Maine teen earns $98K college scholarship for video game design
Daniel Brower is finishing what his great-grandfather started by attending WPI
CARMEL, Maine (WABI) - For some kids, video games can be a distraction from school. But for one teenager in Carmel, a gaming hobby turned into his ticket to college.
Daniel Brower played his first video game with his father when he was just three years old. It wasn’t long before he knew he wanted to make it a career.
“It was really probably when I was in the fourth or fifth grade when I played this one game that was all about making games,” Daniel said. “It just inspired me. I was like, ‘I want to do this.’”
“I often heard, you know, ‘You shouldn’t let him sit in front of the computer!’” Melodie Brower said. “But, I always felt like he was learning, and he was doing good things. We definitely kept an eye on what he was doing online. No violent video games or anything like that, but he was always just learning.”
Daniel set his dream in motion. He attended the Maine School of Science in Mathematics in Limestone, where he took his first video game design class. He likens MSSM to an early college experience, as he was able to pick many of his own classes and live in a dorm.
When it came to college, Daniel had one choice: Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. That’s the only school he applied to, and when decision time rolled around, the nerves kicked in.
“I [was] freaking out all day because acceptance letters [were] coming out at 5:00 p.m. online,” Daniel said. “I opened it. I was like, ‘Yes!’ My sleeping bother woke up on the couch and I went over and picked him up, and he started screaming in fear. But it was funny.”
Despite the scream, Daniel’s brothers Logan and Henry are very proud. So are his parents.
“Daniel got the acceptance letter, and he read it, and he said, ‘I got in!’” Melodie said. “And I looked at it, and I kept reading, and it said, ‘You’ve been accepted with $98,000.’ That part was really exciting. He hadn’t even noticed. He just saw he got in, but the mom in me was thinking, ‘Oh good, this will help!’”
WPI started one of the earliest gaming programs in the nation, and according to The Princeton Review, one of the best.
It has something else: a special connection to Daniel’s family.
“My great-grandfather, he applied to WPI and actually got in,” Daniel said. “It was his dream school, also. I don’t believe it was for game design back then, but before he could attend, in the summer, he was drafted into the Army for World War II. He ended up in so many battlefields. He came home, but he wasn’t able to attend WPI because the war got in the way.”
Frank Gadomski, his great-grandfather, passed away last July, a few months shy of Daniel’s acceptance. Still, Ben Brower, Frank’s grandson and Daniel’s dad, knows it would’ve meant a lot to him.
“He wouldn’t let anyone know, but he’d be super proud,” Ben Brower said. “He was super proud of all of his family, but he was kind of a quiet type, stoic grandfather, you know? He loved us all, and he would’ve been super excited for Daniel.”
Daniel says he’s excited to have the opportunity to live out both his great-grandfather’s dream, and his own.
“Really, the dream is just to start my own video game design company. The dream is to be an indie developer. Be the next Markus Persson, the next Derek Yu.”
And the first Daniel Brower.
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