Ilya grew up in the late Soviet Union playing chess at the People’s Palace of Pioneers and bootleg cassette-tape-loaded River Raid on a TRS-80 clone. After emigrating to the US with his family in 1992, he got an English Literature BA at Yale, spent a few years making a living from online poker, and worked as a junior web developer before going back to grad school for an MFA in Game Design at NYU. After grad school, he spent several years teaching game design and development at universities in and around New York. His independent (game) design work during this period received awards and recognition from IndieCade, Sony, and Ford. About a year into a dream academic job as a tenure-track director of a nascent graduate game design program he realized that he missed coding too much, left academia, and went back to programming full-time.

Written by Valeria

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