombie.tv, is a Webby Awards Honoree for the second year in a row.
Hailed as the "Oscars of the Internet" by the New York Times, the Webby Awards honor excellence on the Internet, including Web sites, interactive advertising, online film and video and mobile Web sites. Entries are judged by the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences. Fewer than 15 percent of entrants were deemed Official Honorees.
IU graduate student Spencer Stuart -- known online as "Spencer Striker" -- created the student-run multimedia project less than three years ago. It has since provided 125 other IU students with hands-on experience in production and Web development. Some of the participating students have been invited to attend the 13th annual Webby Awards Gala in New York June 8.
While most students working with GameZombie are from IU's Department of Telecommunications, the Web 2.0 project involves others from the Kelley School of Business and the IU schools of Fine Arts and Informatics. Production facilities are located within the Telecommunications Department, which is part of IU's College of Arts and Sciences. Some students working on the project have been able to get internship credit, while others participated through an advanced production workshop centered around the original Web series.
"What's exciting is that in the business of Web video, we're extremely competitive," said Stuart, who is originally from Austin, Texas. "We're seeing professional organizations that obviously have no affiliation with the university and they're going out of business. Meanwhile, we just keep getting stronger."
"The department is delighted with the continued national recognition GameZombie has earned," said Walter Gantz, chair of the IU Department of Telecommunications. "Beyond that, we've been really pleased with the instructional activity associated with GameZombie. Students from across the campus have had an opportunity to develop and refine very valuable production and marketing skills that should serve them well as they enter the job market."
GameZombie has produced 240 original videos for global webcast and garnered more than 100 front-page editors' picks on major videosharing sites, front page articles in 10 online news outlets and competitive visibility on the world's top search engines.
GAmeZombie students also produce a cable access program that is presented throughout central Indiana and an IU Student Television show. Their promotion and distribution agreements with various Web sites, including Dailymotion, GameTrailers, National Lampoon, Kewego, Joost, Buzzwire, and Bebo -- as well as official YouTube Partner status -- have pushed GameZombie's global view count to more than 6 million. The students also regularly produce a podcast that is available through iTunes.
"I had the pleasure of meeting Spencer and the team at GameZombie.tv early on and can honestly say that they are one of the most motivated content creators I work with at GameTrailers.com," said Barndi Kim, manager, brand and partner marketing at MTV subsidiary GameTrailers.com. "Their breadth of videos, their dedication to event coverage and their creativity surpasses most others, including groups who have been doing this work for much longer."
GameZombie has covered events such as the Game Developer's Conferences in San Francisco and Austin, E3 in Los Angeles, the World Series of Video Games in Louisville, Ky., and GenCon in Indianapolis. It has produced more than 125 interviews with some of the biggest names in the video game industry, including Peter Molyneux of Fable 2, Todd Howard of Fallout 3, Ben Mattes of Prince of Persia and Cliff Bleszinski of Gears of War 2.
The project has given students valuable experience. In addition to the many internships and jobs at video production companies across the country, students have landed positions such as an internship with Cartoon Network's Adult Swim division and will test games that are part of its Web site; working for Major League Soccer; and as a lead multiplayer designer at High Voltage.
"A lot of our editors have been getting editing jobs in cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles," said Andrew Benninghoff, a senior from Ft. Wayne, Ind., who will enter IU's master's program in telecommunications this fall. "Not everyone with GameZombie is interested in video games; they're interested in design and production."
Stuart, who has two undergraduate degrees from the University of Texas, in additon to his Master of Science degree from IU, is moving on to a teaching position at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. But he will remain involved with GameZombie by developing and expanding a game media program there, similar to the one he established at IU.
Benninghoff will take over as IU's lead on the project. The project also has welcomed student interns from the University of Southern California's Department of Interactive Media.
Stuart can be proud of the GameZombie legacy he leaves behind at IU.
"We've moved into the elite of game media," Stuart said. "At GDC09, we were invited by the head of the game media press corps to go backstage for the Game Developers Choice Award. It was extremely flattering. After these star game developers won the biggest award of their life, they go into the green room and that's where we were, asking them questions. That was an indication that we've been getting a lot of respect."