As fellow for Access and Admissions at St John’s College, I am delighted to welcome you to the launch of Inspire Digital. This term, we would like you to join our team of Oxford academics, subject specialists and industry professionals to help answer the question ‘How to design a successful video game’. Many of you will have already started on the journey to answering this question on your visit to us here in Oxford, or during the Inspire Programme sessions in your school, however we welcome everyone to get involved in the debate.
We hope to show the many and varied perspectives on, and approaches to, computer game design. St John’s Economics tutor, Dr Kate Doornik, focuses on revenue and profitability; St John’s English tutor, Professor Carolyne Larrington, thinks about story-telling and characterisation; Professor Andrew Przybylski (Director of Research at the Oxford Internet Institute) and Amy Orben (Lecturer in Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford) think about the addictive nature of games; Maren Fichter (Linguistics graduate, University of Oxford) discusses using languages to build characters and worlds. As you will see, a simple question can reveal many different answers depending on who you ask.
We also hear from two successful gaming experts about their personal journeys into the games industry. James Hyde, a Maths graduate from St John’s, who is a build engineer at the UK’s biggest games studio, Creative Assembly (his first project was Halo Wars 2); Jasper Russell, a Physics graduate from Merton College, who now works with the Oxford-based independent games design company Rebellion.
If video games are not for you then there are plenty of other challenges on offer. Why not try out one of the puzzles set by mathematicians Dr David Seifert and Dr Tom Crawford, or think about the physics of making a cup of tea with Professor Tony Weidberg? Professor Richard Compton and his research group have created a series of chemistry brainteasers, Professor Ian Sobey tests your engineering knowledge and French Lecturer Marie Elven wants to know how you would cope if you suddenly found yourself stranded in a foreign land where you did not speak the language.
We are also delighted to have the involvement of Liz Rayment from Cheney School here in Oxford, Rosalind Jack from Woodkirk Academy in Wakefield and Barrie Hall from Richard Huish College in Somerset. These secondary school teachers were willing to give up part of their hard-earned vacation to set you some tricky questions aimed at GCSE or A-Level students, and they point towards reading material that has worked well in their classrooms. Solutions to problems and new articles and links will be regularly posted on the site and there are many prizes to be won!
To find more great events like these around Oxford and elsewhere in the UK, we have an online timetable you can look through. You can also use this site as a portal for information about the application process, the admissions tests, preparing for interviews, videos of our current undergraduate students and much more.
Let us know what you think about the website by contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are also happy to answer any questions you might have about St John’s College or applying to study at Oxford, and have a number of Student Ambassadors, as well as members of the Access and Admissions Office who are available to help.
Look out for our new edition coming out next term – ‘What is the power of a volcano?’. Why not let us know what articles you would like to see? If you are a teacher, perhaps you would like to contribute to the next set of tricky questions.
We hope you enjoy the first issue.
Dr Sandra Campbell (Fellow for Access and Admissions, Tutor in Biomedical Sciences and Medicine)