Marlene Sharp
5 min readApr 30, 2021


Center for Learning Unlimited and filmmaker Matty Rich unite to slay the video game industry

Matty Rich and CLU career animation training students study video games virtually

There is a potential boss battle brewing in Torrance, California. Acclaimed filmmaker and video game creative director Matty Rich joins forces with CLU (The Center for Learning Unlimited) for pilot educational project Writing and Developing Video Games. Rich serves as architect and lead instructor of the new endeavor. Course participants are neurodiverse adults enrolled in CLU’s 3-year animation career training program. Together, Rich and CLU intend to slay the game industry with the artistic powers of autistic auteurs.

In late 2020, CLU and Rich had launched the video game program with a one-day intensive. January 2021 ushered in the first set of interactive sessions. The initial six-week class met virtually (for 2 hours per week) and boasted a mind-blowing 100% completion rate. The second six-week course — again featuring Matty Rich at the helm — continues with the core concept of video game writing, particularly in creating interesting characters, conflict, emotions, style, and purposeful game mechanics.

Matty Rich invites esteemed guest speakers — such as Aaron LeMay — to interact with CLU students

“Matty’s extensive expertise more than complements our preparation-for-employment programming efforts on behalf of neurodiverse adults. This unique offering has been exciting and has provided a unique real-world experience for the students,” says CLU Co-founder and Director Virginia Erxleben.

Erxleben continues her praise of Rich. “Thank you, Matty, for offering your extensive expertise to CLU’s blossoming, creative, complex learners. Your customized video workshop more than complements the groundwork for their chosen professions. Bravo!”

“I came prepared to teach how to write and create video games, but I got a chance to learn from my students, too. I learned that we all have something special to offer. I learned that everyone has a story that they want to tell at some level, to somebody, and I also learned the importance of listening to those thoughts and ideas,” says Rich.

Rich — renowned in the interactive industry since French video game giant Ubisoft recruited him as creative director for popular street racing title “187 Ride or Die” — consistently imparts actionable insights for fledgling CLU designers. Throughout both six-week CLU courses thus far, Rich has invited video game gurus to share intel on lucrative career opportunities. The crowning achievement for each of Rich’s CLU’s students is an original, illustrated pitch deck.

“I was in awe at the level of talent and creativity in these young adults. They are as talented as anyone I’ve worked with in this industry and should be considered for hire as game writers, designers, character designers and engineers,” says Rich.

CLU is a non-profit organization that presents instructional programs, career development, and mentorship for animation students (ages 18+) on the autism spectrum. In summer 2021, CLU will launch Brainstorm Productions, a full-service animation studio. Brainstorm will staff CLU graduates on contract assignments and original creative development projects. Potential clients, such as video game companies, film and TV producers, NGOs, and small business advertisers, are welcome to connect with CLU now! To read breaking Brainstorm Productions news, follow CLU on LinkedIn (

Recent CLU news includes the school’s entry into the 2021 Easterseals Disability Film Challenge (in association with the Bentonville Film Festival). The resulting CLU short entitled “What To Do With Your Tabloid News” next appears at the Frame By Frame Film Festival and the KIDS FIRST! Film Festival, respectively. “Tabloid News” is an official selection of both programs.

Poster for CLU’s short film “What To Do With Your Tabloid News”

About Matty Rich

A discovery of late Oscar-winning director Jonathan Demme, Matty Rich made his way to Hollywood in the early ‘90s. He gained major recognition as a 19-year-old, acclaimed writer/director/producer with his award-winning debut film “Straight Out of Brooklyn.” The movie went on to achieve icon status. It snagged major festival honors, including precedent-setting recognition at the Sundance Film Festival. It also won an NAACP Image Award, Independent Spirit Award, CEBA Award, Big Apple Award, Producer’s Guild of America prize, and the Nova Award. From there, Rich signed a 3-picture deal that birthed the Touchstone Pictures/Disney classic “The Inkwell.” Some of Rich’s other noteworthy film and TV credits are “Whitney: Can I Be Me?” for Showtime Networks; “Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church” for Showtime Networks; and a Tupac Shakur documentary for HBO.

In addition to his CLU teaching duties, Rich is a screenwriting instructor for the American Film Institute (AFI) and a writing/directing advisor for the Sundance Film Festival Co//ab online platform.

About the Center for Learning Unlimited

Established in 2002, The Center for Learning Unlimited has a calling to reconnect complex young learners with their academic, social, and emotional potential, thereby empowering them to engage as citizens of the 21st Century. CLU serves both publicly- and privately-sponsored students with learning challenges in grades kindergarten through 12. Hallmarks of this therapeutic educational environment are individualized teaching plans, an exceptional faculty, and year-round initiatives structured to meet the needs of the students and their families. CLU also is home to a swiftly growing animation and video game career training program for adults on the autism spectrum.

To learn more about CLU, please visit



Marlene Sharp

Marlene Sharp is a creative and business-savvy entertainment multi-hyphenate who originally hails from New Orleans but is now a (San Fernando) Valley girl.