More than 3 billion people are estimated to be active video game players, with the worldwide gaming market projected to be $347 billion. Behind the largest entertainment industry in the world are creators like Blake Battle ’12MS, who is an accomplished producer at Bungie, which has developed popular games like Destiny and Halo.

A UCF interactive entertainment alum, Battle grew his gaming hobby into a career through his training at the university’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy (FIEA). FIEA provides an authentic and unparalleled video game development experience that helped Battle hit the ground running. While a student, he interned at EA Sports and seamlessly transitioned into a full-time employee with the gaming company upon graduation — showcasing the value of FIEA’s plug-and-play approach.

As a leader, strategist, and customer, Battle is always looking at the next level of gaming, which he says is currently service gaming. Service games forgo upfront costs and instead rely on in-game monetization to benefit both player and developer.

“Games as a service is a return to form,” Battle says.

As Battle works to innovate Bungie’s offerings — which focus on creating games that inspire friendship —  he reflects on his time with the first game development community he joined: FIEA.

What inspired you to pursue a career making video games and to attend FIEA?
Before FIEA, I was a legal assistant studying for the LSAT exam to become a lawyer. Before that, I was a recent college graduate trying to find his way in the business world. I quickly learned after college that neither of those things made me happy, and I needed to pursue a field I was passionate about. Video games had been the one unquestionable object of passion in my life. I found FIEA via a Google search for “Best Video Game Grad School”, (and) found it in a Princeton Review list. The cohort-based program seemed like the best fit for me.

*Editor’s note: In March, FIEA ranked in the top two for graduate game design programs across the world for the fourth consecutive year, according to The Princeton Review and PC Gamer.

How did FIEA prepare you for the industry?
FIEA provides an authentic video game development experience that is almost impossible to replicate in another setting; More than 60 student developers across all disciplines there to build games with you. This is the work. I had zero game development knowledge before FIEA, and the functional skills and experience I gained allowed me to hit the ground running in an internship while still in the program. This quickly transitioned into a full-time position upon graduation. FIEA allowed me to be truly plug-and-play in the industry.

What advice do you have for current FIEA students as they enter the game development industry?
Don’t undermine the experience you have at FIEA when you are applying to jobs. Even though FIEA is not a literal game studio, the experience you have there building a game with peers is extremely highly quality and comparable to what you would experience in the industry.

With that, don’t be afraid to identify yourself as the role you want to be in the industry based on what you did at FIEA. I am not talking about “you were a project lead at FIEA, so you are ready to be an EP in the industry, or a creative director.” But, you want to be a gameplay designer and you did gameplay design at FIEA? Guess what, you’re a gameplay designer now, not an aspiring one.