BRUNEL UNIVERSITY LONDON
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