Brunel Uni prepares students for game industry jobs: “Play around with what a game can be”

As reasons to choose a university go, Brunel’s claim that their game design tutors are “very good looking” has to be the boldest – and most intriguing – we’ve seen. And it’s not one we’d care to dispute, though you can judge for yourself by scanning the photos below.

In fairness, the academics at Brunel don’t make this aesthetic boast central to their pitch for drawing students to their campus just outside London. And they can afford a little tongue-in-cheek vanity, given their other lures to those hungry for a strong degree and a game industry job.

They’ve got Lionhead co-founder Steve Jackson on staff, for one thing. Guest speakers on the university’s suite of joint honours games courses, postgraduate degrees and their new Game Design BA (Hons) include Jackson’s old partners Ian Livingstone and Peter Molyneux.

Their employability record looks impressive too – their site claims 60% of MA graduates are in the games industry or graduate roles. Alumni include Dominique Starr, who was in the team which scooped a BAFTA for work on Shogun: Total War. Other former students have gone on to work for the likes of Rockstar North, Climax and the BBC.

But the core appeal of Brunel’s courses is the staff’s passion for finding new ways to exploit the unique narrative opportunities games present, say lecturers Doug Brown and Professor Tanya Krzywinska.

A map of additional content associated with Will Self's digital essay, Kafka's Wound, which includes The Game Of The Wound by Brunel's professor Tanya Krzywinska

“The commercial imperative can be overstated,” explains Brown, who worked at Square Enix on Final Fantasy XII before a move into academia.

“We want people to play around with what a game can be. We see it as our role to help students to innovate. We don’t just want people to acquire the skills to work in the industry we know now. We want them to develop creative capacity. And that is ultimately what will help them to get into employment.”

Brown’s colleague Krzywinska has collaborated with him on several game research papers. Her background is in film study and she seeks to inspire students to consider the beauty of games as a medium to challenge the expectations of players.

“Recently I did a little experimental game for Will Self’s digital essay Kafka’s Wound,” says Krzywinska. “I tried to bring some kind of ludic vocabulary to the project.”

Kafka’s Wound was commissioned by London Review Of Books for The Space, a digital arts platform created by the Arts Council and BBC. It is meant to explore a traditional written narrative and expand it with rich media and other content without losing the coherence of the original text.

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