Matt DiGianfilippo

By Zoë Eitel
Matt DiGianfilippo has always known he wanted to be in a creative field, and after getting his undergraduate degree in studio art, he found himself focusing on web development. As someone who loves video games and dreamed about working in the industry since he was a kid, Matt started exploring DePaul’s Game Programming degree.
When Matt was looking for universities for his graduate degree, there were multiple things about DePaul that appealed to him. Matt was drawn not just by the location of DePaul and the convenience of living in the city, but also DePaul’s Game Programming reputation.
“On the academic side, DePaul is one of the top programs for Game Programming in the country,” he says. “One thing that set DePaul apart from others is that they offered two different paths towards gaming, programming, and design, which allowed for a deeper focus of study in the path taken.”
Matt has since graduated and gotten a job as a Game Programmer at Naughty Dog. Matt works with different teams to develop and support gameplay systems to make the best experience for the players.

Game Programmer at Naughty Dog

MS Game Programming 2020

“I grew up playing games on the original PlayStation and so Naughty Dog has always been a company that comes to mind for me when I think of the best in the industry,” he says.
It’s very important to Matt that he is able to continue to learn in his career and continue expanding his knowledge of his field, and Naughty Dog is great for that. Matt likes that the company is open about their experiences and knowledge, sharing their expertise with others in order to help push the industry forward, rather than keeping developments a secret.

“My favorite part of the tutor experience was seeing some of the students that came to me when I first started seeing them and how much they grew after a year of being in the program. It was great to see the questions they ask develop and change with the knowledge they gained.”

It’s not uncommon for Matt to learn something new every day at work since there are so many people in different disciplines who he works with. DePaul’s Game Programming classes were similar in this way. They are geared toward preparing students by teaching them the fundamentals needed to succeed in the many different disciplines in the field that are constantly evolving.
While he was at DePaul, Matt worked as a tutor in the College of Computing and Digital Media, and he took that as an opportunity to give back to the department and help out the professors. He didn’t anticipate how much he’d learn from the experience.
“It forced me to truly understand topics I may have not fully understood so that I could explain them to others,” Matt says. “Being a tutor meant explaining the topics in a variety of ways as everyone has their own unique backgrounds and it was important to tailor the explanation to these backgrounds.”
Matt really enjoyed helping students early in the program and then seeing how much they’d grown by the end of just year one. He is still in contact with some of the other tutors he worked with.
The relationship formed between the students and professors within the program was part of what made the experience special for Matt. He enjoyed that they were all able to push each other to be better quarter after quarter.
“Programming is about problem solving and so it was rare to not see me at a whiteboard drawing and diagramming out the problems,” he says. “We would talk it out and brainstorm solutions; sometimes you just need a rubber duck to bounce ideas off of to get to the solution.”
As someone who grew up playing games and was inspired by those games, Matt wants to be an inspiration for the next generation of game designers.
“My goal has been to work on games I love that will hopefully inspire another generation to get into this field like these games did for me,” he says.