Back to top

Making a video game is no easy task — not only for the technical skills required, but also due to the challenges that come from working as part of a multidisciplinary creative team. Our faculty from the Department of Game Development and Production bring decades of insight and experience in team-based collaboration, with a specific emphasis on game and software production. Through the project-based courses they teach, students learn the ins and outs of product development, user experience, testing and iteration, project management, and more.


Faculty Directory

Department Faculty


DigiPen Faculty Ellen Guon Beeman

Ellen Guon Beeman

Department Chair
Senior Lecturer

Ellen Guon Beeman is a videogame designer and producer, with extensive experience in developing mobile, web, massively multiplayer, and console games. She has worked on over fifty games, initially with games in the award-winning Wing Commander series, and her roster of titles includes games based on major properties such as Marvel and Disney movies, and most recently, an array of indie mobile games. She has a wide array of skills including Agile game development, business development and entrepreneurship, marketing and PR, community, social media, and monetization and metrics strategies. She is especially interested in best practices for improving the usability of games, and has conducted dozens of usability studies and playtests.

Beeman has held salaried positions at Electronics Arts, Microsoft, Glu Mobile, and other game studios. As a freelancer, she worked for Disney, Sega, Leapfrog, and Mary-Margaret Network. Prior to her games career, Beeman was a professional children’s television writer, and she has published four novels and numerous short stories and non-fiction articles. She has a Bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

As an instructor in the Department of Game Software Design and Production, Beeman’s focus is on mentoring students to create the best games possible and to plan and prepare for successful game industry careers. “Game development is a unique blend of creativity, technology, and teamwork,” Beeman says. “The game project classes are an opportunity for students to learn essential game development skills and also how they can work together to create games that are so much more than they could do individually. I am continuously inspired by the innovation and talent in our student projects.”

Beeman is a frequent guest speaker at conferences, including the Game Developer Conference, PAX Dev, SXSW Interactive, LOGIN, Game Design Expo, iFest, and other game industry events. She was one of the five founders of the professional association Women in Games International, and was an elected board member of the International Game Developers Association. Prior to joining the DigiPen faculty, she served for several years as a DigiPen Professional Advisory Committee member.

Learn More


DigiPen Faculty Douglas Schilling

Douglas Schilling

Senior Lecturer

Douglas Schilling earned a Bachelor of Science in computer science with minors in mathematics and electrical engineering from Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA. He has over 23 years of professional programming experience in several diverse industries, including avionics, desktop publishing, game development, and information technology management.

During his 14 years in the game industry, Schilling worked extensively on hand-held gaming platforms, such as the Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, and Nintendo DS. He also worked on titles for the PlayStation, PlayStation 2, Wii, and Xbox 360.

Schilling has contributed to more than 40 game titles in a number of roles, including lead programmer, senior programmer and studio technical director. As studio technical director for Griptonite Games, he managed 30 developers working on as many as eight different game titles at a time.

Schilling enjoys teaching the freshman and senior Project courses, where he can share his extensive industry experience with both new students and those about to enter the game industry.

Selected Game Credits

  • Super Star Wars: Return of the Jedi for Game Boy
  • Heroes of Might and Magic for Game Boy Color
  • The Sims: Bustin’ Out for Game Boy Advance
  • The Urbz: Sims in the City for Nintendo DS

Additional game credits can be found at Moby Games.


DigiPen Faculty Jen Sward

Jen Sward

Associate Dean of Instruction
Principal Lecturer

Jen Sward trained to be an electrical engineer and computer scientist at the University of California, Davis, receiving a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering. After completing school, she worked for three years as a programmer and project manager specializing in fiber optics and satellite communications for the Naval Electronics Systems Command in Vallejo, CA.

Sward worked in the video game industry as a manager, project leader, producer, and designer at companies such as LucasArts Entertainment, Westwood Studios, Philips New Media, and RealTime Associates. She worked on the first “talky” game (Loom), setting the bar for the quality level of games today. She also worked on real-time strategy games, adventure games, puzzle games, and console games, focusing on user-centric design in the user experience. She later combined her game design and electrical engineering skills while working at LeapFrog Toys, designing and developing new technologies for electronic educational toys.

