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With a focus on project-based learning, courses in the Department of Game Software Design and Production lead to the design and creation of countless student video games, analog games, and computer science projects. Students learn how to work on a development team, as well as the ins and outs of product development, user experience, testing and iteration, project management, and more. Department faculty bring decades of game industry experience and invaluable insight into the multifaceted development process.

Department Faculty

Richard Thames Rowan

Department Co-Chair
Senior Lecturer

Richard Rowan has been passionate about games his entire life, beginning his exploration of game design at the age of four. After completing a Bachelor of Arts in Gaming Systems & Applications at Western Washington University, he immediately launched his 20-year career in the game industry, where he worked in quality assurance, design, and production.

Rowan has worked on over 50 game products throughout his career, working his way up from an entry-level position in quality assurance and design up through various roles including Studio Manager, Executive Producer, and Lead Designer. He has created games for seven different publishing platforms in genres ranging from hardcore massively multiplayer online games to casual web and mobile games. He has worked for large companies such as Microsoft Game Studios as well as small game industry startups.

In addition to his video game credits, Rowan also has extensive experience with board games, tabletop roleplaying games, and trading card games. He worked for Wizards of the Coast for two years and founded two hobby game industry startups primarily focused on roleplaying games. He has a library of over 600 board games and 3,000 roleplaying game supplements. He is currently working on a textbook covering the 5,000-year history of games.

Rowan enjoys teaching game history, user experience design, production, and game design courses. He loves mentoring and challenging students to achieve their very best and especially loves when students achieve more than they ever thought possible. His hobbies include sailing, writing, designing games and traditional puzzles, playing European-style board games, and sharing these hobbies with his daughter.

Douglas Schilling

Department Co-Chair
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.

Jen Sward

Associate Dean
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.”

Ben Ellinger

Vice President of Software Production
Program Director (BS in Computer Science and Game Design), Principal Lecturer

Benjamin Ellinger broke into the game industry more than 20 years ago at Steve Jackson Games, where he worked on board games such as Car Wars and role-playing games such as GURPS. Later, he worked as a programmer and designer on real-time strategy games, including This Means War! and Dawn of War, and massively multiplayer online games such as Ultima Online, Ashen Empires, and The Matrix Online, as well as Bicycle® Texas Hold ’em, the Fable II Pub Games, and the secret Microsoft Natal prototype project.

Ellinger has worked for small start-up companies, as a freelance contractor, and full-time at Microsoft as both a developer and a program manager. He has taught at DigiPen since 2003.

Ellinger was born and raised in Austin, Texas. He began programming computers over 30 years ago, starting out on a Commodore PET in the late 1970s. Oddly enough, he has a Bachelor of Science in kinesiology with a specialty in weight training from the University of Texas; but while he has taken only a handful of computer science classes, he knows a great deal about practical coding from professional experience, especially in the areas of game logic, artificial intelligence, physics, and networking. He plays and designs card games, board games, and tabletop role-playing games in addition to computer games.

“Teaching at DigiPen is not a job - it is a calling,“ Ellinger says. “The students have a dedication and commitment to learning that matches any school in the world. As an instructor here, I have the great responsibility of taking enthusiastic and hopeful students and forging them into elite professional game developers. The standards are high, and not a single day can be wasted. But for anyone who loves to teach, there is no better place to be.”

Selected Game Credits

  • Fable II Pub Games, created by Carbonated Games, published by Microsoft, 2008
  • Bicycle® Texas Hold ’em, created by Carbonated Games, published by Microsoft, 2006
  • The Matrix Online, created by Monolith Productions, published by Warner Bros., 2005
  • Dransik/Ashen Empires, created and published by Asylumsoft/Iron Will Games, 2003
  • Ultima Online, created by Origin Systems, published by Electronic Arts, 1997
  • This Means War!, created by Starjammer Studios, published by Microprose, 1996
  • GURPS Space, published by Steve Jackson Games, 1988
  • Aegis Wing, published by Microsoft

Selected Publications

  • “Artificial Personality: A Personal Approach to AI,” in AI Game Programming Wisdom 4 (Charles River Media, 2008)
  • Assistant editor for Autoduel Quarterly, published by Steve Jackson Games, 1988

Jeremy Holcomb

Program Director (BA in Game Design)
Senior Lecturer

Jeremy Holcomb is a game designer with extensive experience in the design, development, and marketing of tabletop board and card games. He has over 20 board game design credits. His game The Duke, which he co-designed for publisher Catalyst Game Labs in 2013, earned a 2014 Mensa Select award.

