During my time at the Game Developer’s Conference, I joined its Conference Associate family who had successful alumni from DePaul University. We talked a lot about the school which transitioned to a rant on its current situation with recent alumni and how no one getting any jobs. I asked them how they became successful then they mentioned the DGE, a program no student knows about at DePaul University.
During the early years of DePaul University’s Game Development Program, there was a program to promote students called the DGE (DePaul Game Elites, soon becoming DePaul Gaming Experience). This covered months of interviews trying to find the “best of the best” students among the graduate and undergraduates in the university. In June of 2009, a group of DePaul students were formed to create the DePaul Game Elites.
This group was assigned the “simple” task to create an original game in six months to compete in the Independent Games Festival. Advised by industry veterans Alex Seropian, Patrick Curry, Bill Muehl, Joe Linhoff, and Scott Roberts the original team composed of six programmers, six artists, two designers, and one producer.
After six months of conceptualizing, prototyping, and development, DGE #1 finished their game, Devil’s Tuning Fork. This game became a hit and was accepted into IGF at the Game Developers Conference. Being DePaul’s first IGF Student Showcase, it led to every member getting industry jobs upon graduation. The DGE became a yearly program after that. Later during DGE #2, Octodad was created making history within the gaming industry.. With the game being so successful, a term was created called the “Octodad Standard”. In that same year, the founders had to leave DePaul to go back to the gaming industry. With them gone, students and faculty within the University expected games to be better, funnier, and more innovative than Octodad making expectations a problem.
During the DGE #3 and DGE #4, the teams had to deal with the Octodad Standard and faculty were getting too hands on with the development process. This left faculty being biased towards DGE students, and spending less time on other students within DePaul’s Game Development program. This soon led to the downfall of the DGE causing a restart of the program with new faculty members and abolishing the school’s former game dev website.
Now why does this matter? DePaul is ranked one of the top schools in Game Design based off the DGE’s success and faculty. When I came to DePaul was when the department was starting fresh with new faculty members and a restructure of the program. Students now don’t know about the DGE history and believe that they can go Indie after graduating, just like Octodad. Its a path I’ve seen countless students say week after week during my last three years at the University, but never being successful. Typically less than 10% of graduating Game Developers from DePaul actually get full time industry jobs.
Back to GDC! Once I learned about the DGE, I thought a lot about it with the DePaul Alumni. I wish this was a thing still and wanted to create a program based off the original structure. A program that can benefit people and hopefully show that we have students with potential. The members of the former DGE and school alumni soon told me to start my own program which leads to the JDE, the Josh Delson Experience.