(2009) Skills for Creativity in Games Design: A comparison between academic and practitioner conceptions of creativity in Games Design

Creativity enhancement is a key feature of a quality undergraduate design education. Established upon the tradition of an Atelier model of learning, design education still maintains values and pedagogies that emphasize the need for low Student Staff Ratios, one-to-one tutorials, small group critiques, and significant quantities of individual formative feedback and guidance (Swann, 2002). For the most part, this is because much of the creativity enhancement that takes places occurs at a tacit level. Traditionally, it has been through the ‘crit’ and tutorial that tacit knowledge seems best exchanged.

Our successful research bid to the Higher Education Academy (HEA) early in 2008, however, aimed to understand this tacit knowledge from an experimental research perspective. Though the control of various research bias, such as appropriate sampling strategies, sufficient participant numbers, participant anonymity and placing analysis within current theoretical research on creativity, the aim was to understand further these tacit aspects of creativity in Games Design. Specifically, the project has considered how conceptions of domain skills may differ for Games Design academics in comparison with full-time Games Design practitioners.

The project involved the collaboration between the Art, Design and Media subject centre for the HEA, the Centre for Employability through the Humanities (CETH), UCLan’s Department of Design, and ‘Sandbox’: the new Centre for Creative Digital Industries. In addition, the project required twenty practitioners and academics from the Games Design community.

Through this project, our aim was to further engage with controversial academic debates on the influence of ‘domain relevant skills’ in relation to creativity enhancement (Sternberg, Grigorenko & Singer, 2004), and build upon our existing research on the Audio Visual Industry. Furthermore, this work adds to the discussion surrounding skills acquisition and training within the creative industries (Design Council & Creative and Cultural Skills, 2006) and debates surrounding the role of National Occupational Standards and the development of Sector Skill Council accredited courses; all of which have, and will continue to have, implications for Higher Education and graduate employability in Design, and Games Design in particular.