Sward is currently an Associate Dean of Instruction and Assessment at DigiPen, where she teaches in the Game Software Design and Production department. “One of the best reasons for teaching at DigiPen is the passion and commitment of the students to their education and to the game industry,” Sward says. “It makes it more challenging for us as instructors, as they are constantly pushing the cutting-edge of technology and game development, and thereby constantly pushing us as well.”


DigiPen Faculty Justin Chambers

Justin Chambers

Assistant Dean of Articulation and Coordination
Senior Lecturer

Justin Chambers is a graduate of DigiPen, having earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation in 2009. After working in the industry for several years, Chambers returned to DigiPen in 2016 to teach. He shares from many valuable perspectives — as a former student of DigiPen, a professional in the game industry, and now as an instructor of future game industry professionals.

Chambers started his career at game developer 5TH Cell, where he worked on Drawn to Life and Scribblenauts (he even appears as a spawnable character in all the Scribblenauts games, for those who still have a copy). He later moved to Microsoft and worked on many teams and products spanning the games and entertainment industry. Starting with Xbox Hardware, Chambers helped ship the Microsoft Kinect and worked on the graphics chips in the slim Xbox 360 console. He then switched teams to work on Xbox Music and Video applications for both Xbox One and Windows 8. At this time in his career, Chambers recognized that he liked using his people skills as much as his technical skills, and he switched roles from being a programmer to being a producer. Chambers then made his way to Xbox Global Publishing. While there, he supported and helped ship Microsoft HoloLens and all HoloLens launch titles. He also supported and helped ship several Xbox games, including Quantum Break, ReCore, Crackdown 3, State of Decay, Killer Instinct, Ori and the Blind Forest, and many more.

At DigiPen, Chambers is the freshman-level game project instructor. His classes focus on both the technical and team elements of making games. He firmly believes that team projects are the “special sauce” of DigiPen, essential for conveying the skills and experience that companies look for in our highly qualified graduates. He tries to create a safe place to fail fast and believes curiosity and experimentation is the best way to learn game programming. He is very invested in each and every student and is always willing to help and support in any way he can.

Learn More


DigiPen Faculty Rachel Rutherford

Rachel Rutherford

Senior Lecturer

Rachel Rutherford team-teaches game development classes with former Microsoft software developer Benjamin Ellinger. While Ellinger focuses on the technical and design aspects of game development, Rutherford focuses on the team and producing aspects. Together, this immerses student teams in leading-edge game development practices.

Rutherford has a B.A. in Rhetoric from U.C. Berkeley, and studied Piano and Dance for three years at Oberlin College and Conservatory of Music. She is an ensemble theater director who has studied and directed theater in Seattle, Poland, Wales, Russia, and Denmark, and has assistant-directed at the Seattle Opera, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Intiman Theatre (with Tony-award winning director Bartlett Sher), and the Grotowski-lineage physical theatre company, Akropolis Performance Lab. She also taught Acting, Movement, and Shakespeare through Bellevue College’s Continuing Education department for seven years.

Rutherford is a professional software and game creator. She has worked at Xerox PARC, Apple Computer, ImMIX, and Microsoft Game Studios, primarily as a program manager. She has published game titles on the PC, web, Xbox, Xbox 360, and Microsoft Surface, as well as in traditional media such as card, board, magnet, and spinner games. She worked for eight years in Microsoft Game Studios, where she was a program manager in the Kids Games group, the Action/Arcade/Strategy group, the Sports Games Studio, and the Casual Games Group’s first-party studio, Carbonated Games. For two of those years she was stationed in Sydney, Australia, where she worked for Microsoft with Australian game companies.

Rutherford’s professional focus is on teams as chaotic systems. She studies how to increase the acceleration rate of breakthroughs and phase shifts in teams. She is a Certified Associate Core Director of the McCarthy Core Protocols system for high-performance teams, and was in fact one of the early members of McCarthy Technologies, co-leading Software Development Bootcamps and teaching the Core Protocol system for 12 years. She also offers Core Protocol trainings for local CEOs, venture capitalists, leadership teams, game teams, and charitable organizations.

