The first third year
We are now mid-way into the first semester of the first third year of the BA Games Design & Art course here at WSA. The ambition for the course was to create approaches and use methodologies to foster new thinking in games and to build a course that through making pushes games into areas beyond entertainment. When we created the course we saw many courses that service the industry really well and had feedback that another course like this would not be competitive. However, what we did see from our research and discussions with the industry was a growing demand for designers, artists and creative thinkers within games. With this in mind we built a small research led undergraduate games course (25 per year) combining design thinking and lots of making through iterative small team work that we felt would enable the creation and consideration of wider implication and application in games and play.
I am pleased to say we are now starting to see the realisation of that ambition and after an intensive research phase the first final year cohort (11) have what looks like an impressive collection of innovate games ideas. The areas of focus are currently education, mental health, homelessness, cyborgs and augmented humans, holographic and projection immersion, colour therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychology, stress inducing co-operative play and behavioural change.
This would see most of our games sitting in the serious games field, at the moment I have a few concerns with that term so for now I’m sticking with calling them socially responsible games, however I digress.
Within year 3 we are working through a semester of research and prototyping culminating in proposal documents, papers, kickstarter style films and more in the guise of a GDD (games design document) followed by a semester of implementation individually or as teams. I created a diagram of the first semester. The structure is so far working well and I have had some positive feedback on my new approach to visualising the year ahead in diagrammatic form.
One student @SDKompile has progressed rapidly and has been confident enough to start releasing initial super early prototypes. He hopes that his final project will become a series of short mini ‘games’ that look at and bring to light via the medium of play, the issues around homelessness.
This first prototype is not a game as such but in its current form is an interactive story; the only interaction is to progress the storyline.
You can ‘play’ the game here and feedback is very much encouraged.
In this prototype ‘faded’ you can’t stop your character from vanishing as you try to tell your story to the passers by who ignore you — and that’s the point. It’s a reflection on the way many just ignore the homeless. It’s a fine art ‘game’ or piece of digital art at the moment and there is plenty to work on but the testing and feedback is designed to inform future implementation.
The next prototype takes its idea from defensive architecture, that is spaces designed specifically to move on and stop homeless people sleeping, these designs often include spikes and odd shaped seating that doesn’t allow for lying down.
The next major phase for this project is to talk to homeless charities to see if we can use this project to help raise additional funds.
A previous Cancer Research charity event held at WSA ‘My Best Friend’ is also providing some inspiration for the games students to consider a similar pop up event to raise money for a homeless charity in the near future. We are currently working on the how and when, but I am confident we will be able to do something fantastic.
Exciting times ahead indeed.
How can I find out more ?
We will be having a graduating student show both in Winchester (15th of June) and London (29th of June) in the summer of 2017, so please come along and see if the year turns out as we hoped and planned.