Department of Game Software Design and Production

Douglas Schilling

Douglas Schilling, Senior Lecture in DigiPen's Department of Game Software Design and Production

Department Chair, Game Software Design and Production
Senior Lecturer, Game Software Design and Production

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

Benjamin Ellinger

Ben Ellinger

Vice President of Software Production
Program Director, Game Design Programs
Principal Lecturer, Game Software Design and Production

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 an 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
  • 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

Jen Sward

Associate Dean, Game Software Design and Production
Principal Lecturer, Game Software Design and Production

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 left to work for the next 15 years 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. Sward worked on the first “talky” game (Loom) released in the United States. She has also worked on real-time strategy games, adventure games, puzzle games, and console games, focusing on user-centric design. Later, she combined her game design and electrical engineering skills while working at LeapFrog Toys, designing online user experiences for parents and children, and developing new technologies for electronic educational toys.

She is currently an Associate Dean for Game Design at DigiPen, where she teaches in the Game Design and Software Production Department. As Program Director for the Bachelor of Science in Game Design and Bachelor of Arts in Game Design, Sward constantly plans and develops curriculum across all media. She was also the International Game Developers (IGDA) Seattle Sputnik leader for four years, coordinating and leading meetings for local professional game developers on a monthly basis.

“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."

“Most recently, DigiPen has started the Bachelor of Science in Game Design and the Bachelor of Arts in Game Design programs, which I was highly involved in developing. It's a passion of mine to see great games get made and to see students receive the training they need.”

Ellen Guon Beeman

Ellen Guon Beeman

Senior Lecturer, Game Software Design and Production

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.

Ellen 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, Ellen was a professional children’s television writer, and she has published four novels and numerous short stories and non-fiction articles. She has a Bachelors degree from the University of California at Santa Cruz.

As an instructor in the Department of Game Software Design and Production, Ellen'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."

Ellen 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. Ellen 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, Ellen served for several years as a DigiPen Professional Advisory Committee member.

Jeremy Holcomb

Jeremy Holcomb

Senior Lecturer, Game Software Design and Production

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."

Bill Morrison

Senior Lecturer, Game Software Design and Production

Bill Morrison is a 15-year veteran of the video game industry with design credits on over 10 titles. He has worked for such companies as Microsoft and LucasArts, where he contributed to landmark games like the X-Wing space combat series. He also served as Game Design Lead on Star Trek: Bridge Commander and Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge. Morrison joined DigiPen in September of 2009, where he pioneered the DigiPen-Ubisoft program at DigiPen's Singapore campus, creating an intensive curriculum aimed at training advanced students in the art and discipline of game design. He returned to the U.S. in the fall of 2010 to continue teaching in the Game Software Design and Production department.

Richard Thames Rowan

Senior Lecturer, Game Software Design and Development

Rich 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.

Rich 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, Rich 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.

Rich 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.

Rachel Rutherford

Senior Lecturer, Game Software Design and Production

Rachel Rutherford team-teaches game development classes with two other former Microsoft software developers, Chris Peters and Benjamin Ellinger. While Peters and Ellinger focus on the technical and design aspects of game development, respectively, 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 accleration 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