DigiPen: The College That Teaches Crunch Culture (The Jimquisition)




DigiPen Institute of Technology is an incredibly influential establishment in the industry. A college respected enough to land its students jobs on sheer reputation, DigiPen is highly regarded.

It also teaches students to accept being overworked crunched to breaking point.

The Jimquisition has spoken with a number of DigiPen students who report feelings of mistreatment dissatisfaction with the unprofessional and abusive way Digipen prepared them for a life in the game industry. It’s a telling reflection of the industry’s prevailing attitudes.

20 Comments:

  1. Engaging even more with this video. It’s hard to know the right course of action and you’re awesome for putting this video out. Love your content and have a wonderful evening all.

  2. Shame the original was deleted, regardless of the reason. But this is still a great video and this stuff really needed to be said. Especially because those that wanted to speak can’t because they’re afraid of being blacklisted. Thank you for your hard work, Jim Stephanie Sterling!

  3. The Wandering Shadow

    Once upon a time I wanted to go to Digipen because of Extra Credits. I visited the place and hey, at least they were honest about how much work they were going to squeeze out of you. Nowadays, both Digipen and the person who made me interested in going there have been soured in my eyes. I guess I should be thankful.

  4. I had a friend who went here as an artist. Freshman year I visited her while I was on spring break, but they were still in school, so I just hung out and attended her classes. BOY it was brutal! Like I’m a student animator and to a certain extent we all deal with all nighters, but they had so much work to do it was impossible to get regular amounts of sleep. And that was in the middle of the semester, I can’t imagine what finals week was like.

  5. This right here? And example of practicing what you preach. Leading by example. Listening to the people. The whole reason JSS does what they do is because something this simple (not trying to insinuate that editing a video is a simple task) appears to be impossible for a multi-billion dollar corporation to do. If JSS and staff can turn around edits to a video based on viewer feedback in ~12 hours, how is it that difficult for a corporation the size of Ubisoft to do the bare minimum of acknowledging wrongdoing and taking meaningful steps to correct it?

  6. As someone who recently graduated from a teaching degree; this really, REALLY, pisses me off. Students would learn nothing but pain from the teachers described in this video.

  7. When I was looking at colleges, there was one particular “prestigious” college similar to DigiPen here in Florida that would make similar claims of “this isn’t for everyone” and “high failure rate”. One of the reps said that there would be courses where you would be “on call” at any time. I stupidly joked “What, like 3am?”. I will not forget the stone face of the rep say “Yes, and it is part of the Grade.”

    SO….. i went to a community college and state for finance…..

  8. We had a few hires recently fresh out of DigiPen. One is completely dead inside. The other two have had everything fed to them on a silver platter and seemingly didn’t learn anything other than self-entitlement. I know that’s a small batch; but it sure doesn’t paint a good picture. Especially not combined with what you’ve shared here.

  9. Any professor who revels in failing students is either trying hurt the college or has no clue that they’re a failure of a teacher. If most of your class fails your course, it’s because you failed to teach them properly and/or your assignments have unrealistic expectations compared to what the students are being taught.

  10. UnreasonableOpinions

    Imagine having the audacity to look at the hellish treatment, crunch and abuse of the AAA game industry, and then decide as an educational institution you can best position yourself to potential students by offering a deliberate replication of that moral squalor – except instead of paying them fifty grand a year, you charge them fifty grand a year for the privilege.

  11. “Trust the game industry. The game industry is your friend.”

    Does satire describe reality or do jerks in power use satire as a source of ideas?

  12. As someone who’s taught college courses- I’m disgusted by the way these students have been treated from a human perspective, but I’m also just… in awe that anyone thinks this sort of environment teaches any students anything. What absolute scumbags.

  13. What’s endlessly hilarious to me is that we’ve known that extended crunch is literally the opposite of effective for decades. It is an objective and well-established fact that you get better results faster if you just… don’t. Literally, all it would take is anyone in the industry to stop doing it and they would immediately see a massive increase in productivity. It would be better for everyone to just work normal hours with normal time off. It would be better for the workers, better for the managers, better for the executives, better for the stockholders, better for the customers… literally everybody wins if they just stop doing the extended crunch bullshit. Everybody even vaguely associated with video game would benefit, and the returns would be pretty much instantaneous.

