Dr. Michael Capps has been a game designer, executive producer, lead programmer and studio executive. He’s best known for his decade as the president of Epic Games, based in Cary, NC. Epic is the creator of the mega-hit Unreal game series and the blockbuster Gears of War franchise, which has sold more than 20 million copies worldwide and won more than 50 game of the year awards. Epic’s game technology, the Unreal Engine, is the nine-time winner of Game Developer magazine’s Front Line Award. Under Michael’s leadership, Epic was recognized as Spike TV’s Studio of the Year, Official Xbox Magazine’s Developer of the Year, the North Carolina Technology Association (NCTA) Large Company of the Year and the NCTA Top Industry Driven Technology Company of the Year. In 2009, Michael was named NCTA Technology Executive of the Year, and in 2010, Epic was named NCTA’s Private Company of the Year. In addition, Game Developer magazine placed Michael in its Game Developer 50, which recognizes significant contributors to the game industry.
Michael currently serves on the board of directors for the Academy of Interactive Arts and Sciences (AIAS), which is charged with recognition of outstanding achievement in the entertainment software community, and Remedy Entertainment, known for creating blockbuster character-driven videogames like Max Payne and Alan Wake. Prior board service includes the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), a group of game publishers gathered to further goals of the games industry; the Entertainment Software Review Board (ESRB), which manages the videogame rating system; and the International Game Developers Association (IGDA), the world’s largest nonprofit membership organization for game developers. Michael also has served on the North Carolina Innovation Council and Change the Equation, a non-profit, non-partisan CEO-led initiative to drive innovation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education.
Prior to entering the game industry, Michael served as a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, where he specialized in defense and entertainment collaboration, virtual reality and computer graphics. For his work in these areas, he was one of 50 graphics pioneers interviewed for the ACM SIGGRAPH documentary, The Story of Computer Graphics.
While at the Naval Postgraduate School, Michael was the producer, designer and lead programmer of the America’s Army computer game. Sponsored by the U.S. Army, America’s Army was the first free-to-play downloadable first person shooter. It provides a portal into the Army, from basic training to Special Forces missions, to tens of millions of registered users.
Michael’s varied experience with information technology and military simulations led him to be featured in the Discovery Channel’s Combat Countdown series, in 2012, and most recently, the Science Channel’s NASA Unexplained Files.
A departmental honoree in mathematics and creative writing, Michael graduated summa cum laude from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He holds master’s degrees in computer science and electrical engineering from UNC-Chapel Hill and MIT, and a doctorate in computer science from the Naval Postgraduate School.