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18th August 2020

We caught up with Stafford College's Curriculum Leader in Animation, Games & Concept Art, Mark Cruxton, to chat about his experiences before joining the college and his advice for anyone wanting to get into the Games and Animation industry.

Q: How did you first get into the Games industry?

A: I started as a Web Developer & Graphic Designer and gradually migrated into Games. I started with creating Flash web-based games for sports companies such as Adidas, Mammoth, and the MLS.

Q: What was your first job in the industry?

A: My first paid job was for Victoria Heating & Ventilating a local steel works company, I created an app to help companies select products and order them.

Q: What are some of your favourite games?

A: My favourite game of all time is Hogs of War on the PS1 voiced by Rik Mayall. But I love both video and modern-day board games. Other honourable mentions should be Final Fantasy 7, Metal Gear Solid, Sensible world of soccer, This War of Mine, Total War, Lords of Waterdeep and Blood Rage.

Q: Who and what inspires you?

A: Everything and anything when it comes to themes, the more unusual the better, Standard war games have been done to death. When it comes to game play new and different mechanics are where my passion is. I have recently been playing the digital adaptation of Gloomhaven, a Dungeon Crawler which has a superb move and battle mechanic.

Q: How did you get into teaching?

I initially did some guest lecturing of web design for artists and progressed on from there.

Q: What sort of roles have your previous students gone on to do?

A: Students from the course have gone on to be a massive success in many fields, from winning Oscars with VFX and animation for films such as Gravity and Disney’s Jungle Book, to creating AAA games like GTAV. We also have students who have gone on to become Vehicle Artists, VR Games Designers, Illustrators & Animators.

Q: What challenges have you faced in your career and how have you overcome them?

A: The main challenge is keeping up to date with new technology, the Games industry moves at a rapid pace and trying to keep up with new releases can often be a struggle. The biggest challenge of recent years was when Unity changed its scripting language and we all had to start from scratch…

Q: Tell us what you love most about the work you do…

A: The collaborative nature of Games Design and the passion students show for Games & Animation is amazing. They are so enthusiastic about the subject which makes it very easy to teach. Oh and I have to play lots of games…it’s my job!

Q: What advice would you give someone considering pursuing a career in the Games industry?

A: Firstly, experience things. You cannot have great ideas if you have not personally experienced life, you will just end up making a copy of something you have already played. Secondly you must have a desire to make it. It is a very popular sector of the creative industries, you must work harder than everyone else, try to be better, if you feel that you struggle in an area work hard at getting better. I remember a few years ago a student who was exceptional at 3D modelling was asked by another student how he was so good, he replied “ I go home and create 3D models for 5 hours every night, and have done since we started”, so after 18 months he was very good at it. It takes practice, practice, and hard work.

Q: What do you enjoy most about working at the College?

A: The creative atmosphere in the arts is great and has a buzz about it. When students are being imaginative and feeding of each other in a group environment, the room has a feel of excitement about what can be produced.

If you're interested in studying Games Design or any other creative arts course at either Stafford or Newcastle College, visit https://nscg.ac.uk/study/view-all?s=&course_department%5B%5D=285 for more information.

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