Michael John

Training the next generation of game designers

Michael John runs the Games and Playable Media masters program at UC Santa Cruz, where he and his team work to transform eager game students into industry-ready designers. Michael has a long and storied history in games. Ever heard of Spyro the Dragon – the adorable character who enchanted and educated kids on the Playstation? Michael helped bring Spyro to life, and did the same for other games including the God of War series, and the innovative Glasslab educational games. Michael’s passion for using games to educate and inspire is a key theme in his career arc from producer to educator. Listen in and find out what’s hot and happening among the upcoming generation of game creators.

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Michael’s position at UCSC games & playable media dept lets him collaborate with some amazing educators.

About this episode

I had a blast chatting with Michael John about his wide-ranging career teaching about and making games. Here are a few highlights from this inspiring interview:

  • At 7:57 Michael tells a juicy insider story about developing gaming systems for FIFA Soccer 
  • At 13:00 Michael talks about the qualities that differentiate successful game creators from the rest of the pack 
  • At 14:313 Michael tells the story of how Spyro the Dragon was brought to life – and which Mario game inspired it
  • At 19:44 Michael talks about the impact of diversity on the innovative games his students are creating
  • At 28:30 Michale tells the story of how World of Warcraft broke down barriers between his students and created an “anti-bubble”
  • At 31:05 Michael talks about why he always looks for a “project with heart”