Game Changer Files: Brian DeSanti ’08 ’09MS, Senior Director of Product Management at Blizzard
September 15, 2023
1. Status: Where are you currently working and what projects are you currently working on (if you can share)?
BDS: I am currently working at Blizzard Entertainment as the Senior Director of Product Management for World of Warcraft (WoW). I manage WoW’s Product Managers and we work on Dragonflight, the latest expansion for World of Warcraft, WoW Classic including the recently released Hardcore mode, and a few things that we haven’t announced to our players just yet.
2. Noob: Tell us what you did before your time at FIEA. What inspired you to attend FIEA?
BDS: I was a Digital Media major at UCF prior to attending FIEA. During my last year of undergrad, I was also a Game Designer at the Institute for Simulation & Training. I worked with a small team that had built out a card game for the military and developed a middle school quiz game that was played through your cell phone. Both projects gave me a taste of what it was like to work on video games, but then FIEA really kicked that experience into overdrive.
My inspiration for pursuing game development came from when I was much younger. I remember seeing the credits roll after completing the campaign in Warcraft II; seeing all those names scroll by made me realize that this is what I wanted to do. I had no idea where to begin and it wasn’t until many years later during my second year of college at UF that a counselor told me about the new masters program called FIEA out of UCF. That next year, I transferred to UCF to finish my undergraduate degree with my sights set on getting into FIEA!
3. PvE: How did FIEA prepare you for the industry?
BDS: FIEA truly prepared me in every way possible for the games industry. I can’t overstate just how well FIEA replicated the development experience. The capstone project was a real taste of what game development was like from the cross-discipline collaboration to the pressures of hitting milestone dates. My capstone project was even killed partway through, so I found myself needing to integrate into a team that just days prior was seen as competition.
I was told that the capstone experience was just like real game development, but it wasn’t until I was in the industry that I truly understood just how authentic it was. Beyond that, I’ve come to realize that I got value out of every single class that was taught, not just the capstone. Classes that focused on things like rapid prototyping, documentation, and design presentation have helped me in every step of my career.
“FIEA truly prepared me in every way possible for the games industry. I can’t overstate just how well FIEA replicated the development experience.”
Brian DeSanti ’09MS, FIEA alumnus from Cohort 5, in front of the Bridge (CMB 127) just before his guest speaking event at FIEA.
4. PvP: Please share any advice you have for current FIEAns as they enter the game development industry.
BDS: I have two pieces of advice for FIEAns about to enter their first job in the industry:
1. Be humble; Listen & learn: FIEA does a great job of preparing students for game development, but your learning doesn’t stop when you leave FIEA. When you first enter the industry be a sponge. Learn from those around you, understand why things are the way they are, and then apply your knowledge and experience. If you’re too eager to jump in and show what you know it can come off as cocky or even dismissive of the experience of your peers.
2. Prioritize building relationships: As a game developer you’ll find that there’s always work to do, but game development is a collaborative experience. Make sure that you’re carving out time to connect with those that you’re working with so you can build strong work relationships. In my experience, this is just as important as doing quality work.
5. AFK: Do you have any recent, interesting personal successes, new hobbies, family updates or activities you would like to share?
BDS: My wife and I recently got a Shih Tzu puppy who’s one and a half years old. Named after the small toothy monster from Jim Henson’s The Dark Crystal, Fizzgig lives up to his name every day. He and our older dog, Cola, love and hate each other in the way only siblings can.
As far as hobbies are concerned, it’s probably no surprise that I’m a big gamer. I’m pretty much always playing World of Warcraft and Hearthstone, but these days I’m also playing Warcraft Rumble, Sea of Stars, and Wayfinder. I’m also a big fan of card games so I was eagerly awaiting the launch of Disney Lorcana, which I now actively play.
Lastly, a success worth highlighting is my new job at Blizzard. I’m a huge Blizzard fan and World of Warcraft is my favorite game. It’s a childhood dream come true to join the leadership team of a game that I’ve played for nearly 20 years.