Holcomb speaks at several gaming convention panels and previously taught game design at the ASUW Experimental College at the University of Washington. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Communication from the University of Washington. At DigiPen, Holcomb designs and delivers course content on the fundamentals of game design, with a special focus on rapid system design and playtesting. His personal quest is to play every game that exists at least once.

“It’s always difficult to get into anybody else’s headspace. And it’s one of the reasons that I encourage students — with all of their projects — to just go put it in front of other people,” Holcomb says. “There is no way to sit in a vacuum and go, ‘Oh, yes. This is the right answer.’ That’s not how it works.”

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Ellen Guon Beeman

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.

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Siobhan Beeman

Senior Lecturer

Siobhan Beeman is a 30-year veteran of the board game and computer game industries. Her career began at Steve Jackson Games, editing the Car Wars line. Moving to computer games, she joined legendary publisher Origin Systems, directing the award-winning Wing Commander II. After working as game developer and technology evangelist at The 3DO Company, Beeman co-founded Illusion Machines Incorporated, an independent game studio in Austin, Texas, that developed games and applications for Microsoft, Virgin Interactive, MSN, and MicroProse.

Beeman returned to Origin/Electronic Arts in 2000 as Director of Online Technology. Joining Microsoft as a Lead Developer for server development, security, and billing systems, she later became a Lead Program Manager, creating a peer-to-peer gaming platform for MSN Instant Messenger and leading development for the prototyping team that led to the Xbox Kinect project. Later, she joined The Amazing Society/Gazillion as Lead Server Engineer for the Marvel Super Hero Squad massively-multiplayer online game.

Beeman is now a Senior Lecturer at DigiPen, teaching networking, computer security, concurrent programming, and software engineering. She also consults on a variety of projects that explore the intersection of entertainment with everyday life and the Internet of Things.

She has often been a guest speaker at professional conferences, including the Game Developers Conference, PAX Dev, and other game industry events.

Christopher Orth

Senior Lecturer

Christopher Orth has served as both a designer and technical artist on various game development projects in adventure, simulation, flight, and RPG genres on multiple game consoles, handheld systems, PC, VR, and iOS.

Before joining DigiPen as a full-time senior lecturer, Orth was a regular instructor at Bellevue College and Lake Washington College. He was the Education Director for Experience America for over four years, where he led month-long game development courses for hundreds of international students hosted at Washington State University. He has created nearly 20 hours of online video tutorials focusing on game development using Unity3D, including a Udemy course ranked as bestselling. His teaching experience goes all the way back to the mid-90s, when he taught internet and software skills to educators and libraries through the statewide Plains and Peaks Regional Library Service System in Colorado.

Before entering the gaming industry, Orth developed a wide range of skills in related fields. He was the Director of Web Development for Casey Family Programs, the then second largest operating non-profit in the United States. He created and sold a successful 3D tutorial web site. And he performed live music in various professional bands, while also operating live sound reinforcement systems and recording various musical acts in recording studios.

Lifelong learning has been a huge theme in Orth’s life. He holds an AA degree in Animation Graphics and Compositing from Bellevue College. He has studied design, drawing, and painting at the School of Visual Concepts. And as a voracious autodidact he continually challenges himself to grow his skills through workshops, books, videos, classes, and any other resources that become available.

Bill Morrison

Senior Lecturer

Bill Morrison is a 20-year veteran of the video game industry, with design credits across a wide range of titles and game genres. He has worked for such companies as LucasArts Entertainment and Microsoft, where he contributed to such landmark games as the Star Wars: X-Wing space combat series and served as game design lead on Star Trek: Bridge Commander and Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge.

Bill joined DigiPen in September of 2009 when he pioneered the DigiPen-Ubisoft program at DigiPen’s Singapore campus, leading an intensive program aimed at training advanced students in the art and discipline of game design. His first cohort of students went on to win awards for Best Student Game and Excellence in Technology for their game Void at the 2010 Independent Games Festival in Shanghai, China.

He returned to the Redmond campus in the fall of 2010 to continue teaching core classes for the BA in Game Design and BS in Computer Science and Game Design degree programs. At DigiPen, Bill has discovered a deep passion for teaching — combining his love of games and design, collaboration, mentorship, and fostering relationships — culminating in helping others to achieve their goals and dreams.

Boyan Radakovich

Senior Lecturer

Boyan Radakovich is a senior lecturer for the core design courses in system design, narrative design, and user research. His classes are rigorous and based on a strong foundation in neuroscience and empirical testing, often challenging students to grow into better game designers. Radakovich has a fearsome reputation, but also one of the highest student approval ratings on campus.

