To start with Ben, can you let me a little bit about this course. Why has it been developed and what are its features and aims?
I’m super excited about MA Games Design. It’s a brand new course with a brand new studio and a brand new staff team. Students on this course need to be really interested in the idea of critical gaming, game vocation and game culture as kind of new form of artistic expression. You’ll explore the influence of game culture on wider culture and the use of game ideas for social change – like encouraging people to exercise or gamifying transport systems.
We’ll try to understand how game mechanics contribute to designing for the blended reality of both the information and physical environments of the world. We’re really interested in the concept of play. What is play? How do you understand the motive forces of why people do stuff? How do you hook them in? And, then, the ethics of that – what is the ethical damage of playing with people’s motivations and desires?
What is the difference between studying Games Design at an undergraduate level and a postgraduate level?
Well the MA is more critical and definitely more theoretical then the BA (Hons) Games Design course, but it’s still rooted in making, so we’re still building game prototypes at the core of the course. In many ways it’s like MA Animation because we’re really interested in the experimental end of the spectrum. Yes students will be able to build digital games, but they’ll also explore augmented reality, physical gaming, game vocation and all that other stuff.
So in terms of getting onto the course, where would your ideal students have come from?
Well LCC’s BA (Hons) Games Design course definitely, but also interactive media courses or general graphic design courses where students have gained some coding experience and have acquired a strong interest in games.
So coding experience seems key for the course, is that right?
Yes, you have to know how it works, but you don’t need to have a lot of specific coding experience. There are many students that are currently studying in other areas of design that would thrive on this course.
I’m really keen to find these students and encourage them to transfer their design sensibilities into gaming, because whilst it might not seem like an obvious progression, coming from another course or specialism will put students in a unique and exciting position.
What other qualities are important in Games Design students?
Postgraduate students on this course need to be intellectually curious, and they’ve got to be interested in how games culture effects the world, that’s the key.
If that means that you’re coming from a background in studying anthropology or history then don’t be put off, we will definitely look at people who have found us through a less obvious route. Whether they have a full portfolio or not we will consider students as long as they have a very strong understanding of why they want to do something like this.
What sets MA Games Design at LCC apart from other universities?
There are very few courses that deal with the idea of critical gaming, and there are none in the UK and that’s why we’re so excited about this postgraduate course. The feedback we’ve got from academics and industry that we’ve consulted whilst developing the course has been absolutely great!
I think the reason this course is so exciting to people is because a lot of games design courses elsewhere are computer science lead or art lead in terms of concept art around the game, so the idea of a design lead critical gaming course is very distinct in the market place.
In terms of where this course will lead its students, what can you say about the careers and futures of MA Games Design graduates?
There’s a whole load of stuff you can do with this course. Many graduates will go straight into games design, both for indie games developments and big studios. But also, understanding this concept of how games influence people in a large scale opens up a load of opportunities in the digital industries.
Definitely on an MA like this students have the skills to work in policy, but others might also be interested in becoming academics in the area. This is a course with a research focus and people can become researchers and practitioners.