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New Course Discourse // MA Games Design

FdA Games Design Image by Quang Vong, Sami Hoang & Sam Chau

BA (Hons) Games Design work.

In our latest New Course Discourse feature, we chat to Programme Director Ben Stopher to find out more about the new MA Games Design course.

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?

gaming

BA (Hons) Games Design workshop.

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.

BA Games Design (Top up) Image by Rokas Butkus

BA (Hons) Games Design work.

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.

Games Design - LCC_Show_03_2013_PV_by_Ana_Escobar_032

BA (Hons) Games Design workshop.

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.

FdA Games Design Image by sam-chau

BA (Hons) Games Design work.

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.

Find out more about MA Games Design

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Green Week Review // Creative Activism

Day5_Activism_Talk (7)

Designer Paul Hamilton prepares students for their Green Week 2015 activism workshops. Image © Lewis Bush

During this year’s Green Week, a panel of experts spoke on art, design and campaigning in order to kick-start LCC’s Games for Change and X Challenge practical workshops. BA (Hons) Journalism student Ella Jukwey reports.

When we think about activism, we usually think about protests and boycotting. We rarely think that activism can have a creative aspect to it. So it was intriguing to find out about the creative methods that can be adopted in activism.

As part of UAL’s Green Week 2015, a lecture on creative activism was held at LCC. It’s apt to discuss creative activism within UAL because the University is a famous breeding ground of influential creative minds.

david buckland

David Buckland, founder and director, Cape Farewell. Image © Lewis Bush.

The first speaker at the lecture was David Buckland. Buckland created and now directs the Cape Farewell project, helping to bridge the gap between artists and climate scientists.

Buckland showed a moving short film that included poet Lemn Sissay. As Sissay chanted “What if we weakened ourselves getting strong?”, his powerful poem assisted by violins was a moving display. This showed that activism could be something as beautiful and artistic as poetry.

The next speaker, Tony Credland, a Senior Lecturer and Lead Tutor at LCC, showed the vibrancy of activism. Credland is involved in Reclaim the Streets. RTS was developed in the mid-nineties and is a collective that champions community ownership of public spaces. Credland also described Reclaim the Streets as a critique of the capitalism that was driving the destruction of the climate.

tony credland

Tony Credland, LCC Senior Lecturer and Lead Tutor. Image © Lewis Bush

When the conservative government built new roads, RTS responded by throwing a street party. They blocked traffic for hours and their street party involved debate and discussion.

In 1996, Reclaim the Streets held a street party on the M41. They closed and drilled up the motorway and planted trees. In 1997 they held a street party called Never Mind the Ballots.

A defining feature of RTS’ street parties was the use of masks. The colour-coded masks helped to evade police but also share an important message. The masks made the protest less about the individual and more about the cause.

RTS said, “By wearing masks we show that who we are is not as important as what we want. What we want is for everyone.”

Reclaim the Streets did not just protest through street parties, they also distributed papers. RTS created a mock newspaper Evading Standards, a spin on London’s free paper Evening Standard. Twenty thousand copies of Evading Standards were given out.

This method of making mock-ups of popular brands is not unique to RTS. The following speaker, designer Paul Hamilton, also mocked up images in a project with Greenpeace.

paul - greenpeace

Designer and OneAnother co-founder Paul Hamilton. Image © Lewis Bush.

The Killer KitKat campaign was a mock-up of KitKat’s billboard. The image was so convincing that Nestlé thought that there were actually KitKats with the name Killer on them. The reason behind the campaign was that Nestlé were destroying rainforests and therefore endangering orangutans.

They were put up as banners and in the nearest railway station to Nestlé’s headquarters in the UK. The campaign also forced Nestlé to drop the palm oil which was endangering the animals.

The Creative Activism lecture showed that when creativity and activism joined forces, amazing things could happen. Attendees were made aware that creative people have a role to play within environmentalism.

Words by Ella Jukwey.

