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In the past twelve months, DigiPen Europe-Bilbao has continued to be a dynamic hub of creativity, progress, and achievement. This annual review explores the vibrant tapestry of successes the DigiPen Europe-Bilbao community has experienced in 2023. Our retrospective encapsulates a year marked by growth, collaboration, and excellence. Join us as we traverse through 12 milestones that have shaped our journey this past year.

Year in Review

1 - The Princeton Review

Recognized as one of the best design schools globally and in North America, The Princeton Review ranked DigiPen No. 5 on its 2023 list of the top 50 undergraduate schools and No. 8 on its list of the top 25 graduate schools. This marks the 14th consecutive year DigiPen has been ranked among the top five undergraduate schools.

The rankings are based on a 2022 survey of administrators at 150 institutions worldwide, each offering courses and degrees in game development. The data collected assessed factors such as curriculum, facilities, research, faculty achievements, and alumni success.

DigiPen’s consistent ranking reflects its commitment to academic excellence and the notable achievements of its students. Read about the multiple awards and accolades students earned, as well as other ways our school has impacted the game industry, in our full breakdown on The Princeton Review report.

Top game design programs logo created for Digipen Institute of Technology

2 - Singapore Overseas Immersion Program

A review of the past year isn’t complete without highlighting the summer when we shared our campus with students from the DigiPen (Singapore) campus. The Overseas Immersion Program (OIP) aimed to provide students with a distinctive opportunity for cultural exchange, allowing them to immerse themselves in European and Basque culture while pursuing their studies abroad.

Structured around a carefully curated curriculum, the OIP encompassed a diverse range of courses and workshops tailored to enhance the educational experience for all students involved. The program’s commencement featured a welcoming event, creating a warm and inviting atmosphere for students to interact with their European counterparts and acclimate to the unique academic environment.

Throughout the program, students actively engaged in exploring Bilbao’s architectural marvels and vibrant local lifestyle. The OIP not only served as an academic endeavor but also as a platform for like-minded students from diverse corners of the world to come together, exchange cultural insights, and foster personal and academic growth.

Host students and guest students are sharing food and drinks at the meet and greet event from OIP at DigiPen Europe-Bilbao campus.

3 - Student Internships and Company Involvement

The continuously successful Student Internship Program connected our talented students with industry-leading companies, providing them with invaluable real-world experience and opportunities to apply their skills in professional settings while forming crucial connections. Positive feedback from both students and partnering companies underscores the effectiveness of this program in preparing students for the dynamic field of game development and digital arts.

Partnering with key local agents, DigiPen orchestrated on-campus company days that featured representatives from notable organizations. Partners included Vicomtech, a Basque technology center specialized in artificial intelligence and visual computing and interaction; Satlantis, a company specializing in the design and manufacturing of Earth observation cameras and small satellites; El Ranchito, an award-winning visual effects company servicing feature films and television productions; Semantic Systems, a global solutions company with a specific focus on 3D graphics in industrial configurations; and Ikerlan and Orbik, both deeply dedicated to industrial cybersecurity.

4 - 67 Awards and Recognitions Gathered in Festivals

Over the past year, DigiPen Europe-Bilbao students garnered 25 awards and recognitions in games, and 42 in our short films, making it a remarkable number through various national and international competitions. Additionally, 5 games were also present at different events. Showcasing the caliber of talent nurtured within our institution, these accolades reinforced our commitment to providing a curriculum that empowers students to excel in the competitive world of digital arts and game development.

Esteemed festivals like the Annecy Festival, the Rookie Awards, and the Cannes Film Festival all share in recognizing our student’s games and animations, but we also highlight and value the many accolades and awards received through various other institutions. We extend our gratitude to the organizers for their efforts in providing a platform for aspiring students.

The team’s picture at Annecy Festival 2023

5 - Student Events through DigiPen Guilds

In conjunction with DigiPen Europe-Bilbao, the student association DigiPen Guilds hosted a series of engaging events during the summer, offering a diverse range of activities for students and faculty to enjoy. Sport enthusiasts had their time in the limelight with the friendly yet competitive football and basketball tournament. The Global Game Jam brought together budding game developers for an intense and collaborative game creation experience, and the excitement continued when gaming skills took center stage with a Mario Kart tournament.

Aspiring DJs had the opportunity to fine-tune their skills in the DJ Masterclass, creating beats and setting the stage for musical exploration. The Murray Animation Awards celebrated the artistic achievements of students, recognizing their outstanding contributions in the world of animation. The Halloween contest and FX make-up workshop kicked off a spook-tacular season where participants showcased their creativity.

6 - New Game and Film Project Releases

At DigiPen, we prioritize educational understanding above the results of any project, but we still take pride in showcasing our students’ exciting games and animations. Among the freshman projects that recently debuted include Chau Piscau, a classic 2D tower defense game with an ocean theme; Subvault, a 2D multiplayer side-scrolling platformer base defender; and Triple S, a 2D top-down shooter that emphasizes collaboration and sci-fi co-op.