“What I love about DigiPen students is their integrity and passion,” Rutherford says. “The caliber and dedication of DigiPen’s game developers must be experienced to be believed. DigiPen is the top game college in the world. Outwardly plain, consisting mostly of computer labs, it is full of haggard luminous programmers, glorious emergent games, and a monastic single-mindedness. It is a conservatory training, a special forces one; elite, grueling, punishing, virtuosic, and culminating in a graduate-level math/physics/computer science education with four year-long completed games.

“I believe that inside this rigorous game programmer training, inside game development itself, a new kind of artist is being born, and with it a new kind of art. We are not training these game developers for the industry that exists. We are training them for the one that they will create.”

Game and Product Credits

  • Firefly, a demo by Microsoft, deployed on Microsoft Surface
  • Hop-It!, a web game by Microsoft, on msngames.com
  • Solitaire In Motion, a web game by Microsoft, on msngames.com
  • You Know It! Trivia 2, a web game by Microsoft, on msngames.com
  • Mythbots, the prototype of an Xbox 360 game by Microsoft
  • NHL Rivals 2004, an Xbox game by Microsoft, shipped retail
  • NBA Live 2003, an Xbox game by Microsoft, shipped retail
  • Reach For The Stars II, the prototype of a PC game, by Microsoft
  • Roller Hockey, the prototype of a PC game, by Microsoft
  • Horrorland and Say Cheese And Die, prototypes of two PC games, based on the Goosebumps book series, by Microsoft
  • Mountain, River, Wonderland, Factory, and two other kids’ adventure game prototypes, by Microsoft
  • Over 100 children’s educational games in traditional media (card games, board games, magnet games, and spinner games) by Intelligy
  • Workspaces, a demo for the Macintosh IIcx, by Apple
  • Hummingbird, a demo for the Macintosh IIcx, by Apple
  • The VideoCube, an $80,000 high-end realtime Mac-based video-editing system, by ImMIX

DigiPen Staff member Andrea Ellinger

Andrea Ellinger

Lecturer

Andrea Ellinger graduated from DigiPen with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering and Sound Design with honors in 2016. After working in DigiPen’s Research & Development department for several years, Ellinger began teaching at DigiPen in 2021 and became a full-time lecturer in 2022. Her primary focus is low-level and engine programming in languages like C++, but she also has experience with web programming, audio design, and production.

Ellinger was an engineer on the Zero Engine project, an advanced full 3D game engine built by DigiPen’s Research & Development department. She built a cross-platform and multi-channel 3D audio engine for the project from the ground up in C++, with features such as DSP effects, additive synthesis, threaded lockless file decoding, and a customizable node graph. She integrated this system into the Zero Engine, making sound nodes scriptable, adding UI for the node graph, and creating an automated testing project. Ellinger also created music, sound effects, and adaptive audio code that generated music using the additive synthesizer and Markov chain-based chord sequences. On other projects, Ellinger built a dynamic CMS-based web site from scratch (using NodeJS, Neo4j, and Vue), along with managing a team that created educational content for primary and secondary students.

As a lecturer at DigiPen, Ellinger is a freshman-level game project instructor for Computer Science students. Her classes introduce students to the process of building a real-time game engine and how to work with other engineers on a complex piece of software. She knows that you can only become good at something by actively doing it and that DigiPen’s project courses allow you to integrate and put into practice everything you’ve learned from your other courses. Working with a team of people from different backgrounds, perspectives, and skill sets is how good software and games get made, and Ellinger’s mission is to start you down that path by instilling the habits and skills you will need to succeed in your chosen career.


DigiPen Faculty Andrew Kaplan

Andrew Kaplan

Lecturer

Andrew Kaplan is an experienced executive producer and team leader with over 25 years in application development and hardware manufacturing. He has built software tools for developers, high-volume consumer electronics, and successful mass-market entertainment software — including casual and AAA games for web, PC, and mobile.

Prior to joining DigiPen, Kaplan worked at Warner Bros., Zynga, Jam City, and Sony Online Entertainment. He is also a founding member of two gaming startups.

Take the Next Step

Get connected with DigiPen and stay in the loop!

Sign up to get in touch with a personal representative at DigiPen, and we’ll also send you a digital viewbook detailing our degree programs.

Request Information

Start Your Application

Ready to take your education further? Head to our secure application portal and submit an application for admission.

Apply Online