Read more about Green Week

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Glow Away

Charley Cramer and Davide Russo, met while studying Creative Advertising BA (Hons) at the London College of Communication. Here, Charley tells us how a chance phone call from a stressed-out parent gave them the idea for Glow Away, a two piece set designed to help kids get rid of their fear of the dark, which they have just launched on Kickstarter…

Charley Cramer & Davide Russo

Charley Cramer & Davide Russo

Why did you chose to study BA Creative Advertising at the London College of Communications?
I have always been interested in the creative industries, as well as the more academic discipline of psychology. I wanted to study something that encompassed both of these, and I felt the BA at LCC could offer me that.

How did the course prepare you for the world of work?
The course at LCC ultimately taught us how to solve problems using creativity. It also highlighted the importance of working in a creative environment, and the values of being surrounded by like-minded people. I loved that when I was studying at LCC I could go to lazer cutting and screen printing workshops one day, and speak with an interior architect student the next.

During the course we were encouraged to enter advertising competitions.  Davide and I entered one of our projects in to the One Show, (a US non-profit organization devoted to elevating creative work in the industry) which we subsequently won. The BA Creative Advertising at the LCC was the only course outside the US to win any awards that year and continues to have a great relationship with the organisation.

What are you doing now?
I am working for Protein, a creative agency. I am also launching a new business,Glow Away, with my fellow classmate Davide Russo.

Glowaway

Glowaway

Tell us about Glow Away
Davide and I worked together a lot when we were studying at the LCC, and have remained great friends since. We were always emailing each other about ideas we had, not doing anything about it, and then seeing the ideas being launched by other people six months later. We made a pact that we would launch the next idea we had.

We came up with the idea for Glow Away as the result of a phone call from Davide’s sister. Her child was having trouble sleeping because he was afraid of the dark, but it wasn’t until we realized the extent of the problem that we decided to take action. Fear of the dark is something we can all relate to, either because we were ourselves terrified at night or because our children or siblings were. In fact, for 50% of all 2-7 year olds, and their parents, sleepless nights are a regular event thanks to children’s incredible imaginations. Glow Away is here to change that. We use the power of children’s imaginations to actually help them overcome their fear.

Glowaway

Based on child psychology theories and developed under advice from psychologists and paediatricians, Glow Aways consists of a bedtime story book and a glow-in-the-dark duvet cover. The bedtime story book is about a boy, called Sam, who is scared of the dark. One night a cute little creature pops out of his duvet and tells him a magic spell that will ignite the protecting power of his duvet. Glow Away comes with a duvet cover that looks the same as the one that Sam has in the book. Once you turn off the lights the duvet glows with the magic spell making your child feel protected by magic all night long!

How did you get Glow Away off the ground?
We applied for funding fromVirgin Startup. This was successful, and so we were assigned a business advisor who helped us challenge some of the assumptions we had made in the business plan. After receiving funding we were then matched to another mentor, based on our needs, and their skills. We are currently selling solely through our e-commerce website, but are in the process of negotiating with independent retailers, and then eventually we hope to sell through the larger retailers.

What problems have you faced in setting up the business, and how have you overcome them?
I have never truly appreciated the phrase “People generally overestimate the short term and underestimate the long term” until we started the business. I expected to sell quite a lot quite quickly, but this hasn’t been the case, it is a much slower process than I expected which has been quite humbling.

Glowaway Set

Glowaway Set

It has been suggested that millennial parents, our target market, need about 22-24 impressions before they commit to buy a product. This requires significant investment in PR, advertising, as well as time. It is also difficult balancing the full time job with launching the business. I dedicate an hour a day to Glow Away, alternating between morning and evening. I also have a call at 9pm every night with Davide, which helps me stay on track, and not get too carried away with the agency work.

Have you found the contacts you made during the course useful when launching the business?
I am still good friends with a number of my old course mates. We enlisted a number of them to help with the project launch, including the photographer Jevgeni Repponen and Eric Freitas who helped us set up a PR plan. We are also going back to the LCC and setting Glow Away as a live brief for this year’s BA in Creative Advertising strategy cohort – the students will be asked to design an advertising campaign for the project. The winning student will be rewarded with an internship at Protein (the agency I am currently working for).

