USC fund for Black and Indigenous students honors Black engineer who changed video games

Mike Snider

An oft-forgotten pioneer in video game history, Jerry Lawson, the Black engineer who helped kickstart home game consoles, is being honored with an academic endowment.

USC Games at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, announced Thursday it has established The Gerald A. Lawson Endowment Fund for Black and Indigenous Students, an initiative to increase minority representation in games and tech. Recipients will be known as Lawson Scholars.

Take-Two Interactive Software, maker of games such as “Grand Theft Auto V” and “Red Dead Redemption,” made what the company described as “a very significant endowment” to create the fund.

Jim Huntley, a USC Interactive Media & Games professor and head of marketing, said he got the idea for the endowment during the summer 2020 protests and the school’s deans of cinematic arts and engineering approved. “We felt strongly that it should honor Mr. Lawson since it will support Black and Indigenous gaming students for generations, and is only made possible with the shared vision and support from Take-Two Interactive,” Huntley said in a statement.