FIEA nabs top spot – again – in video game school rankings

You would be hard-pressed to find a AAA video game that graduates of the Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, or FIEA, have not worked on.

Spider Man 2.

All of the Maddens.

Diablo IV.

Last of Us.

The list goes on and on.

A new accolade announced this week gives an idea of why that is.

UCF’s graduate game design program has been named the top school of its kind in the world by Princeton Review and PC Gamer. It is the fourth time in five years that the 20-year-old program has nabbed the top spot.

Another Orlando school, Full Sail University, landed at No. 17 on the list.

The Madden series has been built in Orlando since the 1990s – with FIEA graduates contributing tremenously.

FIEA “has been good four our community,” said Benjamin Noel, FIEA’s executive director since its inception, in a press release. “We are positioned for the brightest game development future of any global media hub.”

The creation of FIEA came at a time when gaming was on the cusp of major growth in 2004.

“We envisioned an environment where students, faculty and industry practitioners explored, learned and developed the world’s best video games,” Noel said.

The program has become a source for talent of Electronic Arts’ Orlando operation, which handles the bulk of development on popular titles like the Madden series.

“We have been fortunate to benefit from that thriving talent pipeline since the program’s inception,” said Daryl Holt, EA’s senior vice president and group general manager, Tiburon Studios & American Football, in the release.

FIEA has graduated 1,000 students since its first classes in 2006. The graduates have been hired by major studios like Electronic Arts, Activision Blizzard, Iron Galaxy, Microsoft, Universal and others.

“We’re pleased that The Princeton Review and PC Gamer recognize our exceptional faculty and how our talented graduates thrive as innovators and leaders, often right here in Central Florida, home to many of the nation’s leading gaming, film and animation companies,” said Michael D. Johnson, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs.