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OCAD U mourns the passing of Jeff Watson

Jeff Watson (far right) with OCAD U students.
Jeff Watson (far right) with OCAD U Digital Futures undergrad students during Atelier class. Photo courtesy: Adam Tindale.

The OCAD University community is deeply saddened by the passing of Jeff Watson, former Assistant Professor in the Digital Futures program, on November 9, 2020.

Watson, an award-winning artist, game designer, writer, and educator, was born in Calgary, Alberta in 1973. He received a BA in Cultural Studies from McGill University, an MFA in Film and Video from York University and a PhD in media arts and practice from the University of Southern California.

During his tenure at OCAD U, Watson founded the Situation Lab with futurist Stuart Candy. In 2014, the Lab released its first game, The Thing From The Future – an award-winning imagination game that challenges players to collaboratively and competitively describe objects from a range of alternative futures.

Most recently, Watson was Assistant Professor of Interactive Media and Games at the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where he was a Director at the Situation Lab, a design research laboratory cross-sited at USC and OCAD University.

Over the past few years, Watson and his wife, Kiki Benzon, another important member of the OCAD U community, worked with the Digital Futures program as external thesis examiners.

As a designer, Watson consulted and produced commissioned work for a variety of institutions and companies, including Intel, BMW/Mini, the USC School of Cinematic Arts, Boeing, Tiltfactor, Take Action Games, the USC World Building Institute, and the Institute for Multimedia Literacy.

The University extends its deepest condolences and support to Kiki Benzon, his family and friends, and to all who knew him at OCAD University.

Memorial services will be held at later dates in Toronto and Los Angeles. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to Birds Canada. His obituary has been posted on the Calgary Herald website.