Remarks given by Michael Young, Chair of the Division of Games, at the Division Unboxing event on August 24, 2023.
I'm Michael Young, the new chair of the new division of games. Welcome to our unboxing! There are many amazing folks here this evening, and I’m so happy to see everyone and to have you all join in the excitement and celebration of the new Division.
What is this unboxing thing?
Tonight is the final event of today’s celebration of the transition from EAE as a teaching program into the Division of Games. We have a brief set of remarks to start us off, and then an evening full of sharing the excitement among good friends.
To start the evening. I am so happy to introduce the president of the University of Utah, Taylor Randall. President Randall is the 17th president of the University of Utah. He joined the U in 1998 as a professor of accounting and led the nationally ranked David Eccles School of Business for 12 years prior to his appointment as the president in 2021.
President Randall has set a bold goal for the University of Utah to become a top 10 public university with unsurpassed societal impact. He believes the U can revolutionize the student experience, change the world through research, and serve our state to improve the lives of all 3.4 million Utahns.
He has big plans for this place, and he intends to make them happen.
Please join me in welcoming President Taylor Randall.
President Randall spoke for about 5 minutes.
Thank you, President Randall, for those encouraging words, and for the commitment you have to making great things happen at the U, and for seeing the place that the Division of Games can fit in that plan. We are ready to boldly go.
Just 18 months ago, In Spring of 2022, I was trying to work out where EAE could go as we were emerging from the worst of the pandemic. I wanted to form a BHAG, a Big Hairy Audacious Goal. A maybe not even achievable goal. A ten year plan that could inspire us to do great things in its pursuit. And that plan was for EAE to become a division. And then, with the support of Dean Rich Brown, things not only started to move, but started to race towards change.
And now, here we are.
One of the things I’d like to do tonight is to express my thanks for the work that many people have done to get us to this amazing transition point.
First, I want to thank the EAE and Games staff. Our staff make the Division of Games world go round. Their back of house AND front of house competence underlies everything we do. They are more dedicated to our mission than any staff I’ve ever seen, and we owe them so much.
And I want to thank the associate instructors and adjunct faculty, many of whom are here tonight. Without their grounding in industry practice and their skill as teachers, our students would be much less prepared for success in the many roles they take on after leaving here.
Thanks, too, to our dedicated faculty, who are remarkably and truly committed to our students’ success. Our faculty and staff actually love our community, and that love shows in small things and large things every day in Building 72.
I also want to echo President Randall’s thanks for the people who were here at the beginning, who stuck their necks out to support a crazy idea. President Dave Pershing, CFO Cathy Anderson, Deans Tymas-Jones and Brown, and the department chairs Al Davis and Kevin Hanson. When EAE started, there were no established games programs at hundreds of other institutions like there are now. We were weird, and weird by design. EAE often refers to itself as the island of misfit toys, and we all know it took a special sense of vision not just to allow us to exist, but to support us growing and thriving. Thank you all for your courage.
And now I want to call out special appreciation for the people who worked to found EAE: Roger Altizer, Bob Kessler, and Mark van Langeveld. These three had a vision for EAE and they committed their blood, sweat and tears to its creation. And they guided it through a space where no one had gone before, and built it into one of the world’s top games programs with a legacy of excellence, thousands of alumni, and a reputation a leading program known around the world. I’m so glad that Roger and Mark are both here tonight. We lost Bob in July of 2021, but his presence is felt by everyone that knew him, every student he taught over his long and remarkable career, and everyone that comes now to work in the Division of Games. He and his selfless love for EAE and for the program’s students will be a core part of the Division of Games always. We’re fortunate to be joined tonight by Julie Kessler, Bob’s wife.
As one small mark of appreciation for the impact made by these three, we have three EAE banners that have hung outside Building 72 for the last 4 years. They’re signed by the EAE and Games faculty and staff, and we want you to have them and know that this foundational work has formed the core of who we are and who we always always will be.
What does the new division mean for us?
Clearly, games have power. Power to entertain. But also power to train. To teach. To advance health. To support human creativity and expression. They also have the power to promote stereotypes. To elevate ideologies. Surprisingly, we know very little about how the art, design, and technologies of games effect that power to impact lives. We have a responsibility to advance our knowledge, and then to apply that knowledge in our teaching, research, creative practice, to impact lives for the better.
Our new mission will double down on teaching excellence, to continue to lead in curriculum and instruction in experiential, team-based, interdisciplinary game development. And we will build new strength to be explorers, creating new knowledge and sharing that knowledge with our students, our community, and the world.
As the Division of Games, how will we do all that? Well, now instead of creating a 10-year strategic plan for Utah Games, I’m thinking about what the work of the Division will look like in 100 years. The very idea that we will be here in 100 years would have been a strange one just a few years ago. And yet, it doesn’t seem so strange, standing here tonight.
I would be remiss if I didn’t work in at least one blatant star trek reference tonight. And I think it’s very fitting now to quote my favorite star fleet captain, who himself is quoting my favorite playwright. Aside for my own personal affinity for these two — Picard, Shakespeare — these words direct me, inspire me, and reassure me:
There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
Let’s boldy go. Let’s get busy with the next 100 years and change the world.
But for tonight, please, relax and join us in celebrating the legacy of excellence that EAE has given us and the new paths we’ll explore in the years to come.
THANK YOU ALL!