Gaming institute MassDigi moving from Becker College to WPI video games

WORCESTER – MassDigi, a gaming institute located at the closing Becker College, will stay in the city thanks to a new deal to move to Worcester Polytechnic Institute, officials at both schools announced Monday.

The program will likely move into WPI’s Foisie Innovation Studio sometime during the summer, after Becker finishes its final semester.

WPI president Laurie Leshin called the arrangement a “perfect match,” given MassDigi’s history with WPI and the institutions’ overlapping specialties.

“Our partnership will build upon ties that go back to the founding of MassDigi,” 10 years ago, she said.

Started at Becker College, where it occupies the Worcester campus’ Colleen C. Barrett Center, MassDigi provides educational programming to students, particularly through its summer game design program, networks with the gaming industry, and has launched dozens of video games created by staff and students at the institute.

Timothy Loew, MassDigi’s founder and current executive director, who will be moving to WPI along with the program, credited Becker for supporting the center from its beginning.

“If it weren’t for Becker College, we certainly wouldn’t be where we are today,” he said. “We’ve been able to experiment, try things, and in some cases fail, and then move on and try new things.”

Some officials who spoke at Monday’s announcement lamented the college’s closure, which Becker leadership announced last month after disclosing the school’s financial hardships earlier this year.

“It’s a little bittersweet to be here,” said U.S. Rep. James P. McGovern, who told the Becker representatives at the event to “feel proud of what you’ve accomplished, not just with MassDigi … people will never forget this institution.”

State and local officials were encouraged by MassDigi’s remaining in Worcester and Massachusetts in general, given the projected continued growth of the video game industry.

“There were a lot of suitors,” for the program, Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito said. “It wasn’t an easy competition (for WPI) to win.”

The state, meanwhile, which on Monday announced it is providing a $100,000 grant to the institute to support its educational programs, will continue to “use MassDigi as one of the key assets to attract the talent we need and want to see,” she said.

Among the products of the center, for example, is Petricore Games, a Worcester-based gaming company that founder and CEO Ryan Canuel said “would not exist if it weren’t for MassDigi,” which he attended as a student 10 years ago.

The institute also works closely with many other colleges around the state including Clark University in Worcester.

“The future of MassDigi, I think, looks extremely bright,” Leshin  said. “I see us working together for many years to come.”

Scott O’Connell can be reached at Scott.O’Connell@telegram.com. Follow him on Twitter @ScottOConnellTG

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