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Game On!

Thursday, May 29, 2008

by Donna Parker

Jeff Strain, a 1991 graduate who earned a degree in computer science, first got his game on in 1996, when he joined Blizzard Entertainment as a programmer on StarCraft. In 1999 he started a new team to develop the MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Roleplaying Game) World of Warcraft. This game master's hard work paid off, since WoW, as it's called in gaming circles, now boasts 10 million users.

Jeff decided to maximize his window of opportunity by co-founding ArenaNet with three colleagues. He serves as president of the state-of-the-art interactive game company developing premium online games.

"When my partners and I left Blizzard Entertainment in 2000, we were the classic 'three guys working out of a garage'," jokes Jeff.

Scroll up eight years.

"We just sold five million copies of our own online role playing game, Guild Wars, so it's more than invigorating to come to work every day," says Jeff.

Life is not just a hard drive for Jeff who is married to his hometown girlfriend, Annie Delisi, whom he has known since the 4th grade. Together, they have three children; Madeleine, 10; Daniel, 8; and Jackson, 10 months.

"I have a feeling at the end of the day that I have done fun things. I feel personally fulfilled and happy to abandon work on occasion and spend time with my family. Kids change your life and, although there was trepidation about having a third child, Jackson is mellow, peaceful, and fits right in. It's an unqualified joy to have him in our lives."

In case you're wondering whether this computer game programmer exercises parental game time in his own home...

"The kids can play for a short time on weekends, but there are no electronics during the school week!"

Jeff, who spent most of his own school time slaving over a hot computer, laughingly says his roommate Dan Hansen '91 had him pegged way back when.

"Dan perpetually teased me about working on my computer projects during all four years at Trinity. He always predicted that one day I'd be making games for a living. He'd probably say now, 'told you so!'

"Trinity was an invaluable experience for me. My personal mentor was my thesis adviser, Maurice Eggen, department of computer science. There's no person other than my father who had such a professional and personal influence in my life. He was a structured scientific thinker, but had a laid back, easy nature."

"That's the kind of person I still strive to be."

Jeff's power surge in the computer industry is remarkable, but he's happy to share the glory with his hard-working team.

"To build anything of true value, you have to be surrounded by smart, capable people. Embracing that took a certain amount of wisdom that I had to accrue through the years."

"Establishing my own company and seeing it grow into something is very fulfilling. I'm proud of what we've done here with 150 employees who enjoy their jobs, are able to support their families, and make a good living. We all feel a sense of excitement about what we do."

You may e-mail Jeff at jeff [at]