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Oliver Williams

Course Leader: MA/MSc Video Game Development

What’s your favourite thing about teaching on this course?

I love every September when I meet the new cohort of students joining the school. I am met with a wave of energy, talent and enthusiasm. I really think it is good for the soul to work with young, motivated, talented people. It is also very rewarding to hear from ex-students once they’ve graduated, when they’ve landed their first job in the industry and are enjoying their success.

What have been your career highlights so far?

There have been a few. I ran my own web development and video production team at Screen Media Lab which was great fun. I launched a graduate scheme for BT within their Research and Development team at Parity Solutions and I worked on eight pioneering mobile apps back at the launch of the smart phones (2012) where we worked on tech which is pretty prevalent today, for example QR codes and location services.

We worked on a proof of concept which didn’t make it out of concept phase back in 2012, but it was very much like Pokemon Go! But, my career highlight has been to found and grow the School of Games, Film and Animation, which started as an academic school in 2011 with only 16 students studying Gamer Development and it is now over 150, with students studying game development (code, art, design and production), film (business, making, screenwriting) and digital marketing and has world leading partnerships with Sony, Rare, Sapient Nitro, Mediacomm and many more.

The success of the graduates is our greatest success, with students going onto to work for; RockstarGames, Creative Assembly, Ubisoft, Codemasters, BBC Creative, Essence Global, Thinkjam, Hanway FilmsTruffle Pictures and many more.

How would you describe the School?

It’s an industry focused school - pioneering, challenging and fun. It’s a place where students can find and hone their specific skillset and learn how to utilise their abilities within a safe, studio-simulated environment which ultimately help them land employment within competitive sectors and thrive within a career.

What can prospective students look forward to most when they join MA/Msc Video Game Development?

Students look forward to the opportunity to develop games in a supported and professional environment. 

As soon as they start the course they are put in ready-made development teams with coders, artists, designs and producers, we even have outsourced voice acting, music composition and SFX from students at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

Students are issued with an achievable brief and are shown how to run through the stages of game development (pre-production, production and post-production). Throughout the course students will go through the game development cycle twice, firstly on a Tablet Game project which is released on the Google Play Store, if it meets a quality threshold and finally on PlayStation4 Project with Sony London Studio. See previous projects.

What are your top tips for students thinking about joining your course?

Play a wide range of games, mobile games, PC games, console games, board game. These experiences give you the language of play and will provide reference points for conversations within game development teams. When students start, the first ‘homework’ task is to play a specific game genre. It seems obvious but if you are going to make a platform game you need to have played them. As well as playing games submerge yourself in games culture; read about the games industry, watch educational games content on YouTube, go the expos and games events.

Here are some suggested links

Why do you think it’s important to study an MA or MSc?

Having a qualification helps separate you from the competition when looking for employment. What is really powerful for graduates from the course is that they are able show a higher level qualification on their CV and crucially, in their portfolio they can show they’ve worked on a PlayStation4 Project with Sony London Studio and released a game on the Google Play Store. This combination of experience and qualifications is what employers are after and why it can be so helpful to get an MA/MSc in Video Game Development.

Do you have any advice for working in the industry?

Graduates need to have a mix of broad skills; communication, working to deadlines, working collaboratively, working with clients and specific skills which will be different for each discipline. For example, 3D modelling or, marketing analytics, or C++ programming. In short be good at something and play nicely with others. In interviews, you’ll need to be keen, enthusiastic and convey you really want the opportunity. Employers want to see energy and drive from graduate recruits and they are put off by arrogance and cynicism so be upbeat.

When you join, although you’ve just graduated you still need to show you are keen to learn from the company you’ve joined and the professionals you are working with. We never stop learning especially in video games, digital marketing and the film business.

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