Impressions of……………… Digipen
Digipen is a college like no other, that I knew, but it does have similarities with other colleges in many ways, this surprised me. Digipen is a college. A real college with real degrees and graduates who get real jobs. It’s located in Redmond, Washington in one building in a corporate complex with other unrelated businesses. Sounds odd. It also offers 8 majors. They have to do with video game design. Computer programers who do the coding are computer science majors. Digital artists who do the art. Game design which oversees the whole process and music and sound degree which does music and sound for the games. Computer engineers are involved in the hardware for computers, especially for gaming. There are about 1000 students in these majors. The faculty are all computer industry vets. The have a research floor that does research for Boeing and Indy car racing. Their research floor specializes in computer simulation. They’ve won many awards and have many patents for their simulation programs.
Students do very little humanities. This is not a well rounded education. All the computer related majors get the basic computer sciences and work on projects all four years. Basic courses in math and physics are needed to make you a better computer game maker. Artists spend most of their first two years doing “traditional” art. Drawing, sculpture, etc. Junior year they learn to transfer these skills to the computer. Digital artists don’t just do gaming, they also do animation, like in movies. About half the computer students go off to jobs in the gaming industry. The other half do what ever non-gaming programers do, because they have the skill.
They do have a leg up in the field of simulations. Artists can do “regular” art or digital art, because they have the skill sets for both. They earn a BFA degree. Sound and music is the newest major. They learn how to do sound/music for video games. Music is different because the games don’t have the same “path”, unlike a movie which has a known order of events, games don’t so the music is different. The only humanities they take are pyschology-as it pertains to computer gaming. All students take around 20 credits each semester, so there is a lot of work, but it’s all in something the students are interested in. Acceptance rate is around 50% and pre-calulus is the only pre-requisite math for the computer side. Artists must submit a portfolio and music requires auditions. About half the graduates will work at Microsoft. Many work in the financial industry or for google or Amazon. The reason that the school is located in Redmond is because there are over 350 companies related to computer gaming within 20 minutes of Redmond.Nintendo, Bungee, TurnTen, Oculus Rift, and Microsoft are in Redmond as well as many independent start ups. Campus housing is available. They own apartments that have 2-3 bedrooms and a living space and kitchen. 4-5 students share each apartment to keep costs down. (housing is expensive in that area) There is a shuttle to take students the 1-1/2 mile round trip that runs every hour. Most students spend all day at the college and do all their work there. Most of the work is team oriented with programs, designers, artists, each bringing their expertise to the project, usually a video game or animated movie. Like a “real” college, there are RA’s and clubs. About half the clubs are computer related and about half are just a bunch of kids who have a similar interest. About half the students come right from high school. The rest come in as transfers, or other jobs. About 50% are from out of state and 15% international.
There is a dining hall on campus also.
About 80% of the computer side is male and about 60% of the artist side is female. About 85% get jobs right out of school and about 75% of the artisits. About 70% of students do receive aid. The students seemed to be what I expected, male kind of nerdy, engineer types. More the passionate gaming types than the intelectual types of engineers.
Pro tip – Make sure you really want to do gaming, because to switch majors to another field really means you need to go to a different college. This is real computer world. You need to do the math and work hard in your field. You don’t just sit around and play or make video games. It takes work and it hopefully it won’t seem like work, because you love it so much.
My impressions- If you really like computing and video games and have do some coding or computer building or an artist that wants to work in the gaming field, this could be for you.
I think if you’re turned off by all the “other” requirements schools have and just want to do computing especially gaming, Digipen is a great place to learn and yes, its a lot like a real college. (No sports, but they are the Dragons!)