- Course studied:
- Computer Games Design
- Year of graduation:
Computer Games Design graduate Stuart Butler is a Director of his own games company and a Senior Lecturer in the same department where he was a student. He’s been playing, modifying and creating his own games since primary school, and now teaches the next generation of designers in an ever-growing industry.
“The Computer Games Design course at Staffordshire University has changed a lot since I was a student,” said Stuart. “The industry is constantly changing and we have to keep pace to stay relevant, which means learning new programs, techniques and workflows in the summer, before teaching students in the autumn. The course looks nothing like what it used to when I started teaching in 2009 and it’s vastly different 12 years on since I was a student.”
The course is not the only change, as Stuart has seen huge improvements in the quality of student work, leading to greater employment success and better industry links for the Games Design department.
He said: “When I was a student here we had one or two people that realistically had a chance of getting into the industry straight away after graduation. Over the last few years, we’ve had many graduates secure jobs at some of the UK’s largest games studios, including Playground Games, Codemasters, Dovetail Games and Jagex. Last year, we had six or seven graduates start at Rockstar Games, known for their Grand Theft Auto series.
“The amount of people that now go into industry is much higher. The quality of work they are producing is why we have the Epic Games Centre. Employers see Staffordshire University on a CV and immediately add it to the read pile.”
Stuart began his own games industry career before he graduated, after taking a placement at Jester Interactive, spending 18 months throughout 2007/08 working on two of their TT Superbikes racing titles.
“I did the design and art for those games,” he recalled. “It’s something I’d always had an interest in. I remember when I was growing up my brother and I used to change the colours of the Formula 1 cars in a game we had. I used to mess about with the games more than I played them. I just got more excited about modifying them.”
“I wish games courses were available at college when I was 17,” Stuart continued. “I studied Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Computing at A level, but I think my self-taught games design skills gave me a better grounding in the industry before I pursued it as a degree. These days, there are great college courses available, including the one I worked on for AQA.”
Teaching and ThunderSteed
In 2009, Stuart was offered a job as a Lecturer at Staffordshire University. Now a Senior Lecturer and Award Leader of BA(Hons) Computer Games Animation, he is also a Director at ThunderSteed Ltd, a games development company set up with fellow Lecturer Greg Penninck. The pair create online learning courses for games development using Unreal Engine 4 as well as creating games for mobile platforms including iOS and Android.
He said: “ThunderSteed was set up just over two years ago. We wanted to create an industry profile for ourselves, using our games development and teaching experience to help others.”
Since becoming a Senior Lecturer and running his own company, Stuart has written the college curriculum for AQA’s Entertainment Technology Games Qualification for which he is now the Chief Examiner.