Before coming to DigiPen, Radakovich helped usher in a golden age in tabletop gaming as the writer and co-producer of the popular show TableTop, the creator of the gaming holiday TableTop Day, and as a frequent speaker at conventions like SXSW, PAX, and Gen Con. During this boom, the community saw a rapid doubling that brought tabletop gaming even further into the mainstream.

Radakovich is an award-winning game designer with a dozen tabletop game development credits and has consulted for large publishers such as Amazon, Asmodee, and Apple. He grew up in Southern California, considers himself a humanist, and has a weakness for corgis.

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
  • Solitaire In Motion, a web game by Microsoft, on
  • You Know It! Trivia 2, a web game by Microsoft, on
  • 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

Jo Cronk


Jo Cronk is a software engineer and UX specialist with over two decades of professional experience in the tech industry. She developed a love for computer programming very early in life and went to work for Microsoft directly after high school graduation. During her time there, she worked on a variety of projects including Age of Empires 2, Age of Empires: Rise of Rome, Urban Assault, Outwars, Pandora’s Box, Close Combat III, Motocross Madness 2, the MSN Gaming Zone, and Asheron’s Call.

She later received a BS in Human Centered Design and Engineering (a combination of computer science, psychology, sociology, industrial design, and user research) from the University of Washington, where she earned the Undergraduate Award of Excellence for demonstrating special strength in innovation. Coming from a more recent background in mobile application development and tools engineering for companies such as Crystal Dynamics, Snowblind Studios, PopCap Games, and Wargaming, she is currently teaching design and technology classes at DigiPen with an emphasis on user experience and technical design.

Cronk is also an experienced public speaker, appearing at many technology and gaming conferences such as the Game Developers Conference, Casual Connect, iFEST, Laval Virtual (France), Digital Nationz (New Zealand), plus various Women in Games speaking events organized by Microsoft, Amazon, and the International Game Developers Association.

Selected Credits

  • Age of Empires: Rise of Rome, developed by Ensemble Studios, published by Microsoft
  • Close Combat III: The Russian Front, developed by Atomic Games, published by Microsoft
  • Lara Croft: Tomb Raider - Legend, developed by Crystal Dynamics, published by Eidos
  • Justice League Heroes, developed by Snowblind Studios, published by Warner Bros.
  • Plants vs. Zombies 2: It’s About Time, developed by PopCap Games, published by Electronic Arts
  • castAR (AR/VR hardware system), developed by castAR (formerly Technical Illusions)
  • World of Tanks Console Companion, developed and published by Wargaming

Josh Hamrick

Adjunct Faculty

Josh Hamrick earned a Bachelor of Science in Game Design & Development from Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida. He has over 10 years of professional game design experience and has worked with some of the industry’s best and brightest. He is currently the sandbox design lead at Bungie, working on the Destiny series.

Hamrick is serious about game feel and being an advocate for the player. Over his career in the game industry, Hamrick has worked on games for Xbox 360, Xbox One, Playstation 3, Playstation 4, and PC.

Selected Game Credits

  • Halo: Reach
  • Destiny
  • Destiny: The Taken King
  • Fallout 4
  • Fallout 76
  • Destiny 2
  • Destiny 2: Forsaken

Angie Hoffman


Angie Hoffman started in the game industry in 2004 after a career in law enforcement. Hoffman studied psychology, sociology, and criminal justice at Western State College of Colorado for her BA. She also earned an MFA in Creative Writing for Entertainment from Full Sail University. Hoffman worked at several studios, including Mythic Entertainment, Electronic Arts, Trion, Sparkplay Media, ChangYou, Zynga, TinyCo, and Soulbound Studios. Having worked for both startups and big publishers, she has led QA teams, been a F2P MMO producer for an international client, and won awards for her game design work at Zynga. Hoffman’s passion in design is not only to create engaging narratives that blend mechanics with your message, but also to empower the next generation to create games to change the world.

Hoffman was in the press regularly for awards and recognition for her work in co-creating’s “Game Design Academy” for the San Francisco United School District (SFUSD). She created curriculum for a two-year honors Career and Technical Education program for 11th and 12th graders which offered a paid internship capstone. This program grew from its pilot of 12 students to a program supported by several SFUSD schools. After the program’s first year, female student enrollment was up to 47%, which is quite an accomplishment for a tech-based STEM program in high-poverty schools.

Hoffman has been teaching a blend of freshman core classes and building a narrative track to be rolled out in the coming semesters.

Justin Chambers


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 freshmen-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.

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