Sept. 19, 2007

Xbox Live GM to deliver The Guildhall commencement address
Friday Exhibition to feature student-developed games

J. J. Richards, general manager of Xbox Live Entertainment and Devices Division, is shown with a screen shot from Halo 3.

DALLAS (SMU) – J. J. Richards, general manager of Xbox Live Entertainment and Devices Division and a 1992 SMU graduate, will give the commencement address Saturday to The Guildhall at SMU graduating class.

“We have been very fortunate to have industry leaders and icons serve as our commencement speaker,” said Dr. Peter E. Raad, executive director of The Guildhall at SMU. “JJ follows in the foot steps of our two last commencement speakers, Richard Garriott of NCsoft and Randy Pitchford of Gearbox Software. With the release of Halo 3 on Sept. 25, I’m sure JJ will have some very interesting things to say.”

Halo 3 is Microsoft’s blockbuster video game hit scheduled to be released Sept. 26. With well over one million units pre-ordered, Microsoft believes Halo 3 will realize record-breaking $200 million on its first day sales.

Graduation, which is free and open to the public, will be at 1 p.m. Saturday in Collins Executive Education Center on the main SMU campus.

In addition to graduation is the Summer 2007 Exhibition of games created by Guildhall students. Free and open to the public, it will be held Friday afternoon and evening at The Guildhall, located on the SMU-in-Legacy campus at 5232 Tennyson Parkway in Plano. See trailers from the student-created games.

Exhibition visitors may see and play seven 2D games and four 3D games developed by the graduate students. From 1 to 4 p.m. Friday students from art creation, level design and software development will be presenting their portfolios, directed focus studies and master’s thesis projects. Team game exhibits and play will be from 5 to 9 p.m.

Screen shot from the student-developed Son of Ithaca game. See trailers from the games.

“If you love to play video games, have ever been interested in how video games are created or ever thought about a possible career in the video game industry, you need to attend,” said Raad. “This truly is an event for people of all ages. We have everything from great 2D games for younger children to action adventure games.”

The Guildhall at SMU is a graduate level video game educational program. Students will receive a master’s in interactive technology or a graduate certificate in digital game development at the ceremony.

The SMU program is considered the premier graduate video game educational program n the country. The program has a 95 percent placement rate in the video game industry with 155 alums working at more than 65 video game studios around the world.

Richards graduated Phi Beta Kappa from SMU with a major in political science and minors in Asian studies, economics, mathematics and physics. As a President’s Scholar, he attended SMU exchange programs in Japan, Denmark, and Oxford, England. He was also active on campus as a fraternity president and student member to the Board of Trustees.

Richards joined Microsoft in 2002, following a ten-year career at McKinsey & Company, where he focused on consumer high-tech and growing new online businesses. While at McKinsey he received his MBA from Harvard University. At Microsoft, he spent three years heading strategy and business development for the Microsoft Business Division, where he was responsible for the growth strategy around Office and managing the portfolio of information worker applications.

Richards joined Xbox after the release of Halo2 and began building the next generation of online gaming. With the arrival of Xbox 360, Richards launched the next generation of Xbox Live, Marketplace, Arcade, and MS Points. Since then, Richards has launched video chat via Xbox Live Vision, built the leading high-definition VOD service, extended Live to the PC via Games for Windows—LIVE, and added advertising capabilities to both the platform and online games.

Under Richard’s leadership, Xbox Live became profitable, grew to 7 million members and continues to be the differentiator for the Xbox 360, winning acclaim for being the world’s best online gaming service.

For more information about graduation or the exhibition, go to

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