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John and Brenda Romero together at UCSC games program

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UC Santa Cruz has hired Brenda Romero and John Romero to lead its new master's degree program in games and playable media.

Veteran game designer Brenda Romero (formerly Brenda Brathwaite) came to UC Santa Cruz in January this year as the university's first game designer in residence. She is known for her work on the Wizardry series of RPGs as well as Jagged Alliance, Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes and Train, an experimental board game about the Holocaust.

John Romero is best known for his work in the early days of 3D shooters such as Wolfenstein 3D and Quake. More recently he founded Gazillion Entertainment and Loot Drop, and will continue to work on his own design projects. As creative director of the games program at UCSC, he will teach courses, mentor students, and help shape the overall creative vision for the program.

UCSC's games program's advisory board includes the likes of Will Wright (Stupid Fun Club), Harvey Smith (Arkane), Derek Yu (Spelunky), Robin Hunicke (Funomena), Ben Prunty (FTL), and Brian Schwab (Blizzard).

"Industry connections are very important for this program, so that students can interact with people in the game industry through visiting speakers, master classes, internships, and other opportunities," said Brenda Romero. "The individuals on our advisory board represent a diverse cross-section of the game industry, from the hard-core AAA space to those defining the indie space."

"We're very excited to have two highly accomplished veterans of the game industry coming on board to direct our new professional degree program," said Jim Whitehead, professor and chair of UCSC's Computer Science Department. "They have been involved in the development of a huge number of games and game studios, and they have created some of the most influential games, both in mainstream culture and in the art world."

The UCSC course in games and playable media is a 12-month degree that includes game design project- goals. "In working with UCSC, my goal is to push students toward innovation while working on my own new indie projects alongside them," said John Romero.