Sophomores had a productive year with three game projects developed from scratch in C++, namely Running Ever After, Anima Silvarum, and Virtual Mayhem. Additionally, two short films, Glimpse Into the Past and Witchy Crash, made their debut on the big screen, showcasing the potential of these aspiring creators.

Juniors faced a challenging task as they developed their 3D game engines to support their games. The projects included B.I.T.T.S., a 4-player team-based couch game; FPS: File Protection Software, a neon-themed first-person shoort; Re-Fense, a 3D strategy game; and Astrality, a bullet hell style rail shooter.

Seniors achieved notable success by releasing their games on Steam, attracting over one hundred reviews and thousands of players worldwide. The featured games include Anyu, a 3D third-person narrative Arctic exploration game; Cat-aclysm, a 3D isometric cat-astrophic action-adventure game; and Galactic Grinder, a fast-paced 2.5D side-scrolling skateboarding game.

Keep your eyes on our website as we release updates on student games and animations, including a look at an upcoming film with a trailer set to be released in January.

7 - Publishing Is Part of the Process

Now with over 1,000,000 downloads on Steam, DigiPen Europe-Bilbao has proudly released 18 student games on the online platform, including four new releases in 2023. DigiPen’s commitment to fostering innovation and providing valuable industry insights was reflected through the numerous reviews, playthroughs, and interactions on platforms like Twitch and YouTube. Explore the games on Steam, engage in community discussions, and don’t forget to share your own review.

A variety of cultures and backgrounds make up our community, and that’s why we’ve localized several our student games into 13 distinct languages. Translations include German, Simplified Chinese, Polish, and Russian, to name a few.

8 - New Summer Workshops

This past summer was buzzing in the halls of DigiPen Europe-Bilbao as we opened our doors to an array of exciting summer workshops! As the season unfolded, numerous eager students took part in these innovative courses. Art enthusiasts and tech-savvy video game lovers alike made an appearance to gain valuable insights in the fields of art, technology, and video games. These courses left a trail of inspired students and unforgettable experiences.

Young students creating 3D designs during the Summer Workshops from DigiPen Europe-Bilbao.

9 - Collaborations Abound

DigiPen Europe-Bilbao and Musikene joined forces to form a collaboration between students of both schools to work on interdisciplinary projects. On March 17, this collaboration came to life when it debuted four animated short films, including Conej Steps Out, Shades, Tardes de Verano, and HeartBits. These films have since earned acclaim at international festivals.

The Musikene collaboration went a step farther with a fifth film when the Auschwitz Birkenau Institute provided support for the animated film Glimpse Into the Past. Focusing on human rights and democratic culture by creating digital educational materials, this collaboration led to an a poignant 2D traditional animation short film that compellingly delves into the tragedy of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp during World War II.

10 - New Graduates and Alumni Success

Once a Dragon, always a Dragon. Dozens of recent graduates joined the ranks of the previous alumni and have gone on to work in prominent video game and film companies such as Playground Games, Super Evil Megacorp, Crytek, Tequila Works, IO Interactive, Ubisoft, UniKo. Graduates have also nurtured other industries, such as CAF, Vicomtech, Align Technilogies, Donostia International Physics Center, and more.

11 - Another Studying Abroad Experience

For several years running, Europe-Bilbao students have embraced a transformative educational journey through a one-year study program in the United States. This ongoing initiative underscores a dedicated commitment to global learning experiences, enabling students to fully immerse themselves in the cultural of the U.S. This sustained cross-cultural exchange not only expands their academic horizons but also nurtures a profound understanding of the global community, fostering the development of well-rounded and culturally aware students.

12 – DigiPen’s Global Achievements

With so much to celebrate at the DigiPen Europe-Bilbao campus, it’s understandable to miss some of the milestones achieved at DigiPen’s main campus in the United States. Whether it’s the first iteration of the DigiProm or the introduction of the Gamers Philanthropy Network focused on charitable initiatives, there’s plenty to reflect on for the Redmond campus in 2023. Awards were received throughout the year from organizations like the World of Warcraft Student Art Contest, the 2023 Game Narrative Review Competition, and the Rookie Awards, many of which recognized students for their excellence in their game and art projects.

Faculty also got to shine in the spotlight. Additional awards from IndieCade Horizons and the PAMLA 2023 Conference made headlines, but recognition of faculty expertise also came in the form of a former student winning an award for the Best Score Soundtrack for Video Games and Other Interactive Media at the GRAMMYs. Speaking of alumni, a variety of DigiPen graduates shared their stories of success through several blockbuster games, including Dead Space, Star Wars Jedi: Survivor, and Baldur’s Gate 3.

It’s clear DigiPen Europe-Bilbao is more than just an educational institution — it’s a thriving community of creativity, innovation, and success. The strides made in student development, collaborative work with external entities, global exposure, award recognition, and the ongoing success of our alumni collectively paint a picture of a dynamic institution that continues to evolve and set new standards in digital arts and game development education.

As 2023 comes to an end, we look forward to the future as DigiPen Europe-Bilbao remains dedicated to nurturing talent, fostering collaborations, and preparing students for a future in the digital entertainment industry. Happy New Year to the vibrant community at DigiPen Europe-Bilbao!