By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Danny Bilson wears many hats. He is a screenwriter, film director, producer, game executive, teacher and devoted video gamer — he plays them at least two hours a day.
“Primarily triple-A console, because that’s what I really love. That’s how I grew up in the game business,” Bilson said in an interview with GamesBeat.
The game business he has immersed himself in has ultimately led him to be named the new chair of the Interactive Media & Games Division at University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. And this is no small role to fill — The Princeton Review has ranked USC the No.1 game design school in North America every year since it started its ranking system in 2009.
The Cal State San Bernardino alumnus, who obtained his bachelor’s in theatre arts in 1978, will be responsible for advancing the division’s overall growth and programmatic goals, and will be part of a larger collaboration known as USC Games, which includes USC’s computer science department. He will essentially help mold the next generation of professional game developers.
“Our job is to make (students) well-rounded game-makers, so that when they go out, they have a really good sense of design, production and all aspects of making games,” Bilson said.
Bilson, who will report to Elizabeth M. Daley, the dean of the School of Cinematic Arts, is in the process of bringing game marketing, branding and other significant aspects into the program.
“I feel like basic modeling for students is really important. Is it worth our time and investment? Is there a model that shows potential financial success? That’s important to me,” Bilson said. “As well as, how do we talk about our games? How do we present them to the public? How do we bring them to market? That’s one thing I really enjoyed in the games business. We’re bringing that aspect to the students, so they get a well-rounded experience.”
After a long career in TV and film with companies like Warner Bros., Disney and THQ, Bilson joined the USC faculty in 2005. He has taught various courses throughout the years, including advanced game development, character development and interactive storytelling.
Bilson, who is father to actress Rachel Bilson, has always had a talent for creating stories. As a CSUSB student, Bilson, along with his longtime work partner Paul DeMeo, received an award for writing “The Houdini Deception,” the CSUSB Theatre Arts Department’s 1978 winter production.
In his professional career, his credits include the films “The Rocketeer” and “Trancers,” the television shows “The Flash” and “Viper,” as well as games like “The Sims” and “James Bond 007: Everything or Nothing.”
As for the future, one of Bilson’s main goals is to unify USC’s Interactive Media & Games Division and the computer science department under the USC Games brand.
“I feel great about where I’m headed,” said Bilson. “Those who are paying attention will see something interesting going on, aggregating all of our content into one brand. It’s pretty powerful.”
For more information on Cal State San Bernardino, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.