THQ is opening a new usability lab at the The Guildhall at Southern Methodist University, the university's graduate program for game design and development.
The lab is expected to be up and running by Summer 2010. THQ plans it not only as a testing facility, but as a place to collaborate with faculty and post-grads on a training environment, even offering internships and research projects. The publisher says SMU is the ideal location for its endeavor, since it's one of a very short list of universities that offer a grad degree in game development.
According to SMU, this new facility also means The Guildhall at SMU will be the only graduate game design and development program with a usability lab on-site.
"We are incredibly excited by this opportunity for collaboration with one of the game industry’s leading global publishers," says Dr. Peter Raad, executive director of The Guildhall at SMU. "THQ’s presence at SMU will have a significant impact on its faculty and students by providing valuable hands-on access to professional video game usability equipment."
THQ Core Games EVP Danny Bilson adds: "As game design evolves, it is critical that we keep the basic needs of gamers at the forefront of our minds by continuing to develop titles that ensure user-friendly, intuitive game play."
With that in mind, the new lab will act as a primary testing location for THQ's major titles. THQ personnel will run the center and manage the testing, and usability senior manager Dr. Karl Steiner will lead the staff.
"By developing our lab at SMU, THQ is getting more than just a first-class testing facility, we’re also joining a community of dedicated gamers," said Steiner. "We look forward to collaborating with SMU faculty members and students on test and research activities as well as contributing to the development of the next generation of gaming talent."