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DigiPen students showed out in full force for the 13th annual Rookie Awards, a prestigious global competition for aspiring young creatives working in digital media. DigiPen game and film projects, as well as individual students, received honors and awards in a range of categories in the 2023 competition, going up against a crowded field of 5,517 entries, representing 521 schools from 106 countries. Their amazing work catapulted DigiPen into five separate categories of the Rookies Global School Rankings for 2023, including the No. 2 school for Production Excellence – Console Games.

Rookies Global School Rankings

The talent DigiPen students displayed at the Rookies earned the school institution-wide honors and landed it among the Top 50 Creative Schools.

  • Ranked second for Production Excellence - Console Games
  • Ranked tenth for Concept Art & Illustration
  • Ranked eleventh for Game Design & Development
  • Ranked fifteenth for Production Excellence - 2D Animations

The eight-student DigiPen film team Pipeline Pilots earned an Excellence Award and a People’s Choice Award in the Film of the Year – 2D Animation category for their short The Little Rat. Created over the course of their junior and senior year, the film tells the story of Minuet, a mouse who realizes her small stature is actually an asset after a trio of rats bully her because of her size. Student team Reel Cool’s short zombie comedy Heads Up earned a Draft Selection in the Film of the Year – 2D Animation category as well. And the DigiPen Europe-Bilbao team behind Conej Steps Out — about a plucky animal who goes the extra mile to win over his date — earned an Excellence Award and finalist spot in the same 2D animation category.

Five DigiPen student development teams impressed this year’s judges with their innovative action and adventure games. DigiPen Europe-Bilbao student game Han’yo, a samurai side-scroller with a Japanese ink-inspired aesthetic, was given a Highly Commended honor and finalist designation in the Game of the Year – Console/PC category. Also from DigiPen Europe-Bilbao, the arctic-themed Anyu and rhythmic brawler Cat-aclysm each picked up an Excellence Award and finalist spot in the Game of the Year – Console/PC category. Games from DigiPen’s Redmond campus also received recognition in the same category, with floral 3D action game Green Reaper picking up a finalist designation, and shopping spree party game Grocery Gauntlet earning a Draft Selection.

DigiPen digital art students picked up plenty of accolades in the competition as well. MFA in Digital Arts student Jessica Chen received an Editor’s Choice designation for her portfolio and won Mighty Kingdom’s Career Opportunity contest, earning four weeks of professional mentorship with the Australian game development studio. BFA in Digital Art and Animation student Nitis Borirakpanich landed a finalist designation in realworld one’s Career Opportunity contest as well for his portfolio of concept art, visual development, and illustration work.

Fellow BFA Juthapat Limpattanakul also earned an Excellence Award, Editor’s Choice award, and a finalist designation for his 3D environment art in the Rookie of the Year – Game Development category. Ethan Yant’s 3D environment art impressed as well, picking up an Excellence Award from the judges.

Congratulations to each of this year’s award winners and honorees!


Conej Steps Out(DigiPen Europe-Bilbao)

  • Finalist – Film of the Year, 2D Animation
  • Excellence Award

The Little Rat

  • Film of the Year – People’s Choice
  • Finalist – Film of the Year, 2D Animation
  • Excellence Award

Heads Up

  • Draft Selection – Film of the Year, 2D Animation


(DigiPen Europe-Bilbao)

  • Finalist – Game of the Year, Console/PC
  • Excellence Award

(DigiPen Europe-Bilbao)

  • Finalist – Game of the Year, Console/PC
  • Excellence Award

(DigiPen Europe-Bilbao)

  • Finalist (Highly Commended) – Game of the Year, Console/PC

Green Reaper

  • Finalist – Game of the Year, Console/PC

Grocery Gauntlet

  • Draft Selection – Game of the Year, Console/PC


Jessica Chen

  • Winner – Career Opportunities, Mighty Kingdom
  • Finalist – Career Opportunities, PlaySide Studios
  • Editor’s Choice

Nitis Borirakpanich

  • Finalist – Career Opportunities, realworld one

Juthapat Limpattanakul

  • Finalist – Rookie of the Year, Game Development
  • Excellence Award
  • Editor’s Choice

Ethan Yant

  • Excellence Award – 3D Environment Art