Apply Now

Kieron West

Level 5 Games Design

IMG 3369

Kieron West

Kieron studies Games Design at Newcastle College University Centre. He Stepped Up to a degree after studying at Newcastle College. Find out what he has to say about his time learning with us.

Could you tell us a bit about yourself, your background, etc.?

Ever since I was little, I always thought games development would be great fun. When I left school, I found this course at Newcastle College, and I jumped at the opportunity to make my dream a reality.

Why did you choose to Step Up to a degree at Newcastle College University Centre?

Mostly because I wanted to learn more. When I started in 2018 on the Level 3 Digital Games Design and Development course, I really enjoyed the fantastic introduction I got to the principles and key skills of games design. Since I started my degree, I’ve really come into my own in terms of the knowledge and experience I need to kick-start my career.

What was it about this course that made you want to progress onto a degree at Newcastle College University Centre?

I was already familiar with the lecturers, so I knew they could help me sort out my strengths and weaknesses straight away – we work really well together! It’s also easier for me personally because I didn’t know what facilities or teaching methods other universities would use, whereas I knew that Newcastle College University Centre provided outstanding teaching and facilities.

What benefits do you think there are in choosing to stay on to study at Newcastle College University Centre?

Students already know the campus and facilities and teaching staff already know us, so we get personally tailored guidance and support to bring out the best in us in a familiar and comfortable environment. It makes that transition period when you first start university less awkward, since you'll already know people on your course!

What are the facilities like at the University Centre for your course and as a student?

They’re really good! Since I’ve progressed from Level 3, I’ve used extremely high-quality, industry-standard equipment reserved for degree level which has been a massive benefit. We also have access to a huge common room and seating area, so the circumstances have only been getting better and better since I Stepped Up.

What do you enjoy the most about your degree?

It’s mostly the friendships and knowledge I’ve gained along the way. I’ve never had a day on my degree course where I’ve felt dread about coming in; instead, I’ve always looked forward to coming into the University Centre to hang out with my friends while doing work that I absolutely love. It’s a real win-win!

What inspires you?

My family, mainly, but also some of the people in the games development community I’ve met who work incredibly hard. I think what inspires me the most is the idea that, one day, I’ll reach that level in my skills and career.

Tell us about how you have worked with industry whilst studying your degree (i.e. talks / live briefs / projects).

The games industry can be quite fickle, since studios are constantly seeking only the best of the best among their applicants for employees and internships. To improve my chances, I’ve participated in a lot of Games Jams – kind of like games design competitions, they're fantastic opportunities for experience. We’ve also had a range of speakers come in to deliver talks, which has been really helpful.

How do you think learning from industry-experienced tutors has benefitted you?

Our main lecturer is skilled in all sorts of areas! He’s done freelance work before, which is not only interesting, but it also makes me appreciate that he knows what he’s talking about, having done industry work for a variety of sector employers. My studying under him means I really am learning from the best.

How would you describe the staff at the University Centre?

I don’t have one bad word to say! They’ve all been lovely, patient and really helpful with every request I’ve ever bothered them with over the years – they’re all so responsive and absolutely amazing, I cannot praise them highly enough.

Have you overcome any challenges either before or whilst studying your degree?

Back in 2018, when I first started the Level 3 course, I was having lots of stress-related issues because Newcastle College was so different from the relatively small school I went to before. I was also having some serious health issues. Eventually, it reached the point where I was considering quitting the course altogether, but my family and my lecturers were all incredibly supportive and I was able to continue. Looking back on it now, it’s almost funny, but I know that I would never have been able to overcome those challenges without the support of staff and students here at Newcastle College.

What kinds of support have you received during your studies?

At every point in my studies here, lecturers have listened to my questions and eagerly helped me tackle any issues with assignments. They’ve also been helping me to develop my career beyond graduation. Recently, for example, my tutor has helped me to search for careers fairs and job events that will help me get my dream job, which has been super helpful!

What has been the highlight of your time studying at Newcastle College University Centre?

I’d say my back-to-back distinctions in every assignment so far! (Not to blow my own trumpet or anything, I’m just very proud of that fact.) I’ve loved everything I’ve studied and every project I have undertaken while studying at Newcastle College, so it really feels like the best and most rewarding institution I could have ever possibly chosen to study my degree.

What’s Newcastle like as a student city, in your experience?

It’s got everything you need. There’s something for everyone - and more importantly, no end of student discounts! (Seriously, check out StudentBeans or Advertiser.) I mostly use my student discounts on food and drink, mainly ice cream or bubble tea, but there are loads more for pretty much every shop in town if you look long enough.

In what ways do you think your degree at Newcastle College University Centre has prepared you for employment?

It’s given me a solid foundation of skills in many areas. We’ve done 3D modelling, animation, general games design and programming – where else offers all that with the facilities we’ve got here? I can also go away in my own time to learn more about modules I like, especially level design, to see where those opportunities could take me. Additionally, I have a module this year dedicated to professional development and improving my employability, so the interview skills, business acumen and portfolio I’ve gained from those sessions has been fantastic.

What are your plans after you graduate?

My plan is to try and get a job in industry, since I feel ready to progress into work now. Admittedly, I am curious about studying to Level 6 so I can work in level design outside of Games Jams to prove my ability to employers. If I don’t secure any employment, I would be more than happy to return to Newcastle College University Centre and study a Top-Up degree course.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking about Steppin’ Up to a degree at Newcastle College University Centre

Make sure you know what you want. If you’re like me and you enjoy the way you’ve been taught, then remaining at Newcastle College may well be the best option for you. Rather than pressuring yourself into a degree that might not be for you, research the learning styles and teaching methods you like. If the course lines up, go for it! But don’t be afraid if you don’t find the right one first time – I know a lot of people who try out multiple courses before they commit to a degree.

Describe your student experience in three words.

Fun. Rewarding. Formative.

What are your top 5 tips for Steppin’ Up at Newcastle College?

Make time for activities and projects outside your degree – the University Centre might be a great starting point, but you’ve got to secure your own future!

Don’t burn out.

Build a strong support system.

Never be afraid to ask for help – in my experience, anyone I’ve reached out to for help at Newcastle College University Centre has always been glad to hear from me.

Eat your greens, kids!