Where cul­tural un­der­stand­ing is val­ued as much as cod­ing prow­ess


Brunel Uni­ver­sity is cel­e­brat­ing its 50th an­niver­sary this year, but its long-stand­ing foun­da­tions don’t mean it isn’t at the cut­ting edge of videogame ed­u­ca­tion. It of­fers a range of videogame-fo­cused cour­ses, and here Dig­i­tal Games The­ory & De­sign MA pro­gramme di­rec­tor and lec­turer

Dr Kelly Boudreau sets out Brunel’s ap­proach to game ed­u­ca­tion. What makes Brunel stand out from other in­sti­tu­tions? There are two things I think make Brunel stand out. Our pro­gramme is one of the few in the UK that of­fers creative, tech­ni­cal and the­o­ret­i­cal com­po­nents that were de­signed as one co­he­sive whole. Stu­dents come away from their de­gree hav­ing a firm grasp on the skillset re­quired to make creative and in­no­va­tive games, as well as a deeper un­der­stand­ing of the the­o­ret­i­cal and cul­tural as­pects of games, and un­der­stand games as part of our larger cul­ture. Also, our course is taught by a team who all have var­i­ous ranges of in­dus­try ex­pe­ri­ence. Un­der­stand­ing how the in­dus­try works and be­ing ac­tively en­gaged in it gives our stu­dents con­fi­dence that what they’re be­ing taught will serve them well as they work to­wards their ca­reers in games. How do those in­dus­try links in­flu­ence the course? Our course was de­signed with the un­der­stand­ing that the in­dus­try changes at an ac­cel­er­ated pace, so stu­dents are taught the fun­da­men­tals of game de­sign in­formed – but not led by – cur­rent trends. And this year we’ve re­designed the un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gramme and in­tro­duced three new path­ways in Game De­sign with a more con­cen­trated fo­cus on art, the­ory and tech­nol­ogy. How do you go about choos­ing the tools to fo­cus on? We be­lieve in teach­ing our stu­dents a skillset and a way of think­ing about game de­sign, which means they can ad­just to any toolset that be­comes avail­able over the course of their ca­reer. How about fos­ter­ing col­lab­o­ra­tion skills be­tween stu­dents? Our an­nual in­take is capped so we have a strong co­hort each year, which al­lows space for stu­dents to get to know each other much more eas­ily than on large cour­ses with hun­dreds of stu­dents. Our labs are open 24/7 and they’re al­ways filled with stu­dents ei­ther work­ing on or play­ing games to­gether. Our stu­dents par­tic­i­pate in game jams, we host board game evenings and other ac­tiv­i­ties, in which the lec­tur­ers also take part, and we’ve even set up a game de­sign team to run this year’s char­ity Colour Run. These so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties cou­pled with the team work de­signed into many of the mod­ules have helped cul­ti­vate a cul­ture of col­lab­o­ra­tion here at Brunel. What can grad­u­ates ex­pect to take away with them? They learn not only how to make games, but also how to think about the process in an in­formed and crit­i­cal way from a team who are pas­sion­ate about mak­ing and study­ing games – they gain an aware­ness of games as cul­tural ob­jects that of­fer play­ers a huge range of ex­pe­ri­ences. Our grad­u­ates gain a skillset that pre­pares them not only for the prac­ti­cal world of game de­sign and the game in­dus­try, but they’re also equipped with trans­fer­able skills that can help them ex­cel in any­thing they choose to do.

“St u dent s g ai n an aware­ness of g ames as cu l t u r al o bj ec t s ”

The Brunel Uni­ver­sity team that won UKIE’s 2016 Stu­dent Game Jam, its big­gest yet, with LostInBa­bel

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