Accounting For Everything

The bonding experiences at GU build great friendships. You live together, study together, party together, go to basketball games together—that’s the Gonzaga experience and it’s all pretty special.”

Multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) video games can be traced back to the late 1980s—right around the time when Ben Page (’87) was graduating from Gonzaga University with his degree in business.

“My idea of ‘gaming’ in high school was a trip to the arcade or bowling alley to play Asteroids or Mario Bros, and relatives had a Pong console in the mid-70s!” Page recalled. Since then, he has played a little bit of everything—PC and console games with his nieces and nephews, but still wouldn’t call himself a true “gamer” (though he did recently purchase an Xbox One and has been involved a little bit in the beta testing of his latest project.) So, how did this Gonzaga alum become part of the next Gigantic thing in gaming?

Flash back to 1983—Page had graduated from Walla Walla High School and was just getting started at Gonzaga. He was living in Catherine/Monica and planned to major in economics. He thought economics would give him a good overview of how business works at a macro level, but soon discovered his passion was in accounting. He had taken accounting in high school and enjoyed it, so changing his major to accounting with a management minor was a natural fit. Leadership also came naturally to Page, who exercised his talents in student government and as an RA.

“I was a senator at one point,” he recalled, “and then treasurer and vice president of finance. I was an RA in Madonna my junior year, and in Cushing and Desmet my senior year.” If that weren’t enough to keep Page busy, he also played the tuba in Gonzaga’s symphonic and pep bands.

Page was one of the first recipients of the Jepson Family Scholarship. The University broke ground on the Jepson Center during his senior year. Being part of the School of Business during this time of growth was very meaningful to Page, who remembers his experience well.

“At that time, Bud Barnes and others were developing the program into what it has become now,” he said. “I got to have Dan Brajcich as a professor during one of his last years teaching. He helped produce exceptional students and inspire dedicated faculty, which was impressive for such a small business program. You don’t think of passion as something that goes along with debits and credits, but he was able to do that.” In addition to the passion for accounting and business that Brajcich and Barnes brought to the classroom, Page greatly appreciated the level of involvement they maintained in his life—even after graduation.

Page went on from GU to work as a certified public accountant at Ernst & Young and after earning a law degree from Seattle University in 1996, worked for companies of all sizes—from Adobe and Oracle to smaller startup and early stage companies. He found himself drawn to tech companies in the late nineties, which took him to the San Francisco Bay area during the dot com boom and bust. He put in long hours at demanding jobs, but managed to find time to reconnect with some of his Gonzaga friends at that time as well.

“I remember Father Coughlin visiting me when I was living down there,” Page recalled fondly. “We caught up with one another near the marina district.”

After a couple of years serving as the senior director of finance at the University of Washington, Page felt drawn back to the tech industry, which landed him in Bellevue, Wash., at the independent online PC game studio, Motiga, Inc. As vice president of finance, he plays a role alongside the developers and creative teams who have poured themselves into the creation of a MOBA game for PC and Xbox One called Gigantic.

“In the game, you team up with four others and battle another team of five,” Page explained. “You have a massive guardian with different powers, and so does the other team—they end up battling at the end. What’s unique about this game is that each character has different powers, so teams have to work collaboratively and strategically to leverage each character’s ability.”

The game has been reviewed as “phenomenal,” “bright, quick and very obviously prepared to be a very scale-friendly enterprise,” by Chris Burns of Slash Gear, which echoes the way Page described Gigantic.  His excitement for the game was audible when he talked about Gigantic being a truly artistic, unique new flavor in the multiplayer online gaming world. He described invisibility, teleportation, weaponry and healing powers like he was as seasoned gamer.

In addition to his passion for his work, Page shares a passion for giving back to the community that provided him with the opportunities that he has so enjoyed throughout his career.

“A great education and the Jesuit philosophy of educating the whole person while giving back to the community has always been meaningful to me,” he said. “Supporting the University’s mission is so important. We all give back in our own way, whether it be volunteering or giving—Gonzaga instilled that within me, and I think that’s what being a GU alum is all about.”

Page believes that it was the whole-person education he received from Gonzaga that prepared him to view the world from a holistic perspective. He recognizes that ways in which GU has helped students to better engage with different parts of the world over the years and feels that it is an opportunity more people deserve. In his various roles with tech companies he has had the opportunity to travel to and work with people from many different countries.

“It’s beneficial for students to be exposed to different cultures,” he explained. “There are smart, talented, passionate people all over the world—it’s not just an American thing. The internet, tech and media have changed the way we communicate globally and Universities need to be more globally engaged so students can navigate differences in language, culture, customs and time with open and adaptive minds.”

(Pictured above: Gonzaga friends Kathryn (’88) and Dale (’88) Elmenhurst, Lois Ballard (’87), Chris Young (’88), Claire (’87) and John Dempsey (’87), Theresa Schneider Clark (’87), Kelly Heaphy Rosa (’88) and Paul Rosa (’86), Mark Taylor (’88), Kathleen Gardipee (’87), Tom Goldsmith (’88), Catherine Rosa Mirkin (’87), Natalie Ornellas Castro (’87), Ben Page (’87), Joe Rowland (’86), Lisa (’87) and Adam (’86) Foltz, Bryan Adamson (Miami of Ohio ’85), Alonso Dominguez (’86), Linda Grovner (’86), Joe Herzog (’87), and Mark Sole (’89) joined Page and Bryan Adamson, a law professor at Seattle University, for their wedding.)