John Pile Jr.

John works on amazing game-related technology as a Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft.

MSc Computer Games Technology, 2008

Describe your current role?

Before graduation, I had a student job at the Dundee based game studio, Proper Games. After graduation, I was taken on full-time with the team and helped ship our 2009 BAFTA Game of the Year, Flock! We also shipped an iOS game called Moving Day and the console titles: Capcom’s Final Fight: Double Impact, and the Toy Box DLC for Crackdown 2. In 2010, I moved to Vermont and ran the Game Programming BSc degree program
at Champlain College for four years.

During this time, I also published the game development textbook, 2D Graphics Programming for Games. I eventually wanted to get back into development and moved to Seattle where I joined the AtomJack game studio and worked on a title for Activision. A year later, I was hired by Microsoft to work on a project for the HoloLens. Earlier this year we launched our Mixed Reality experience, Actiongram. I’m a Senior Software Engineer at Microsoft working on another awesome Mixed Reality project. We work with game technology and V1 hardware. That means early adoption of internal software still in development, very little documentation, and a host of exciting challenges that come with working in that environment. Richard Garriot’s Ultima IV was the game that most influenced me and made me want to make my own games. It seems somewhat fitting that as a young child, playing Ultima IV in North Pole, Alaska, that the Ultima IV’s spiritual centre was a village named Skara Brae ... a significance I didn’t understand until I was a student pursuing a game development education in Scotland, 20 years later.

The University brought me to Scotland, which now feels like my ‘home away from home’ whenever I visit.
John Pile Jr. | Microsoft | Senior Software Engineer

What is your lasting impression of Abertay?

Abertay launched my career. Not only did I get a great education, but it was during an Abertay presentation by Proper Games that I made my first game-industry connection. I made great friends at Abertay and many of my industry colleagues were graduates too. The University brought me to Scotland, which now feels like my ‘home away from home’ whenever I visit. The faculty is willing to adapt to the constantly changing industry. They listen to the needs of their current students. Events like Dare keep the graduates active and involved, especially those that settle in Dundee and the strength of the game industry in Dundee helps keep the cycle going. I spent seven years after my undergraduate degree in mathematics working in a non-game programming job before I learned of Abertay and the opportunities to get further education in game development.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

My only regret is that I didn’t know about Abertay when the programme first started. So if I could go back, I would tell my younger self about Abertay sooner. As long as I’m constantly learning new things and working on fun projects I’m happy. Way down the road I may go back to teaching or start my own game studio. At the moment, I love working at Microsoft because I get to work on some amazing game-related technology.

 

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