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Gamer, educator and entrepreneur, Anthony Borquez takes "lifelong learning" to a whole new level. After graduating from USC in 1994 with a degree in business administration and building a successful career in aerospace engineering, Borquez was quickly invited back to his alma mater to teach engineering students about a then-emerging technology: the Internet.
“I never thought of myself as an academic, oddly enough, but I love school and I loved USC, and my thought process was, ‘Spend two years, get a master’s, then figure out what you want to do next,’” says Borquez. “It was so enjoyable that I just stayed in school and I kept taking classes in different fields that I was interested in.”
Twenty-five years later, Borquez has earned not one, not two, but three advanced degrees -- a master’s in information technology and business management, a master's in communication management, and a doctorate in psychology. Now, to round out his cross-disciplinary education, Borquez is taking on a fourth degree, the Master of Science in Integrated Design, Business and Technology at the USC Iovine and Young Academy. Once he’s earned it, Borquez' academic resume will look more and more like that of a comic-book supergenius.
Still, for Borquez, the identity of an academic has never really stuck. As a kid, Borquez didn't just play video games; he learned to code so he could understand how they worked. Those programming skills served him well in adulthood, as he navigated the early days of the Internet and launched his first businesses.
A veteran of the dot-com bust of the late 90s, Borquez has founded and invested in more than half a dozen software companies and startups. Today, Borquez is co-founder of Faceroll Games, which produces Call of Duty Heroes for Android and iOS; the CEO of augmented and virtual reality company Grab Games, and is a member of the Board of Directors for Team Envy, one of the largest franchises in modern eSports. Borquez’ passion for video games shines through both his business portfolio and teaching career, but he’s also spent a lot of time understanding what makes people love games.
"Part of the concept of free-to-play mobile games was understanding dopamine and what gets people excited,” says Borquez. From working with employees to investors, Borquez frequently calls on his academic background, specifically his doctorate in psychology, to understand human emotion and cognition and apply his insights to the business world.
Borquez' career highlights an oft-overlooked personality trait in top innovators: curiosity. According to research from the Harvard Business School, successful, practicing entrepreneurs exhibit openness as a prominent trait, significantly more than business professionals in other roles. Entrepreneurs consistently seek out new experiences, and that search powers their discoveries that disrupt old paradigms. For Borquez, entrepreneurship and education spring from his desire to engage with new ideas and cutting-edge technologies.
Now, with business and technology already under his belt, and years of being surrounded by game and UX/UI designers, Borquez has gotten off the sidelines and delved into a new arena where creativity, design, and engaging narratives rule.
"I have been playing around with design most of my career, but I've never been classically trained to really understand a lot of the theories and be able to do a lot of my own designs,” says Borquez.
Impressed by Iovine and Young Academy students’ knack for straddling the lines of creativity and business in his classes, Borquez looked into the school’s offerings and discovered the Master of Science in Integrated Design, Business and Technology -- a program that perfectly compliments his extensive academic resume with a hybrid degree on the cutting-edge of intersecting industries.
As a professor, Borquez encourages his students to follow their passions, as he has with videogames and technology.
"If you can take something you're passionate and turn it into your full-time job, you'll never work a day in your life.”