Marc Walker, Computer Science (Games) and founder member of the Game Jam Society gives us an insight into Game Jams, networking events and making the most of life as a student in Brighton
My brother first got accepted to the University of Brighton, he then introduced me to this course and here I am. I was really happy to be accepted onto the course as it was something I’ve always wanted to do. These courses never existed when I was a teenager and the support for things like programming was non-existent. Thankfully the UK perspective on Computer Games has changed a lot since then.
The highlight of my course – making games of course! Game Development/Design is what I find most interesting, I’ve also taken a recent interest into Algorithms and Intelligent systems like A* Algorithm. I’d recommend this course if you desire to get into the gaming industry, but you will become a Game Developer rather than a Gamer and there’s a difference.
Richard Leinfellner has been a fountain of information and a real character to listen to when I have him for a lecture, every student has a great relationship with him and I have a lot of respect for him. Almas Baimagambetov is a real cool guy, he might look serious at first when you meet him but he helped us a lot to get our first uni Game Jam with Richard during his spare time which the students really appreciated. He also has a great sense of humour, especially on your expectations when making games during university. Panagiotis Fortaris is a really motivated guy and cares about getting the best out of his students and the course itself. He supports you every step of the way (if you let him) and he pushes you to do better and greater things.
I attended Develop:Brighton this year which was firstly an invaluable learning experience the three days I went. I learned so much about where gaming will likely go in the future, the design processes that go into making one while also talking about the progress of diversifying the workforces in the industry to make games more relatable and real to other people as we become more and more involved with other cultures was another big topic spoken about. Local AAA game studio Hangar 13 for example are really pushing hard to get more women, more diverse cultures and the LGBTQ+ community into their studio and the gaming industry in general which is great to see.
Develop:Brighton is a hub for networking with likeminded individuals and experts in the industry that will decide if you get hired or not when you are looking for placement or have finished your degree down the line. I walked in with 5-7 contacts on my LinkedIn profile (mostly friends, lecturers and people that felt sorry for me) and walked out with nearly 50 when the whole event was over and these were mostly all veterans/experts in the gaming industry that accepted me because I noted that I attended their conference, spoke to them face to face and mentioned how interesting their discussion was which goes a long way because enthusiasm and engagement means a lot in this industry and you have to prove that to them however best you can
I absolutely intend to do a placement, the sooner I set into a game studio and start making games as a job I would have fulfilled everything I need in life. As long as I can be creative by putting my ideas about making a game better forward and then make that happen myself or within a team, while also being able to seek new knowledge to improve further, to eventually use that to help my team make something even better or progress to something new and exciting. I’d be satisfied with that role. I really love to learn new things that involve the gaming industry and computers, so I don’t want that to stop after I leave University.
The University has given me the chance to do something I’ve always wanted to do since I was a kid, I’ve turned around my attitude towards Maths, I’m much more engaged with my education than I ever was, I’ve developed more patience when things get hard and to express myself to friends and lecturers when I struggle and since I have Dyslexia that can happen quite often. I’m also starting to develop leadership skills and public speaking which is pretty cool and I used to be petrified of speaking in large crowds, so I’ve grown a lot this past year already and probably even more than I realise. Person wise it’s made me much more positive with ‘my’ life, even with all the political dumpster fires and petty internet arguments going around the world which I don’t have any time for anymore as I’m having too much fun growing here and moving forward in my life and meeting new and interesting people around the world that are doing the same.
The best thing about Brighton is that you can be pretty much be anybody and barely anyone here would have an issue with it, just be honest with yourself, express yourself openly and fairly, listen and learn from other people’s concerns and help build round that positivity.
The biggest advice I would give any new student for a course like this is that you have to change your perspective from a Gamer to a Game Developer. I hardly play as many games as I used to as I want to make them now rather than just play them all the time. Doing loops and printing strings at the beginning of the degree with programming doesn’t sound very exciting at the start but keep at it and you’ll eventually get there and work on more interesting topics when you’re ready. Don’t worry though, Richard always keeps telling us to keep playing the most modern games as ‘extracurricular activities’ to keep a pulse on current trends and who am I to question that kind of advice!