Inspiration Week: A Video Game Ambassador's Experience
We recently caught up with Ryan Courtier, Producer at Kuato Studios, after his VGA activities at a local primary school.
The activities that Video Game Ambassadors run in local schools, careers fairs and workshops across the country involve a lot of fun and creativity, and also inspire young people of all ages to pursue a career in the games industry. We spoke to one of our VGAs after getting involved in an 'Inspiration Week' session, who shares his tips and advice for being an ambassador.
Ukie: What made you become a VGA?
Ryan: What made me become a VGA is the chance to share the knowledge and experience I have gained over the past few years in my career to inspire the next generation of video game developers.
What would you say to other folk in the games industry who don’t know about the VGA scheme?
To people who do not know about the VGA scheme, I would say that their skills and experience are invaluable to people all over the world who are looking to start a career in the games industry, there are so many people out there who want to hear what you do and they will appreciate even the smallest amount of time you can give them. So sign up!
How did you get into the games industry?
I got into the games industry by following an art and design route from College through to University, where I studied a BA (Hons) in Games Art and Design. During my degree I took three work placements then applied directly to a studio in Portsmouth immediately after graduating, where I landed my first role as a Designer.
What words of advice would you give to young people interested in working in the same area as you?
The best words of advice I could give are to do your best always, no matter what the task. Study hard, take on as many work placements as possible during your study, even if it’s not related to your area and take the odd opportunity to meet people. Your commitment will not go unnoticed and will make you stand out, so make it count. And of course, play games! Follow the latest trends in video gaming (which are forever changing), understand what’s making players tick and focus on the area you are most interested in.
So, tell us about the VGA activity you were involved in last week.
Recently I attended Geoffrey Field Junior School in Reading as a guest Speaker as part of the Ukie Inspire Week. I gave a presentation to two groups of approximately 25 children, aged 9-10, on what I do in my job and an overview of the game development cycle.
And how did you get the children engaged with your activity?
I got the children engaged with the activity by first using an iPad for the presentation (this got them super excited), I asked lots of them about what games they like and why, allowed them to ask questions all through the presentation and as a reward for good behaviour, I brought 15 iPads with me for them to play the latest app developed at the studio I work in, which they thoroughly enjoyed. I also brought dozens of colouring books and stickers for the same app on the iPads.
What tips would you give for VGAs holding an activity in a classroom?
Be patient and there will likely be at least two teachers in the room with you so you’re not alone, don’t get scared. Keep smiling as they like smiling back at you and find ways to get them involved every 10 minutes or so during your activity as they have a short attention span.
What did you enjoy most about your session?
What I enjoyed most about the session was the feeling during session, with all these eager faces and hands constantly going up to ask questions, and afterwards when they all offer to walk you to the staff room and are so sad to see you go because they want to find out more! It’s very fulfilling.
And did you get any feedback from the teacher afterwards?
Funnily enough, I got some lovely words written by one of the students that the teacher passed onto me saying how much they enjoyed the talk and I inspired them to think about making games one day. The teacher also asked if I could attend the inspire week next year as well as the kids really enjoyed it.