Don Marinelli

Entertainment Tech Center, Carnegie Mellon U: Co-director, ETC

Videogames are, in many ways, the ultimate marriage of technology and art. So it’s perhaps fitting that the co-founder and head of Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center comes not from the world of computers, but theater.

Don Marinelli helped start the ETC in 1998 in hopes of addressing “the world of what young people are already doing.” Today it’s one of the very few academic masters programs that focuses on game design and interactive media. Students learn the basics of virtual world building, “new poetics,” visual storytelling and improvisation, and then, by the second semester, start working on projects, many of which are done with corporate sponsors and partners ranging from Northrop Grumman to Fox Sports.

“It’s common for us to see someone applying who majored in computer science and minored in art,” Marinelli explains. “It took me 16 years of teaching here just to get over my fears and walk into the computer science building.”