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Meet Our Prodigies: Steve Bergen

Prodigy Careers Blog

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  • Prodigy Culture
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Meet Steve Bergen - Director, Product, English Game. Steve joined Prodigy in 2012 and was actually the first full-time hire made by our Co-Founders and Co-CEOs Alex and Rohan! Want to join Steve at Prodigy? Check out our open positions here!

Hey Steve - how did your career at Prodigy begin?

My background is engineering. I went to Brock University for Computer Science and then took my Masters in AI. While I was looking for my first job, Alex and Rohan came to Brock to seek potential co-op opportunities, as well as promote a full-time role to work on the AI elements of the game. A friend encouraged me to apply to the role as well as another at a local website company, and shortly I had two interviews lined up. I met with Alex and Rohan—we didn’t even have an office at that point—and the interview was just fantastic. So on the way home I canceled the other interview because I knew this is where I wanted to be.

What sold Prodigy to you?

When I realized the game was an RPG! I’m a massive gamer, but the negatives of the gaming industry always intimidated me. However, the educational side of our RPG reflected the company’s altruistic goals and made the company feel more inviting. It was also the fact I could stay local and work on artificial intelligence, which was a niche area at the time. It was a really great fit.

Did you think you'd still be here 13 years later?

No! I wasn’t sure if we’d succeed in all honesty! How far we have come is just insane. It’s one of the biggest parts of why I love the job. And the reason we succeed is because kids love to play us. We’re an educational game, but they actually want to use it inside and outside of the classroom. Our users—especially our students—are so important. In the early stages we were releasing updates weekly. We would get feedback, iterate, and release. And that’s how we grew. How far we have come is insane, I never really foresaw it. I think that’s why I love the job.

What makes working at Prodigy special?

It’s the users. The kids really care about this game. Being a gamer, I know that gaming culture can be a toxic community. But there’s something about the honesty of our players (kids) which makes them so endearing. They really care about this product. An adult gamer might turn on a company for making a mistake, but ours really care and stick with us while we try new things. All the stories they share in the online community, the polls and fan-art—it really makes it fun and rewarding to create something for kids, and would be something I’d want to continue to do even if I wasn’t at Prodigy.

What are you most excited about for the future?

The biggest thing is how we expand into multiple subjects. Prodigy thrives best when we do things that no one has done before. No one had made an educational online game that was truly fun before us. The fact the kids - millions of them - ask to play a game that teaches is novel. We’re really leaning into making our games as fun as possible. If we can apply that same concept across subjects beyond math, we can change how people look at how they learn overall.

What advice would you give to someone considering joining Prodigy?

Prodigy is a demanding place to work. But for anyone who wants to expand their horizons and skillsets quickly, Prodigy is a great place to do it. I started as an engineer and got where I am today by saying "yes" to a lot of things, taking on new challenges and growing myself as the company grew. There are no dead ends, and there’s so much you can learn and so many opportunities to grow. As long as you’re willing to recognize and take those opportunities, you can really shine here.

Interested in joining Steve at Prodigy? Check out our open positions!