Studying Games Design as a Mature Student (Pandemic Edition)

July 1, 2021, by Veera Warman, Brunel University

Hey all, my name is Veera and I’m a mature student studying Games Design at Brunel. As I’m writing this, my assignments are done and the first year is coming to a close, which allows for some reflection on the challenges and successes of the past eight months.

At the beginning of 2020, I had just made the big decision to leave working life behind, for now, and fully dedicate myself to learning and developing my skills in a new career for the next three years. I was super motivated, dreaming of all the game jams, academic lectures, heated design debates with other students, networking events, industry talks and making games until the wee hours of the morning with likeminded people.

Little did I know we’d be going into various levels of lockdowns and restrictions due to a worldwide pandemic just a couple of months later and stay there for the entirety of my first year at university. Even despite all that, I got to do all those things at Brunel and then some.

Game Design has fortunately been one of those subjects where collaboration and teamwork hasn’t been hindered too much by the transition to remote working. I bet anyone who plays games in any capacity is already comfortable with online communication and organisation.

It has certainly been a year like no other, as my university experience has mostly happened through online lectures, getting seriously organised with managing my time and transforming my living space to a productive study spot, and having my entire social life centred around too many chat groups to keep track of. It has been quite a lifestyle shift from my previous life revolving around a nine to five job, but I’ve enjoyed it all the same thanks to having possibly the best course mates and tutors one could ask for on a year like this.

When I applied to university I wasn’t entirely sure how I would take to the life of a full-time student, but now that the first year is over I’m realising it’s not really all that much different from working life.

That transition has certainly been helped by joining a couple of societies, making friends with other mature students, and starting a job as a Widening Access Student Ambassador. I’ve even had the opportunity to pick up learning Japanese through the Modern Languages program at Brunel. The university has been wonderful at providing support and guidance through this year, and any doubts I had about student life prior to starting have been all but erased. Turns out I was worrying over nothing, anyway!

In many ways this first year has been a year of finding my groove with studying. They say that if you do what you love you won’t work a day in your life, and as incredibly cheesy as that sounds, that has been the case for me.

Going to university later in life may seem daunting as an idea, but in many ways you are also in a position to really get as much out of it as you can, perhaps even more than you might have done when you were younger. It has been genuinely enriching to study a subject I’m passionate about and it has been rewarding in ways I hadn’t experienced before to see my hard work paying off.

I can’t wait to start my second year and see what the future holds.