Asian Correspondent » DigiPen Asian Correspondent Thu, 28 May 2015 01:43:36 +0000 en-US hourly 1 A Day in the Life of a DigiPen Institute of Technology Student Wed, 22 Dec 2010 16:47:51 +0000 A Day at DigiPen According to Bachelor of Science in Real Time Interactive Simulation student Jake McCauley

Depending on the day, I wake up either at the crack of dawn or the crack of noon. I climb out of my comfortable bed, check emails, take a shower, and maybe have a bite to eat. Then, I head out the door. I walk, ride my motorcycle, or carpool with some friends to get to campus. Luckily, I live only a couple of blocks away. When I get there, it’s all about Physics, and I immediately think to myself, “Physics, this early in the morning? Ugh! I feel like physics is ‘relatively’ bad for me this early in the morning.” But, it’s cool to figure out how things move, and as a person who wants to get into the game industry, it’s absolutely vital for me to know and understand physics.

Mid Morning:
Everyday, except Fridays, I have a break between 10:30 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. I fill this time with homework, lunch, and hanging out with my girlfriend.

When doing homework, there are plenty of study groups that I can plug into. Sometimes, I’ll work with my game team, which includes a group of people that I am creating a game with. You can check out a bunch of free games that DigiPen students have created here. Other times, I’ll just connect with my friends, and we’ll try to figure out homework together.  My friends and I may not be the smartest in our class, but we have fun with what we are learning and help each other out with difficult concepts.

Early Afternoon:
Starting at 1:00 p.m. everyday, my core classes begin. At DigiPen, we declare our majors before we even get started.  So, when I was an incoming freshman, I declared “Bachelor of Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation”. There are core classes that I need to take for this degree, and these classes begin at 1:00 p.m. Here is an example of my class schedule in a day:

  • Computer Science 200: This course teaches us how to make our own graphics for a video game. Currently, we are learning how to draw lines. Everyone has to start somewhere!
  • Computer Science 225: This course is more in-depth technically, and is taught by a professor who strategically throws in trick questions in every exam so he can test everyone’s knowledge. Because we know this about him, we study hard for tests and know the subject matter very well.
  • Math 200: To be a Real-Time Interactive Simulation major you must have had some exposure calculus. Because this course is a higher-level calculus course, and I haven’t had too much exposure to calculus, it is pretty challenging for me. I lean on my classmates who have had years of calculus to help me study for this class. They are very helpful to me.

After these classes are done, my brain needs a break, so I usually play a video game, a card game, or simply take a nap.

After I’ve taken a break, it’s time to start homework. Depending on what I need to get done, I join a study group and hunker down for a few hours. We usually study on campus or back at my apartment. There is some goofing off, but eventually we all get the work done – even if it takes over 8 hours.

Late Night:
Now that classes and homework are over, it’s time to relax and unwind. Most of the time, this involves playing video games with friends or sleeping. While going to DigiPen, I’ve learned that I must keep a balanced life. If I don’t include sleep and play into my schedule (which would be easy to do at DigiPen) I wouldn’t be able to do my best. By maintaining balance, I’m able to go to bed knowing that I tried my best, and I am able to wake up and do it all over again the very next day.

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Using gaming to teach science, technology, engineering and math Thu, 16 Dec 2010 22:21:10 +0000 Video games are essentially simulations of real-world phenomena with interactive elements. For example, in a tennis game, when a player hits a tennis ball with his racket, numerous physics and mathematical concepts such as geometry, velocity, mass, force, acceleration, and motion come together to simulate the outcome of the contact. Even when games are set in fantasy environments, the player’s behavior is still governed by physical laws that are not all that different from those of the real world. That makes an understanding of mathematics and physics crucial to creating a compelling and believable experience for players.  

