Huge USC Games Expo to grow even further — by going completely online

The largest university-sponsored gaming and esports event in the world is set for mid-May.

April 23, 2020 Ryan Gilmour

The USC Games Expo presented by Jam City is the largest university-sponsored gaming and esports event in the world. It provides a glimpse into the nation’s leading game design program and the next generation of tabletop, mobile, AR video games and other interactive projects from the university’s diverse students, alumni and faculty.

This is the third year that the USC Games program — a joint initiative between the USC Viterbi School of Engineering and the USC School of Cinematic Arts — has held the expo. The show has been sponsored each year by Jam City, the award-winning entertainment company known for wildly popular mobile games.

The expo usually draws large crowds to USC and is a chance for university game designers and esports competitors to showcase their projects and skills to industry executives and the video game community one last time before graduation. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 version of the USC Games Expo aims to be bigger than ever by going 100% online. The expo will be streaming live on May 12 starting at 4 p.m. on There will also be a preview show on May 11 for junior high and high school students, who may be interested in learning more about USC’s game design program. In addition to the website, programming on both days will stream live on multiple platforms, including Twitch and Facebook.

In these unprecedented times, video and mobile games are at the forefront of social entertainment.

Danny Bilson

Attendees should reserve spots ahead of time.

“In these unprecedented times, video and mobile games are at the forefront of social entertainment, so it makes sense to work with our partners at Jam City to bring the USC Games Expo online so that our talented Trojan family can showcase their diverse and groundbreaking work to as many people as possible,” said USC Games Director Danny Bilson, who also chairs of the Interactive Media & Games Division at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

“Our students are the next generation of game design talent, and our virtual expo is a chance for interested industry professionals, prospective students, scholars, faculty and the general public to experience their never-before-seen projects.”

Providing a window on how games are developed at USC Games Expo

Chris DeWolfe, co-founder and CEO of Jam City, said having the event online allows a greater audience to see how games are developed.

“USC Games has a very unique approach to teaching that closely mimics real-world game creation, which includes prototyping, focusing on design, testing many iterations, and a commitment to countless improvements. Few educational institutions are able to replicate that kind of environment,” said DeWolfe.

“I’m pleased we were all able to find a way to still deliver the USC Games Expo online, as it’s that resilience and their innovative curriculum which has produced numerous talented game makers, many of whom have gone on to work at some of the world’s biggest and best gaming companies, including Jam City.”

As usual the expo will feature the first hands-on of projects being developed in USC’s capstone game design course — the Advanced Games Program. And an esports component will return, following its crowd-pleasing debut last year. Organized by the USC’s Esports Union, USC and UCLA will square off in League of Legends, Overwatch, Hearthstone, Super Smash Bros Ultimate, and more, all streamed online with the competing schools’ athletes maintaining safe distancing.

USC Games Expo features 12 titles from USC’s Advanced Games Program

There will be more than 90 game exhibits at the event, including these 12 featured titles from USC’s Advanced Games Program:

• Beasts of Maravilla Island : Embark on your adventure as an aspiring wildlife photographer in the hidden, magic jungles of Maravilla Island. Explore a mysterious 3D island and solve puzzles in order to discover extraordinary creatures, learn their unique behaviors, and photograph them in their natural habitat. (PC, Coming Soon for Nintendo Switch)

• Bottles: Enter the lush, beautiful miniature world of Bottles, where anything is possible and magic is at your fingertips. Rotate space around your character to solve mind-bending puzzles as you play with a curious octopus and a glowing jellyfish, and uncover the secrets of a deep-sea shipwreck. (iOS)

• Ginkgo: Explore a dark dream world of creepy yokai monsters and unsolved mysteries. Use a magic needle to solve puzzles and unlock memories of your estranged mother. Will your journey lead you to make amends or be forever lost in this dark fantasy? (PC)

• Incursion: Real time strategy players go head-to-head with first-person shooter gamers in a multiplayer co-op competition that pits the two play styles against each other. Two forces collide in a battle where only one species will survive and claim a mysterious planet as their own. (PC)

• KOA: Meet Koa, a magical tree spirit with the ability to grow branches that allow him to go almost anywhere. On a mission to protect his home, Koa will need his powers and your imagination to solve mysteries, discover secrets, and succeed in challenges in order to save his world. (iOS)

• Our America: What starts as a simple commute for Malcolm and his dad quickly escalates into a life-or-death encounter that both father and son will be lucky to survive. Put on your VR headset and see life through the eyes of a black person in the U.S. as you take a ride in Our America. (Oculus VR)

• Project: Skyfarer: Physical therapy is necessary to prevent and treat pain or injury. Project: Skyfarer adds game elements to traditional physical therapy. In the game, you are a Mesoamerican shaman, able to commune with nature, cast spells and manipulate the natural world around you. Project: Skyfarer immerses the patient-player in this fantastical setting as they are guided to use their in-game abilities in ways that mirror and facilitate rehabilitation exercises for shoulder injuries. (PC)

• Retronomicon: Retronomicon is a 2.5D retro-inspired, synthwave arcade puzzle game where players gather energy in a level by placing obstacles that keep a ricocheting ball in motion for as long as possible before sending it into the goal. (Android, PC)

• Serpent Showdown: Two tails enter, one tail leaves, as you and a friend go head-to-head in a battle of the ages — and it turns out you’re a snake. Strike, slither and slash your way to victory in this entertaining couch-competitive arena fighter. (PC, coming soon for Nintendo Switch)

• Shortstacked: Team up with a friend in couch co-op to skip school and go on wild adventures! But be careful—to get past adults and the mean ole “Ocifer,” one of you will have to stand on the other’s shoulders to look like a trenchcoat-wearing adult.  (PC)

• The Candle: After waking in a pitch-black room, you’re lucky to stumble across a single, lit candle … that talks? Using innovative eye-tracking technology, The Candle challenges you to discover the evil secrets of the house and escape. And your new friend, the talking candle, is helpful … isn’t it? (PC)

• The Witch List: In this collectible digital card game, The Witch List offers you gesture-based spell summoning gameplay as you attend a school for witches where you can join a coven of friends to summon demons, learn powerful spells and work to become the most powerful sorcerer in the land. (iOS)