    The only reason it’s still a thing is that the industry has this ridiculous blend of stupidity and sadism buried so deeply that they can’t being themselves to stop, even for their own benefit.

  14. I went to Digipen for 2 years for my Masters, and to this day, the most valuable thing I learned at Digipen was how toxic the video game industry was/is. When I was there (nearly 7 years ago) they would have prospective game studios come in on a weekly basis to present their company, and take questions, etc. Something that stood out to me was how often these companies would upsell their “on campus amenities”, while also dodging any serious questions pertaining to work-life balance; sometimes even pulling out the “we look for dedicated and passionate employees” card. That, among many other things, taught me after two years that this industry was not healthy, and not for me. It just sucks I had to pay, and am still paying off, so much money for the privilege =/

  15. I’m in an animation course, and our teachers give us a lot of work to prepare us for working in the field… they also run regular classes on time management, coping with imposter syndrome, etc, and encourage us to take regular breaks rather than work ourselves half to death. I’m really glad it didn’t end up being like DigiPen.

  16. Digipen student here, sadly there are some awful professors. Although I have not had the extreme one being talked about in the video, I have heard about him. I’d feel bad if I didn’t note that there are AMAZING professors too. Some of the professors truly care about their students; it’s unfortunate that this isn’t the case for a majority.

    Something crazy that I don’t see many people talk about is the disconnect between how many credits a class is worth and how time consuming it actually is. I’ve taken a 4 credit class (COM150) that I spent maybe 20 minutes a week to do homework. I’ve also taken (and retaken) a class worth 3 credits (CS280) that on average took 10 hours a week. Although schedules are balanced around having 18-ish credits a semester, it doesn’t mean much.

  17. Victoria Dominowski

    To anyone who is currently suffering at DP and has had to listen to them justify their bullshit curriculum that they make up on the fly, listening to lectures with no relevant information other than some bragging douchebag who doesn’t shut up about how he made a dragon game for the PSP or darts game for Windows Phone ages ago, just know that it’s entirely reasonable to drop out. I did after 3 years there and went on to make a solo project that let me break into the industry on my own, and now I have a stable career in game dev. 

    And I assure you, when they tell you that DP-style perpetual crunch is how the industry works all over, they are LYING to you. No place I have worked so far has done anything even remotely like what DP put me through.

  18. This place almost seems like a “re-education” centre you’d find in a dystopian future. “To train the game developer, you must first break the game developer”

  19. I graduated from Digipen, and I can tell you that the crunch culture is absolutely real there. Most teachers that came from the industry tell you horror stories of them sleeping at their desks at their previous industry jobs and basically tell you thats what you should look forward to.

    I stayed up multiple days in a row while working on projects that I started early. My team for the final senior project started our work the summer break before the beginning of the senior year and basically crunched the entire year and stayed up until the next morning of the final day to turn the project in on time.

    I remember they said they had to ban the sale of energy drinks in the school shop in the cafeteria because previous years had health related issues for staying up too late and drinking too much caffine. I feel like there was a rumor of someone dying because of it in an earlier year.

    I worked for a teacher at one of their personal small studios and am pretty sure I was laid off for not basically working overtime for no pay. Or for not staying at work overnight, which one of the employees did regularly while I was there. I was paid $15 an hour.

    I remember one of the big sales pitches of the school was that they had a very high percentage of graduated students getting jobs after attending, but never revealed that they were mostly just counting any closely related job after graduation as a success.

    I drive a delivery truck now and can tell you I get paid more and am respected more at my job now than I ever would have been in the video game industry.

  20. As an actual qualified teacher, I can tell you all of the “teaching” talked about in this video is not real teaching. No one learns from this style of teaching. The only result of this “teaching”is the complete destruction of a person to supposedly rebuild them again. That’s what cults do.

    Real teaching – the thing that I went to university for 8 years (did both bachelors and Masters) and worked years in, is about finding the right size ladder to allow the student to experience success. Building the right scaffolding and support for the student and using my knowledge of learning and a topic to get each student to the top of their chosen field.

    These so called teachers sound like kings in their castle shooting arrows and sending knights out to stop absolutely anyone from entering their castle.

    Disgusting so called teachers.

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