Semone Jai Bunnag – MA Games Design

Portrait of Semone Jai Bunnag

Semone (Jai) Bunnag is a current student on the MA Games Design course at London College of Communication.

Born in Thailand and with a Degree in Architecture, Jai has thrown himself into the course and has big ambitions for the future.

We caught up with him to find out about why he chose his course, his time at LCC so far, and his advice for new students.

Hi Jai! Could you let us know why you choose to study the MA Games Design at LCC?

After finishing my Architecture Degree from the Rhode Island School of Design, my thesis there led me to games design as a way of further departing from physical space into virtual space. I will be one of the first graduates from the MA course, as it is brand new.

While I felt like it being a brand new course brought its own risks, I was looking for a 1-2-year degree and had a feeling that a newly-created course with a small number of people would allow me to get the most tutor-to-student time, and would also mean that I would have a heavy influence to direct the course and consequently what I wanted out of the course.

Screenshot of Escapist's Strategey game by Semone Bunnag & Tom Battey
ESCAPIST'S STRATEGY – Semone Bunnag & Tom Battey for Architecture of Fairy Taless, 2016
Semone Bunnag & Tom Battey

What’s your favourite thing about LCC?

I've had to confront my biggest weakness as an artist through LCC – my lack of drive to create if no professor or project was pushing me, and I think I have successfully pushed through by forcing myself to become my own generative force.

The best thing about our course at LCC is a combination of being in London and having a hands-off teaching method. There are so many student design competitions in London, and the teaching method gives time and space for students of different departments and schools to band together and make something great.

I did not have the time to really pursue these venues for displaying my work before, but as a student in London that opportunity is palpable.

Screenshot of Titani Arum game by Semone Bunnag & Tianyi Tang
TITANI ARUM – Semone Bunnag & Tianyi Tang for British Library, Off The Map, Shakespeare, 2016
Semone Bunnag & Tianyi Tang

What’s the most interesting project you’ve worked on through your course so far?

I am fully immersed currently in TACENDA – an ambient mobile experience which is a collaboration between 6 students primarily from MA courses at LCC. None of us have any experience in games, and this will be my first game ever, however it's been accepted into the Dare to be Digital [] games competition.

We only have a year here in the MA course, so I seriously threw myself into Games Design. From a complete novice at programming, 3D modelling, game design, mobile development, UX and UI – just for this one product. I don't think I've ever learned anything so quickly completely outside of my natural skillset.

It began as a project during the MA Collaborative Unit but due to the scale of the competition me and the team have just worked through it ever since.

Image of Exit puzzle board hame by Semone Bunnag.
EXIT – Dynamic Puzzle Board – Semone Bunnag, 2015
Semone Bunnag

What important piece of advice would you give to students thinking of studying this course?

I've said it to a couple of prospective MA students already: know what you want, and demand a lot. From the course, from yourself and from your tutors.

The strength and weakness of this course is its flexibility and lack of fixed structure since it is still new, but what that means is that its first few students will pave the way for the future of the course. You will have the ability to guide and mould the course to fit your specific needs in a way that no fully settled course can facilitate – if you demand, the faculty and school can respond because there is no precedent yet. At the same time if you sit satisfied with however much or little you have, the course will do little to whip you into shape.

For me, this is exciting. I don't feel like I am being led by the course or school at all, most definitely the opposite.

Screenshot of TACENDA game by Semone Bunnag, Edward Perryer, Qiao Yu, Belmin Pilevneli, Tom Battey, Oliver Wegmuller, for Dare to be Digital, 2016
TACENDA – Semone Bunnag, Edward Perryer, Qiao Yu, Belmin Pilevneli, Tom Battey, Oliver Wegmuller, for Dare to be Digital, 2016
Semone Bunnag, Edward Perryer, Qiao Yu, Belmin Pilevneli, Tom Battey, Oliver Wegmuller

If you could have worked on any game, which game would it have been and why?

Monument Valley. The team's games design department is in London and quite frankly was one of the reasons I chose to come here. It responds to my internal calling as an architect, but as a creator of fantasy and dreams at the same time. It's mobile, beautiful, subspace that exists as an artefact that fits your pocket.

And what are you hoping to take from your time on the course into your future career?

Decide what you want, throw yourself at it, and get what you decided upon. There's only one way into the industry, and it isn't happening if I wait to be noticed.