London Graduate Thrives at Award-Winning Placement with Staffordshire University

Leon Kershaw, BSc Computer Games Design graduate, joins Bulldogs Studios through Staffordshire University's 1UP placement scheme.

A male graduate in graduation cap and gown.

Leon Kershaw, Graduate of BSc Computer Games Design at Staffordshire University London.

Placements are an essential part of the Staffordshire University's employability provision. Research and employers tell us that students with work experience get better and faster graduate jobs, higher salaries, and better degree classification. So, for us is essential to work with students and employers to ensure placements are available and accessible to all students, like is the case with 1UP placements.

Carolina Salinas, Head of Student and Graduate Employability at Staffordshire University

In the dynamic world of games development, graduates from Staffordshire University London are carving out successful careers, and Leon Kershaw is a prime example. Leon recently completed his BSc Computer Games Design degree and received the opportunity to work for Bulldogs Studios at Staffordshire University, renowned for its TIGA award-winning 1UP placement scheme recognised as the 'Best Education Initiative'. This unique programme provides students with invaluable hands-on industry experience.

On Leon’s placement at Bulldog Studios, Leon and the team were steadfast in creating a social deduction game, similar to popular games like Among Us, Project Winter, and Goose Goose Duck. The game's premise centres around a band of space pirates embarking on a daring mission to raid an organic spaceship brimming with valuable yet perilous artifacts. The objective is to snatch as much of this treacherous loot as possible within a tight 30-minute window. The game itself is played from a first-person perspective in an immersive 3D environment, the game pits groups of 10 players against the clock as they scavenge for and deposit loot of considerable value. However, a twist adds an element of intrigue, players have the option to betray their comrades by eliminating them and seizing their share of the loot. Fallen players leave behind an ID card, which when collected, grants the bearer access to the deceased's portion of the haul.

Head of Student and Graduate Employability for Staffordshire University, Carolina Salinas, emphasised, “Placements are an essential part of the Staffordshire University's employability provision. Research and employers tell us that students with work experience get better and faster graduate jobs, higher salaries, and better degree classification. So, for us is essential to work with students and employers to ensure placements are available and accessible to all students, like is the case with 1UP placements”.

Leon's role as a designer on this high-stakes game of strategy and betrayal, encompassed diverse responsibilities. He collaborated with fellow designers to conceptualise game mechanics and systems, ensuring effective communication with other team members, including artists and programmers. Weekly meetings provided opportunities to review progress and engage in project-related discussions. Additionally, Leon has demonstrated his versatility and dedication by contributing to tasks beyond his primary role, such as implementing audio in the game engine.

The placement at Bulldogs Studios offered Leon a supportive environment, offering mentoring and guidance to interns like Leon, throughout their placements. Various staff members, including Holly O’Rourke from the graduate team and senior lecturers Davin Ward, Craig Weightman, and Carlton Reeve, were readily available to provide support and assistance.

Leon also expressed gratitude towards the supportive staff at Staffordshire University London, particularly praising the academics as well as the dedicated support services. The strong guidance significantly contributed to Leon's positive university journey. In reflection of the 1UP placement scheme, he noted that he became aware of the opportunity through regular emails sent to graduates and alumni. Leon recommends that other students also keep an eye on these emails to seize such opportunities. Leon mentioned, “We regularly receive frequent graduate and alumni emails, which tells you about upcoming opportunities, so it’s definitely worth checking your emails!”.

Staffordshire University London provides career and graduate opportunities to its students all year round. These initiatives bring together employers and students, fostering positive interactions and ensuring that students are adequately prepared for the professional world. Carolina Salinas highlighted, “There is a full suite of support to ensure Staffordshire University students are work and placement ready. The University has a dedicated careers portal where students can book a 1:1 appointment to check their CV, portfolios, cover letters and practice interview skills. We also have in-curriculum workshops to cover the essentials of job searching too! The portal has a dedicated jobs-board where last year we advertised over 4000 jobs and placements, we also take a caseload management approach where all second-year students are called by an allocated Placement Coordinator to ensure that they're on track with their placement search and can get help if they need it”. With a solid educational foundation and support from both the Staffordshire University and Bulldog Studios, graduates like Leon are well-equipped to excel in the competitive field of game design.

Reflecting on his time at Staffordshire University London, Leon described it as an enriching experience. Leon remarked, “My experience at Staffordshire University London studying Computer Games Design was a great experience! From learning the fundamentals like learning how to use Unreal Engine, to grasping how to craft comprehensive game design documents, and even bringing prototypes to life. I also enjoyed the solo project module, where I could delve into my own creative ideas, as well as the collaborative module, which laid the groundwork for teamwork in game development. These experiences were invaluable and provided a solid foundation for my internship at Bulldogs Games, where I could apply the skills and knowledge gained during my studies.”

Reflecting on the skills acquired at Staffordshire University London, Leon highlights the importance of soft skills such as teamwork, communication, and the ability to seek and act upon feedback. Leon said, “Utilising hard skills acquired during my studies, such as crafting detailed game design documentation and navigating Unreal Engine alongside blueprints with visual scripting, were important in my role as a designer. These skills translated into practical application, assisting with his contributions to the project. However, I found that soft skills, particularly communication and teamwork, were honestly the biggest ones needed during this project, as it was mostly working remotely, and required for the entire team to be on the same page and the project ran smoothly”.

For students contemplating career and graduate opportunities and seeking clarity on the selection criteria for these positions. Carolina Salinas suggested, “The most important is evidencing generic transferable skills like communication, teamwork and problem solving and a positive can-do attitude. Employers are less interested in technical skills and more in overall willingness to do a good job, learn and work collaboratively with others”.


Despite the challenges posed by remote work and pressure to meet project milestones, Leon fondly recalls the collaborative effort and the sense of accomplishment from witnessing the project's progress. Leon said, “Seeing everyone’s work come together throughout the development and what we all built together is fantastic. We faced challenges and overcame them, and while we didn’t fully finalise the game by the end of the placement, the work everyone did was superb!”. Leon Kershaw's success story exemplifies Staffordshire University London's commitment to providing quality education and fostering opportunities for graduates.

 

If you are interested in learning more about our careers and graduate opportunities, Career Connect, provides students and graduates with useful career-related information, resources, job opportunities at all levels. For more information email careers@staffs.ac.uk.

If you're interested in delving deeper into Leon's journey into the games industry, you can explore his website at: https://www.leonkershaw.com/

 

The characters showcased in the playable game.

A display of the interior spaceship level design.

A display of the sewer level design.

A display of the mainframe level design..

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