Zhan Gurskis – BA (Hons) Games Design
Originally from Daugavpils in Latvia, Zhan Gurskis is a games designer and developer who studied BA (Hons) Games Design at London College of Communication – graduating in 2014.
Why did you choose to study the BA (Hons) Games Design course at LCC?
Initially I was drawn to the course description on the website – but an interview with the course director, Roy Caseley, really solidified my thoughts. From that moment onwards I knew that I wanted to develop video games.
What are you working on/where are you working at the moment?
Recently I've been participating in a game jam for the charity War Child. Previous to that I had a videogame – Mindfork – published on the App Store for a Finish company called Zaubug. On this project I worked with Nicola Zamboni and Anna Lapinsh, who also both graduated from LCC.
Can you describe the way you work?
I have a very strong focus on user experience. As soon as a project is past the idea phase, that's my main consideration.
As a games designer, I craft interactive experiences for others to engage in, hence it's vital I go through numerous stages of playtesting. Throughout the iterations, I change gameplay according to the feedback to increase usability. In a sense, projects I work on often shape themselves.
I take lots of concepts for my games from the book I'm reading at the time – be it about game design, psychology or linguistics, there's always something relevant.
Furthermore, I believe that a game can never be a finished product. It always remains as a work in progress.
What three things couldn't you be creative without?
Community, feedback and positivity.
What are your future plans and ambitions?
In the short-term I'd like to work in a team to develop video games. In 5 to 10 years I'm aiming to open my own game studio.
What three words would you use to best describe LCC?
Open, creative and collaborative.
What did you enjoy most about LCC?
I really enjoyed the strong sense of community. Our class was constantly buzzing with fresh ideas and opinions. It was the perfect environment to expand our knowledge and skills. There was immense support from our tutors and peers and there was always a deep sense of pride and meaning in our work.
Most importantly, when I graduated and started working I felt really comfortable with my developed skill set and knowledge as I was practically ready to publish a video game as soon as I left LCC.
Have you been back to LCC since graduating?
I still have really close links with the BA (Hons) Game Design course at LCC. I've been invited to participate in interviews to give a better insight on the course to help it develop and I also had an experience assisting to judge students’ coursework.
My bond with LCC is perpetual, because the LCC community extends beyond university. In 2014 for my final project I collaborated with another graduate, Nicola Zamboni. Together we developed a game prototype called Vine Venture. During the Summer Show, Vine Venture received an overwhelming response from players and industry professionals. LCC gave us lots of support to continue working on the project. You can see more about it on Facebook.
LCC has a very affable atmosphere, really encouraging us graduates to stay in contact with our peers and tutors.
What piece of advice would you give to new students?
Treat your time at university as an opportunity to define your skills. It's a great environment for networking and collaboration. Project- wise, I'd advise to really focus on the concept and avoid overcomplication. Learn from your mistakes. And know when to relax.
Where in London do you go when you need a little inspiration?
I tend to go for a walk, exploring places I don’t usually go to. London is a very active city – even in familiar places there is always something new, something different to discover. I find that even a short walk can give me lots of ideas.