Our Assistant Producer Rachael stepped up to the mark to mentor a great team from London Southbank University, self-titled 'The Slippery Dippers'. (Don't ask).
Want to know more about what it means to be a mentor? Rachael has shared her experience below.
Hello! I’m Rachael and I am the Assistant Producer here at Ripstone. When I’m not looking after our games here, I love to get involved with local gaming events and meetups. Not only is it really fun to get to know your peers working in the industry, it’s also really inspiring and keeps your creative motivation high, so when I get back to work at Ripstone I’m full of fresh new ideas!
Recently, I was offered the opportunity to act as a mentor for Ukie’s 2016 Student Game Jam, which this year was part of the brand new London Games Festival. Given just 36 hours, 15 different student teams from universities across the country were asked to compete against each other to create the best game. Ukie support and encourage upcoming talent in the games industry, whilst also offering students the opportunity to connect with people who are currently working in the games industry. And of course, to finally showcase the students’ abilities in their finished game!
For me, I relished the opportunity of working with a new set of faces that would, no doubt, approach the creative process in a very different way to the way I usually would. I find it invaluable to be encouraged to see things with a new perspective, and to look at things in a completely different way to what has been done before.
As a mentor, my role was to offer advice and guidance to the group that I was assigned to during the process. Luckily, I was assigned an awesome team who were up for the challenge: Team “Slippery Dippers” from London South Bank University. When the theme of “Utopia” was announced, the team quickly formed a strong game idea that fit with the theme, whilst also keeping in mind the criteria in which they were being judged on.
The game they created, “UrTopia” was a mobile game in which the player has to defend and protect their utopian planet from anything that might threaten its balance. Whether this may be meteors, invasions, natural disasters, it is your job to keep order in this little world of yours.
With this in mind, the team cracked on to make it happen! It was an ambitious game to make in a short time, so I helped them to organise their schedule and responsibilities, whilst also specifying and finalising the structure of the game design. We also performed build reviews together over skype to discuss how the game was progressing, and what their next steps would be. A game jam can be an intense couple of days, so they kept spirits high by creating a Twitter handle for their team, and sharing their progress on their game for other to see and comment on. (You can see their progress by searching for @SlipperyDippers)
When the jam drew to a close in the wee hours of the night, the team delivered the final build of UrTopia to Ukie, and took a well-deserved break after it! Throughout the entire process, they were passionate, involved and eager to receive advice and opinions. After the hand-in, we had a short debrief where we discussed if, indeed, they had found the process useful or not. Fortunately, they said they did enjoy the jam! Some of the reasons included quickly identifying and recognising the strengths in their team mates, whilst also beginning to network with other game students and industry professionals. They even discussed the opportunity of taking part in further jams soon!
The standard of work is always exceptionally high in these game jams, and this year the teams from Brunel University and the University of Chester took home winning prizes. But from working with my team at London South Bank, I know they’re going to go on to create amazing things, so watch out for them in the future!