It’s been a big year at DigiPen. Our talented, driven students continue to push the boundaries, delving into VR, creating award-winning animations, developing amazing games, and more. DigiPen graduates have been up to impressive things as well, having a hand in everything from huge AAA shooters to exciting indie puzzlers. Here’s a look back at some of the noteworthy DigiPen happenings of 2016.
Student game teams were hard at work this year, adding over 75 games to the DigiPen Game Gallery. Students flocked to virtual reality games this year, and the general excitement surrounding VR only looks to be growing. Team Overboard, one of the earliest adopters of the new technology, got their hands on a pre-release development kit for the HTC Vive last year and used it to make an immersive sci-fi experience. Conventional games did pretty well too, with the whimsical puzzle adventure Somnusbeing selected for the E3 College Game Competition. Student game The Blade in the Barkgenerated buzz both internally and externally, thanks to its stunningly detailed pixel-art, subtle narrative design, and atmospheric gameplay.
DigiPen’s Team Psylight was selected to exhibitSand Garden at alt.ctrl.GDC, a special exhibit at the Game Developer’s Conference (GDC) that showcases innovative game controllers. In Sand Garden, players use a sandbox controller (as in, an actual box full of Kinetic sand) to build and shape the in-game terrain, aiming to create optimal living conditions for the game’s tiny villages.
Speaking of GDC, DigiPen students cleaned up at the conference’s Game Narrative Review Competition this year, taking all three Platinum winner spots and a significant chunk of the Gold winner awards. Student Alexandra Lucas won Platinum for her second year in a row, thanks to her excellent analysis of the game Heavy Rain.
However, games weren’t the only things that students triumphed in this year. Student animation project Adija ended up being selected for 10 different film festivals (so far) while picking up five awards, including the coveted CINE Golden Eagle Award for best student animation. The story of Adija centers on a young girl with a difficult family life who finds a way to process her pain in graffiti art.
Carrying it Forward
While students were certainly busy, so were DigiPen’s alumni, who can be found doing work in all areas of the digital entertainment industry. DigiPen graduate and Blizzard Entertainment employee Ryan Chew joined the company’s Overwatch team in January, which he described as “the highlight of his career so far.” Overwatch went on to win numerous Game of the Year awards, so it’s easy to see why Chew was so proud to be a part of it.
Many other DigiPen graduates were similarly active in VR development. Patrick Bulman worked on GrooVR, an immersive music simulator for the Samsung Gear. Keith Kaisershot talked to us about his work at Other Ocean Interactive, describing himself as the company’s chief “VR evangelist.”
DigiPen graduates Chris Turnham and Kevin Dart earned an Annie Award for Outstanding Achievement in Production Design for an Animated TV/Broadcast Production. That award was in recognition for their incredible work on The Mr. Peabody & Sherman Show by Dreamworks TV.
While all those grads were busy making their mark in the digital world, graduate Isabel Anderson was engaged in slightly more tactile pursuits, parlaying her MFA thesis project, involving 3D-printed action figures, into a job at collectible toymaker Funko.
And for the seventh consecutive year DigiPen was ranked among the top five schools in The Princeton Review’s lists for the best schools to study game design. DigiPen ranked No. 4 for undergraduate schools and No. 5 for graduate schools.
It’s been great to share the success stories of so many awesome students and graduates over the course of the year. We look forward to even more exciting news in 2017!