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Naughty Dog designer turned professor lauds academia's 'big creative free-for-all'

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Richard Lemarchand, Uncharted and The Last of Us developer Naughty Dog's former lead designer, lauded the experimentation and creativity game design has in academia in an interview with Gamasutra.

Lemarchand left his position as lead designer at Naughty Dog last year to teach at the School of Cinematic Arts' Interactive Media Division at the University of Southern California, which counts among its alumni Journey developers Jenova Chen and Kellee Santiago.

Lemarchand described building games in academia freed from commercial constraints as "a big creative free-for-all" that he finds "tremendously exciting." As an example, he taught an Experimental Game Design course in which he encouraged students to abandon their games because "no artwork is finished, only abandoned."

He also believes that developers can benefit from that kind of creativity.

"My advice would be that, definitely, game developers should not walk but run towards their nearest academic institution and start getting involved," he told Gamasutra. "It's incredibly enriching to students ... I also think that doing that benefits the industry, because those refreshed perspectives you can take back to the work you do on the game that you're building."