Many students struggle with mathematics and science in schools when these subjects are taught through rote learning – simply memorizing formulas for the purpose of passing exams leads to a shallow understanding of the material. Real problem solving requires not just a passing familiarity with these subjects, but a deep understanding of their concepts and theories in order to apply them. With video games being the top choice of entertainment for today’s youth, educators are beginning to realize the power games have to inspire students to learn mathematics and science.

In a news post on Jan 1, 2009, Scientific American observed:

Several educators suggest in the newest issue of Science that schools use video games to simulate the real-world situations in the classroom to help students develop critical-thinking skills and enhance their understanding of science and math and, perhaps, even encourage them to pursue careers in those and related fields such as technology and engineering.” 


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The process and art of creating a game Thu, 09 Dec 2010 20:05:19 +0000 The creation of a game begins with an idea. The first practical step that translates the idea into a finished product is the preparation of the game design document (GDD), which is typically written by the game designer. The GDD gives details about the look and feel of the game, and shows the element of fun for the player. This document communicates to publishers and developers the design features, such as the user interaction, the storyline, the visuals, and game environment.

The next step in the process is the pitching of the idea to publishers who will fund the development and marketing of the game. The pitch will explain the game play, the demographic of the game’s target market, and a playable prototype of game play sequences.

The production phase commences when the publisher accepts the game. A schedule of deadlines is set for the development team to follow so the project will stay on track.

At the start of the production phase, the technical director prepares the technical design document (TDD), which describes the technical aspects of the game, such as the coding structure and standards, software requirements, and system requirements for the final product, that will meet the specifications of the GDD. 

One of the most critical decisions to be made is the adoption of a suitable game engine that meets the specification of the TDD. The engine is a software system that contains the code which performs tasks for the game when invoked, such as physics and math calculations, networking communication protocol, display of the visual elements, and artificial intelligence control.  At DigiPen, the students write their engines from scratch.

The other key building block of a game is the artistic content, such as the characters, audio, narratives, textures, and animations that provide the players with experiences that are both engaging and attractive.

Today, a top-tier AAA title can cost from USD$20-30 million to produce, and it can take more than 50 professionals over three years to complete.

At the final stage of production, game testing begins. This includes a large number of game testers who identify technical flaws and assess the intuitiveness of the game play.

Once the flaws are fixed and the overall game play is refined, the final version of the game is ready to be marketed and distributed through various channels. 

Click here to see some game demos, which include complete details about the physics, math, and artificial intelligence that are involved in creating a game.


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DigiPen: Providing a bite of reality Mon, 29 Nov 2010 22:39:03 +0000  

The first day at DigiPen is the first day at work” 


When choosing a college, students always want to know how their college of choice will set them apart from their peers. According to employers, like Microsoft, Nintendo, and Valve, DigiPen Institute of Technology’s graduates are ready on Day One. 

DigiPen is passionate and proud of producing graduates who are career-ready. During their four years at DigiPen, students are required to complete real-world tasks by applying what they have learned in their classes to projects they develop, such as 3D animations, mobile phone devices, or video games with multiplayer functionalities. By completing project-based assignments like these, students become familiarized with what will be asked of them once they join the industry.

In addition, while working on projects, students must learn how to effectively communicate with other people. Students work in teams and must learn how to compromise, get along with different personalities, and meet deadlines under pressure, while cultivating a culture of professionalism among themselves.  Such skills prove to be invaluable when they go out into the real world and begin working and managing their own teams.

Many DigiPen freshmen have said, “The first day at DigiPen is the first day at work.” It has always been DigiPen’s objective to prepare students for the real world, so they succeed from their first real day at work and beyond. If you’re interested in enrolling at DigiPen to pursue a career in the interactive entertainment industry, please click here.


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Why DigiPen Institute of Technology? Tue, 23 Nov 2010 16:11:32 +0000 Last year, “The Princeton Review” looked at nearly 500 institutions and colleges in North America that offer video game design programs. DigiPen ranked in the top two and was named one of the best institutions in North America to study game design.