What is your vision for Glowaway’s future?
We are now at a point where we have a beautiful product that works and people want to buy. However, we need substantial capital in order to go into mass production and really get Glow Away into the hearts and minds of our target audience. For this reason we are launching a Kickstarter campaign in order to raise enough money to enable us to raise awareness of Glow Away and solve the problem of fear of the dark once and for all. We would really appreciate if you could go on our Kickstarter page today and back us. There are a choice of rewards for different levels of backing so we hope that there’s something you’ll like in there.

Find out more about Creative Advertising BA (Hons) at the London College of Communication

Review // Design Cultures Guest Lecture: David Kershaw, CEO, M&C Saatchi

David Kershaw LCC group

From l-r: Student Ernst Young (quoted below), speaker David Kershaw and Associate Lecturer Maureen Salmon

David Kershaw, CEO, M&C Saatchi, visited LCC recently to talk to students on the BA (Hons) Design Cultures course studying the Contextual and Theoretical Studies – Creative Industries unit.

LCC Associate Lecturer Maureen Salmon MA FRSA reports on a fascinating lecture on advertising agencies and leadership.

David Kershaw was educated at Bedales School and Durham University, where he obtained a BA (Hons) in Politics and Economics. He entered advertising as a graduate trainee at Wasey Campbell-Ewald in 1977.

He then gained an MBA from the London Business School, and later joined Saatchi & Saatchi UK. He became its Chairman and CEO in 1994.

In January 1995 he resigned together with Maurice and Charles Saatchi, Bill Muirhead and Jeremy Sinclair to set up M&C Saatchi. The company has 22 offices around the world.

David began by talking about his career journey. He described how, with a lucky piece of advice, he entered the corporate world of advertising. The setting of M&C Saatchi was an “entrepreneurial adventure”.

David highlighted the importance of simplicity in leading and managing. Talking about M&C Saatchi, he said: “What we do is create communication that sell things or ideas for our clients. Advertising is about trying to change people’s behaviour, sometimes their thinking.”

He explained that an agency has to answer six key questions:

1. Who are we selling to?
2. What do we want them to do?
3. What should we say?
4. How should we say it?
5. Where shall we say it?
6. How will we know if it works?

To illustrate, he showed the ‘Mighty White Bread’ (Australia) advertisement.

He also asked:

What do you need to get a job?

• Account Management & Planning: a degree, passion and personality
• Creative: a ‘book’ often put together at college/specialist courses
• Production – a trade, craft skill: college/apprenticeship

A lively discussion ensued, with some insightful questions and comments from the students on leadership, creativity, the future of advertising in the digital age and the kind of people the advertising industry is looking to recruit. In David Kershaw’s words, these are “people with a good degree plus a smart personality, passion and relentlessness.”

Student responses //

“David Kershaw’s talk on leadership was something that I had to take note of, no matter what. He gave many of his own personal insights into the importance of being an executive at M&C Saatchi. I felt thankful that he was able to make time to come in to talk with us about his experiences and remind us that apart from being skilled at what you do, having a personality and a positive attitude are something that prestigious firms look for. I hope that in the near future we will be able to invite him over again to do another talk as I feel that many students have missed this rare opportunity to listen to one of the greats in the industry.”
Ernst Young, BA (Hons) Advertising, Year 2

“I really enjoyed listening to David Kershaw and was inspired by his ideas on leadership and how to have clarity of purpose, avoid complexity and platitudes, be different, make a difference by doing good work, have courage, manage risk and encourage 100% participation. Leadership is more important than management. It’s all about people – make sure they are better than you, diverse in talent, skills and personality, passionate, and relentless.”
Nuria Urcelay, BA (Hons) Design Cultures, Year 1

“David Kershaw’s ideas on the concept of permanent revolution resonated with me. “Keep shaking things up, question yourself” when he was talking about leadership, and as an inspirational one I will also choose “Don’t absorb, radiate.”
Esther Fuentes, BA (Hons) Design Cultures, Year 1

On behalf of LCC, UAL, we thank David for sharing his ideas and experience on leadership and his entrepreneurial adventure in advertising with our students.

He is one of the UK creative industries’ most inspirational and passionate leaders who has demonstrated his commitment to developing and inspiring future leaders for the industry, through his work as a board member of the Clore Leadership Programme and as chairman of the Cultural Leadership Programme from 2006 to 2011.

