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Game designer joins UA staff

Jake Lacey/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Michael Wyman joined the UA faculty as director of the Treistman Center for New Media, managed by Fine Arts Technology over the semester. He designed the Star Wars: Episode I and Sim Tunes video games plus another game being released on Xbox and PlayStation 2 soon.
By Zach Colick
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Monday, October 17, 2005
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The games are just beginning for a former software, video and computer game producer who has recently taken over as director of the Treistman Center for New Media, a division of Fine Arts Technology in the College of Fine Arts.

Michael Thornton Wyman, creative director, designer and lead producer of the "Star Wars: Episode I" computer game, has recently joined the College of Fine Arts, whose aim is to create professionals who are highly successful with projects where art meets technology.

Most recently Wyman has been a software and computer games producer and project leader with Electronic Arts Canada Inc., a position he's held for the past 15 years.

Wyman said he's excited about being at the UA and having his position. He looks forward to serving as a resource on campus with classes, games-related research projects and looking at the overall process of software development.

He compared the opportunities in front of him to an empty canvas and said it's a great time to be at the UA to create new technologies.

"We have five great years of history and ongoing research behind us at the Treistman Center," said Wyman in a press release. "And I know it's a place where we can build something really powerful in research for the arts. It's all about process. It's not much different than building a great game."

Wyman said he hopes the Treistman Center can one day be internationally recognized for its work and research.

Those now working alongside Wyman said they think he can continue the excellence for students at the Treistman Center with his experience in the field of gaming, said Mike Holcomb, assistant dean for digital arts technology for the Treistman Center for New Media.

Wyman will also build partnerships with colleges across campus to create collaborations within the fields of engineering, computer science and business management, which are vital in creating projects in fine arts.

"He is a very valuable asset, brings real-world experience, and a connection in gaming and new media to our center," Holcomb said.

Through national recruiting efforts and the coincidence that Wyman's wife took a position to teach in the College of Education, Holcomb said Wyman recognized the Treistman Center as a program he could help bring his creative juices toward.

Wyman's abilities to be a thorough, organized project manager will be of great benefit to the students in the College of Fine Arts because many of the projects students will be working on tend to deal with high levels of interactivity and interface design, Holcomb said.

"We are very pleased of all the kinds of experiences available to students," Holcomb said. "His background will help him continue with that."

From creating such games as "FSX on Tour" and "Sim Tunes," which can take more than 15 months and an excess of $10 million to create, Wyman said he feels proud he was a part of a great franchise like EA Canada Inc. because of the "pick-up-and-play feel" many of the games he has helped to create have on consumers and himself.

"Games are cool because they're a highly artistic and creative enterprise," Wyman said. "I enjoy creating gaming that are innovative on the technology level. It makes the experience that much better."

All games aside, Wyman admits gaming is a huge business and that companies like EA Canada look forward to the profits these games help to create and not necessarily "for the love."

At the Treistman Center, however, Wyman said his goals are to try and make sure the center is successfully innovating itself for the students so that research and the arts can intersect to further enhance the research mission of the UA.

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