To Code or Not To Code? That Was the Question Keegan Cimler Asked Himself: Whether to Pursue Programming or Performing?
At first, it might seem that Keegan Cimler’s twin passions – programming and performing as an actor and singer – are so far apart as to be completely unrelated.
But in Keegan’s experience, the two skills – one intensely private and the other relying on public reaction – combine easily in the world of interactive entertainment and made FIEA a natural fit for him. Of course, it took him a while to see how those two halves could be unified into a career. After all, how many programmers also have trained as actors in the classical Shakespearean style?
As a kid, Keegan developed an interest in computer games and then delved deeper into multiplayer games, such as “League of Legends.” As he did, he began to see those games as platforms for building and strengthening friendships. “Games bridge the gaps between people, and I think this is a point that gets overlooked a lot,” Keegan said. “They form friendships and relationships now, especially with the emergence of online gaming.”
“I have to admit that I’m a little nervous to start…and with the very accelerated track FIEA has in place, it just means that this entire experience is going to be intense.”
Intrigued by the programming behind those “bridges,” Keegan majored in software engineering at Loyola University in Chicago. At the same time, he honed his acting skills by performing in high school, college and as a professional with the Milwaukee Repertory Theater community theater, where he played young Scrooge in “A Christmas Carol.” He even minored in theater in college and trained in Shakespearean voice and stage movement.
Shakespeare and software. Programming and performing. While the combinations made sense to Keegan, there was no established career path for someone like him. And he wasn’t sure if he wanted to take that deep dive into coding. But as he recalled the games he loved and the thrill of relating to an audience, Keegan realized he did want to create games that challenge and connect people. With his acting background, he figured he would know how to breathe life into the digital characters – if he could write code as naturally as he could write scenes.
That’s why he chose FIEA, which offers a focused programming track. “The only thing that motivated me to code were the projects that were related to making a game!” Keegan said. “I realized that if I was going to become a programmer, I wanted to work within the gaming industry, so I can work toward an end product that I will be passionate about.”
While touring the FIEA facilities as an applicant, Keegan was wowed by “one of the largest motion capture studios in the industry and an audio recording room where I could use my acting and theater background in the gaming industry. …That would be a blast.”
In some ways, it’s like taking on a new role. “I have to admit that I’m a little nervous to start…and with the very accelerated track FIEA has in place, it just means that this entire experience is going to be intense. But I know that if I can come out on the other end, I know that FIEA will prepare me for everything that is waiting for me on the other side.”