Students who attended the talk have been invited to apply for the 2015 M&C Saatchi Work Placement Scheme.

Words by Maureen Salmon MA FRSA
Associate Lecturer BA (Hons) Design Cultures/Contextual and Theoretical Studies

Read more about BA (Hons) Design Cultures

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Staging Disorder // Angus Carlyle

Angus Carlyle - entrance

The Cave Mouth and The Giant Voice in LCC’s Well Gallery. Image © Lewis Bush.

Our photography and sound arts exhibition Staging Disorder is open until Thursday 12 March, and explores ideas of the ‘real’ in relation to modern conflict.

We asked exhibiting sound artist and Co-Director of CRiSAP (Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice) Angus Carlyle to tell us more about his work.

Can you tell us a bit about your contribution to Staging Disorder?

The Cave Mouth and The Giant Voice is a collaboration between myself and the anthropologist Rupert Cox. Installed in a dark space beneath the bridge across the Well Gallery, the work centres on a cave under the town of Sunabe, on the island of Okinawa.

It was here that Yogi-San sheltered from the US naval bombardment and it was here where he took us to tell his story.

That story is relayed in projected subtitles and by a composition of environmental sounds that connects the cave and Yogi’s memories of its past to the present day and the audible American military presence.

What drew you to tackle the subject of staged conflict?

In a sense, The Cave Mouth is a sketch for a sequel to our previous project called Air Pressure.

Air Pressure focused on an organic small-holding that is now almost engulfed by the architecture of Narita Airport near Tokyo but remains home to the last farming family of the many who settled in the area in the aftermath of WWII and created rich arable land out of what once was forest.

Among other things, Rupert and I are interested in how lives can be lived in intense environmental circumstances, how the present might be connected to the past and how sound can make these complex realities audible.

Angus Carlyle - text

Image © Lewis Bush.

What responses have you received to the work you are showing?

Among the various words I’ve heard used to describe The Cave Mouth have been “heavy”, “disturbing”, “harsh”, “delicate”, “meditative” and, dismayingly, “interesting”.

Quite a number of people have commented on how the work recreates the atmosphere of the dripping cave and our walk across the lagoon with some night fishermen.

Others have talked about the pace and rhythm of the subtitles or have spoken of how the sounds within the installation blur and blend with the noises bleeding in from outside.

What are you currently working on outside the College?

Rupert is currently writing a book for Bloomsbury Press – The Sound of the Sky Being Torn – which is an historical ethnography of military aircraft noise.

I am completing various parts of a long-term project based on the Picentini mountain range in Southern Italy, with an album of environmental sound recordings and several texts to be published in the summer.

Over the next two years we will both be collaborating on a new soundfilm that explores more of the island of Okinawa, working with the acoustic scientist Kozo Hiramatsu and the media artist Atsushi Nishimura.

What do you think is the effect of holding an exhibition like this at LCC?

We are very lucky at LCC to have such a vibrant and active programme of exhibitions. Even outside the degree show season there is always work to listen to and to see; and this is not just in the main gallery spaces but also in PARC, in the library and in the screenings organised by the Documentary Research Forum.

Having said that, the very scale of Staging Disorder, how it has been curated and designed, how it shifts between different media, and how it inhabits the College, makes it a particularly powerful presence. I hope it inspires and provokes.

What advice would you give to current LCC students?

I find it difficult to answer your question. The phrases that are on the tip of my tongue are things our students already know well in their hearts and demonstrate in their practice.

Can I wriggle out of a direct response by offering a quotation from the artist Robert Irwin that the LCC alumnus Dan Holdsworth recently sent me? Irwin, a visual artist whose later work involves interventions that alter the perception of space, recommended that:

“For the next week, try the best you can to pay attention to sounds. You will start hearing all these sounds coming in. Once you let them in, you’ve already done the first and most critical thing, you’ve honoured that information by including it. And by doing that, you’ve actually changed the world.”

Visit Angus Carlyle’s website

Read more about CRiSAP

Learn more about Staging Disorder

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