We’re catching up with members of DigiPen’s 2013 graduating class to find out where they’re headed.
Jeff Morgan graduated from the Bachelor of Science in Computer Science in Real-Time Interactive Simulation program. Morgan is currently interning as a gameplay programmer at Zombie Studios in Seattle and will begin a full-time job at Microsoft this August.
How has your work at Zombie compared so far to your work at DigiPen?
Even in the first week or two I can see the differences. At DigiPen I’ve been the core programmer on every team I’ve been on. It’s kind of the case of big fish in a small pond, in that we work on projects that we think are large as students. But they’re really quite small.
The project I’m working on at Zombie — it’s at least 10 times bigger, just in the number of different pieces of data, different modules that you’re dealing with. Jumping into that kind of engine as opposed to jumping into a DigiPen engine is just totally different. But at the same time, a lot of the skills and a lot of the tools that we have to learn at DigiPen — that stuff still translates.
What was your experience with programming before coming to DigiPen?
I had an associate’s degree already, and then I had like three-and-a-half years at another school. Then I was a programmer in the Air Force for a while. I served from 2006 to 2010. So I had a lot of computer programming before this. But I came to DigiPen, and in the first two years there were a lot of teachers that taught us — Professor (Matthew) Mead especially — how to be a professional about it.
A lot of computer science schools are very theoretical, and it’s not really about the practice of programming and not really about implementing anything. It’s about understanding the broad field of all CS stuff. DigiPen is very focused, and it’s about real-world implementation. It’s really useful, because now I can just go and jump into a job.
What did you find most valuable about your DigiPen education?
They give you an environment to go learn things on your own, and that’s kind of the appeal of a school like DigiPen, the year-long projects you do every year. You pour hours — 40, 60 hours a week — into your game project. And it doesn’t really leave enough time for a social life.
It’s worth it, because the reason why someone like myself or other people that came before me are in demand is because of that game project, because we worked so hard at it and had to solve problems that we’ll have to solve in the industry.
What was it like going from the military to DigiPen?
I was a programmer, so I’d been working with programmers. But they were older, a little bit more mature, a little more world-traveled. And when I first came into DigiPen I had a lot of ego. And it took a while to kind of grow out of that. It took a lot of upperclassmen showing me that the ego part of being a programmer doesn’t help you. It just gets in your way.
What do you look forward to with your job at Microsoft?
Being able to make money programming again is going to be nice. Being with people that are going to be much smarter than I am and having another chance to prove myself and to grow — that would be the number one thing.