This ranking is not surprising because DigiPen is credited with being the world’s first college to offer a bachelor’s degree in game development. DigiPen has been invested in game and animation education for more than 20 years. Because of our long history and success, both industry experts and academic scholars have acknowledged us as a leader in game education. 

With over 500 programs in North America alone, the answer to “Why go to DigiPen?” becomes increasingly important. Our answer to potential students when they ask this question has remained more or less the same over the last 20 years. Here are our top three reasons why you should consider getting your education at DigiPen:

1) Applied Education: A DigiPen education goes beyond mere theory. Aside from learning the fundamentals of gaming, design, animation, and computer engineering, our students must put their knowledge into practice by developing things like video games, 3D animated shorts, or hand-held mobile devices. DigiPen students produce these projects by working in groups, and they create everything for these projects from scratch – be it a game engine, artificial intelligence, or even music that sets the mood for a game’s storyline. Everything is developed from the ground up!  In fact, companies are so impressed with our students and their projects that sometimes, entire student teams are hired upon graduation. The smash hit video game “Portal” was developed by DigiPen graduates based on their student game project called “Narbacular Drop”. The DigiPen graduates were hired as a group by Valve Corporation to produce “Portal”. Very recently, another entire DigiPen student team was hired by Valve, and there is speculation that this team will create “Portal 2” based on their student game “Tag”. Student success stories such as these are not unusual for DigiPen graduates because of the rigorous education and experience they gain at DigiPen. Because the programs are so hands-on, our students learn to become innovators rather than just users of technology, which set our graduates apart from the rest.

2) Specialized Degree Programs: DigiPen is not a liberal arts college. Unlike other schools, it does not require you to take courses that do not apply to your major. However, that doesn’t mean that you will not have a heavy course load. As a matter of fact, it means quite the opposite. It means that every class students take has a direct correlation with what they want to do when they graduate. For instance, if you want to program games, you will take courses, such as computer science, math, physics, and psychology of gaming, all of which will help you program games. Similarly, your project classes will all require you to produce games and to work with artists and musicians to develop complete playable games. DigiPen’s degree programs are hyper-focused, academically rigorous, comprehensive, and interactive.  With the concentration of specialized classes, students are able to spend their four years at DigiPen gaining knowledge and expertise in their field of study.

3) Location, Location, Location: DigiPen Institute of Technology is located in the heart of Redmond, Washington. Over 150 game companies are our neighbors, and many are our friends. Industry representatives from various companies also sit on our departmental boards. Due to our location, many of our students are able to get internships during their junior and/or senior years, which can lead to a job offer or one year of professional experience before they even graduate. This close proximity to industry giants, such as Microsoft and Nintendo, not only allows our students to get internships, but also enables us to have excellent speakers on campus. Weekly, DigiPen hosts industry speakers who come from all over Redmond and the world. Companies who have spoken at DigiPen include Microsoft Game Studios, Nintendo , Disney, Lucas Film, Pixar, and Valve (just to name a few).
What has not remained the same over the past 20 years are the demands placed on the $19 billion per year game industry (according to The NPD Group, Inc. in 2009). With each blockbuster title, such as “Halo: Reach” or “Call of Duty: Black Ops”, comes greater expectations, and therefore, a greater need for more qualified employees. Because the industry’s needs are always evolving, we have to ask ourselves on a regular basis, “What do we need to do NOW to set up our students for success in the industry?” To ensure that we are preparing our students to successfully contribute to this continuously changing industry, we have companies like Microsoft, Nintendo, Sony Online Entertainment, Valve, Bungie, and PopCap Games serve on our departmental boards. These companies and several others, from small to large game and animation companies, give us advice on what the industry needs and what students will need to know now in order for them to be successful in the industry in the future. We consider their valuable advice as we modify our curriculum on a yearly basis.
We trust that this has answered your “Why DigiPen?” question, and we encourage you to read our alumni success stories, available here, to get a first-hand look at how a DigiPen education can lead to a great career.

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