Project Duration: 1 year
Phoenix Interactive was a simulated game design studio created to foster skills development and work experience for Coventry University undergraduate students.
Working on the development of digital and analogue games as part of a multidisciplinary team, the Phoenix Interactive initiative encouraged cross-disciplinary learning through innovative educational practices.
The studio functioned as a hub, around which students, staff, and clients from creative and technical disciplines could collaborate to deliver high-quality interactive projects. Grounded in education, the outputs of the studio leveraged game-based learning methodologies and frugal education principles to deliver innovative learning experiences through playful and gameful interactions.
The studio was designed to accommodate staff and students from a multitude of subject disciplines and competencies. These individuals formed design and development teams consisting of students from the faculty of Arts and Humanities and staff from the GameChangers team within Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab.
To test feasibility of the simulated studio concept, members of the DMLL’s Applied Innovation team directed a group of undergraduate student volunteers across a nine month period to support the development of an internationally funded educational mobile game.
The art team were comprised of seven second and third year undergraduate students from the faculty of Arts and Humanities, working together to deliver environment, user-interface, and character artwork for ‘Balance Trucks’; a mobile game that takes road height data from an application called SmartRoadSense and uses it to procedurally generate in-game terrain.
SmartRoadSense is a crowd-sensing system used to continuously monitor the surface status of the international road network, and is a subsidiary of the Crowd4Roads Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation project of the EU commission, of which Coventry University is a partner institution.
The Phoenix Interactive pilot project was a resounding success, with several participating students securing full-time employment supported by their portfolio of work and skills obtained throughout the process. Examples include a full-time junior UI artist position at Codemasters, one of the largest game studios in the UK; a student activator position in the Coventry University’s Disruptive Media Learning Lab creating artwork for the Beaconing international EU-funded research project; and a full-time design position at a toy company.
All work produced by the students contributed to assessment within their respective undergraduate courses. The course director provided positive feedback as regards to engagement, interaction, and quality of work as a result of taking part in the process. The course director also welcomed future iterations of the project for subsequent undergraduates to take part in.
Through a mix of passionate teaching, high-quality resources, extensive industry experience, and hybridised delivery methods, Phoenix Interactive has the potential to create a new model for the acquisition and development of strong communication, leadership, and digital skills for undergraduate students.
Expanding the pilot project into a physical studio, with the flexibility to grow in both scale and ambition, offers a unique opportunity to deliver a radical and innovative approach to teaching and learning, with the potential to create iterations of the model to support students across a wide variety of subject disciplines.
“The students have been excitedly showing me their progress on this and it looks great. I’ve never seen such engagement in an external project like this with students.”