James Wood – Scholars @ GDC 2017

With GDC fast approaching, we’ve dedicated the next few days to all representation from Scotland attending the conference thanksĀ to IGDA Foundation programs. We’re kicking off our week of feature posts with an interview with James Wood. James is one of this years IGDA Scholars.

jwoodWhat do you do?

I am in my last semester of study as a Computer Games Technology student at Abertay University here in Dundee. In my free time I attend as many game dev related events as possible, volunteering and jamming when I’m able. I just returned from a weekend in Belgium helping out at the Screenshake festival there which was very fun and inspiring! Whenever I’m travelling or feeling exhausted I tend to work on tiny personal projects. Everything from twitter bots to custom controllers. I love finding the interesting intersections of maths and art and programming helps me to unwind. I also spend an evening every fortnight at the local Code Club assisting kids as they make little games and interactive experiences.

Where are you from/what is your connection to Scotland?

I was born and raised in West Linton, a small village near Edinburgh, often people are surprised when I tell them I’ve lived in Scotland my entire life because my accent does not reflect my heritage. When I was entering high school my family moved away to South Africa for a year and I gained a twinge of their wonderful accent leaving me in limbo. Often people swear I’m American or Australian but in my mind I’m Scottish and I have the kilt and decades of country dancing to prove it.

Why did you choose to apply to IGDA Scholarships specifically?

Upon moving to Dundee to study I was excited to begin networking with other developers and very quickly learned about the IGDA through the University. They asked for volunteers to help at a night of talks hosted by Abertay. I leapt on the opportunity and when the event came about it was everything I’d hoped and more. The organisers and speakers were so welcoming and willing to discuss all the questions we had. Even though we were first years and these were industry veterans they treated us like old friends. I’ve only ever had wonderful experiences volunteering at IGDA events and without them I would have missed out on so much. The scholarships are a brilliant programme and the IGDA give their scholars so much more than a trip to GDC with all the different opportunities out with the conference.

What are you most looking forward to at GDC?

I am very excited to meet some of the creators who have inspired me throughout my life and to see them discuss their passion at the various talks. Perhaps even more alluring is the prospect of discovering new developers who are thriving in small independent collectives around the world and learn about their process. As well as independent developers I am also fascinated by virtual/augmented/mixed reality and games for education. Hopefully at GDC I can get insight into the bleeding edge of these technologies and research fields. I am also looking forward to exploring the city, attending some parties and perhaps finding an arcade to sink some quarters into.

Is there a specific goal you’re hoping to achieve at GDC?

After graduation I plan to join a local collective along with two long time collaborators. We hope to sustain ourselves by creating and distributing small games finding funding and work for hire when necessary. Although we have spent time researching our options and approach I know GDC will give me the opportunity to meet creators already in collectives and learn about the challenges they have faced and overcome. By the end of the conference I hope to have a network of developers in similar set ups as well as a new understanding of how to make ends meet as an independent today.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I urge anyone who has begun making games or studying in the hopes of joining a studio to find the nearest place you can volunteer. Volunteering is a brilliant way to meet new people, learn new skills and most of all help out in any small way you can. Through volunteering I’ve met some of my closest friends, collaborators and mentors and been to more events than I can count

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