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The story behind how UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy grew into an industry game changer (by Jenna Marina Lee)

Ahead of the Game

The story behind how UCF’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy grew into an industry game changer.

Fall 2021 By Jenna Marina Lee

In 2006, Matt Laurence ’07MS was fresh out of college with a psychology degree pondering his next move when he got an email from his mother that changed his career trajectory.

A lifelong fan of video games — but admittedly not a natural at computer programming or art — Laurence had given up hope of pursuing his true passion of a career in the gaming industry. And then his mother’s forwarded email about a new graduate program in Orlando called the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA) mentioned a third track outside of programming and art: production.

“I thought, ‘I can do this!’ It changed the whole course of my life,” says Laurence, who since graduating has helped produce mobile games, including the Angry Birds series, and now serves as the engagement director at Embark Studios in Stockholm. “I got a job before I even graduated. All the cool things I’ve gotten to do are because of this career, and the only reason I have this career is because of FIEA.”

What started out as 12 trailblazing students in a building still under construction has blossomed into the anchor of the Creative Village in downtown Orlando. FIEA now has over 800 graduates hired by over 300 companies globally and is known as the top graduate game design program in the world.

More than that, FIEA has delivered on a promise it made from the start: to develop a pipeline of talent to fuel Florida’s economy into the 21st century and beyond.


https://www.ucf.edu/pegasus/ahead-of-the-game/


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