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Recent Grad Plugs Into Blizzard

DigiPen graduate Ryan Chew attributes his current job at Blizzard Entertainment to a stroke of luck, but that’s only partially true.

The lucky part was winning a free ticket to the 2012 Game Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco, where he introduced himself to as many game industry veterans as he could. The rest was a combination of hard work, persistence, and dedication, all of which showed through in his student work at DigiPen.

Chew began his studies at DigiPen Institute of Technology Singapore in 2008. After completing his first year, he was awarded a full-tuition scholarship by Singapore’s Media Development Authority. He also landed an internship at Ubisoft Singapore, where he helped work on the Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon series. Impressed with his work, Ubisoft offered Chew a full-time game design position, an offer he turned down in order to complete his degree program (BSCS in RTIS).

"Having people actually play a game and enjoy it, and then tell us that they enjoyed it, it changes how you look at things and the work that you do."

“I’d been programming for a while, and I got way better when I joined the school, because DigiPen tends to teach a lot of the things that most other schools don’t put too much of a focus on,” Chew says. “We had to write our own software graphics renderer — from drawing the pixels ourselves all the way up to actual texture mapping — pretty much implementing what a modern-day graphics card does now and that everybody takes for granted.”

As one of the original members on the eight-person DigiPen student game team Double++, Chew helped program the isometric stealth game Deity. While the game went through many changes and revisions, the final project was a runaway success, taking home the $25,000 grand prize at the 2012 Independent Propeller Awards and earning a spot in the PAX 10 indie game showcase.

“Having people actually play a game and enjoy it, and then tell us that they enjoyed it, it changes how you look at things and the work that you do,” Chew says.

When Chew won a chance to travel to GDC during the final semester of his senior year, he brought along videos of the tools he created for Deity, which he was able to present to prospective employers on his iPad. Part of Chew’s strategy, he says, was to ask booth representatives if he could speak directly to company programmers.

"I played everything from The Lost Vikings to Blackthorne, Warcraft, StarCraft — all the way up,"

“I think what really helped me was I got to know the people that were hovering around the Blizzard booth,” Chew says. “And that was when I showed them my stuff, and they were all really impressed with the things that I had done.”

After sending in a résumé and following up with a Blizzard programmer, Chew interviewed for a programming position at the company and was eventually hired to the company’s distribution team in Irvine, California. Since starting in September, Chew has worked on technical issues related to game patching and downloading.

“It’s pretty challenging actually, having to learn all the stuff that they’ve built,” Chew says. “So I’ve been slowly working my way up.”

While new to the company, Chew is no stranger to the company’s renowned lineup of games, which he grew up playing in his home country. “I played everything from The Lost Vikings to BlackthorneWarcraftStarCraft — all the way up,” he says.

"Whatever you do, it’s meant for millions of people."

How does it feel to now be a part of the Blizzard legacy? “Amazing,” he says, and still a bit hard to comprehend. Just weeks after his start date, Chew had the opportunity to attend the official Blizzard launch party for Mists of Pandaria, the fourth expansion pack to the popular World of Warcraft online game. Surprisingly, he says, there were fans who approached the team specifically to offer thanks and positive feedback in regards to their game patching experience.

“The more I’ve been learning over the last few weeks, the more it hits me that whatever you do, it’s meant for millions of people,” he says. “Your perspectives change. It reminds you that everything you do has ripples across the world — literally.”