RMIT games students play into their skills in game design intensive

RMIT games students play into their skills in game design intensive

A dedicated group of Bachelor of Design (Games) students spent their semester break in the classroom designing an interactive game for the PlayStation 4 platform Dreams - with only ten working days to complete the task.

The simulation, delivered by Sony's Media Molecule, a multi-award-winning games development studio in the UK, gave students a look into the world of work in the games industry where they were provided with the opportunity to design and complete a game in a team dependent environment.

Senior Lecturer in the School of Design and Social Context Dr Jennifer Lade facilitated the program with Media Molecule's Outreach Coordinator and RMIT alumni Daniel Kidney. 

Lade expressed the great value in bringing industry experiences with the likes of tech giants such as Sony to students. 

"Being able to collaborate with alumni and notable industries and have them offer their expertise is invaluable," said Lade. 

It's the third year RMIT had partnered with Media Molecule to deliver the program, which immerses students in industry processes from pre-production to quality assurance and testing. 

In addition to the practical elements of game design, Kidney emphasises the biggest lesson students took from the program was how diverse skillsets make for a great team.

"Games design is very interesting in how different disciplines are required to make a game. Careers in gaming are very broad and very different types of people can work in games. 

"It's a collaborative effort to keep a project on track, hit the scope and finish on time. There're technical brains in programming, creatives in art, organised communicators in production and everything in between," said Kidney.

 A group of students sit around a desktop computer as a team member plays a video games. Rigorous testing was required to ensure the game ran smoothly. Image: RMIT University

Echoing Kidney's sentiment was second year student and Treasurer of RMIT's Computer Science Information Technology Society, Ben Koder.

"The biggest skill required (for game design) is teamwork. It's very difficult to make an entire experience on your own. You don’t necessarily need to know code or art. What you do need to know is how your interests and abilities work in a team environment."

Already employed as a Virtual Reality research assistant helping to develop educational tools at RMIT, Koder points out skills learnt in game design can be very useful across the board. 

"There's a lot of untapped uses for interactive tools and games. This degree and intensive has been useful in teaching me software skills, but also psychology and design practices," said Koder.

Third year student Jin Tan leant on his training as a classical musician to contribute to his team’s game. 

“There's a lot of different parts in game design that come together as a whole. So much thought goes into the background and detail of making a game and improving user experience. I was able to use my knowledge as a trained musician to compose and create sound effects, which is a big part of that experience,” said Tan.

A group of students stand around a whiteboard as they map out their game. Game design is a collaborative effort which requires detailed planning and multiple disciplines. Image: RMIT University

Games courses are also attracting an increasing number of females, with second year student Chasel Sun aiming for a career in the creative side of game design

“My main role in the team is to make 3D assets and sculpts. I made most of the natural sculpts such as the leaves and rocks and the main character, as well as their movements,” said Sun.

Lade said it is encouraging to see more women pursuing studies and careers in game design and hopes to build on the number of females considering game design as a pathway.  

“It's important to have a diverse culture in those making games. If I was going to give advice to young women in games I would say don't hesitate. Without women in games we aren't expressing what our culture stands for.”

Media Molecule is a video game development studio based in Guildford in the UK and is a member of the PlayStation Worldwide Studios. They are the creators of multi-award winning games such as LittleBigPlanet and are currently building the next generation of Play, Create and Share for PlayStation 4: Dreams. 

RMIT’s Bachelor of Design (Games) unique degree provides specialist training in interactive digital design with particular emphasis on game design and art practice.

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RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.