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Leading Midlands college announces pioneering new gaming mentorship programme

A leading Midlands college has announced a pioneering new mentorship programme to support female students looking to progress into the gaming industry.

Royal Leamington Spa College has launched its ‘EqualPlay’ initiative which will see female students paired up with industry professionals.

The college is based in the heart of Silicon Spa, a moniker for Leamington Spa, one of the biggest cluster of games developers in the UK.

The initiative will not only provide students with advice and support from those working in the industry, but also encourage equality and diversity in the industry.

A total of six female mentors have signed up to the programme, all of which are former students from the college now working in the industry.

They will be paired up with students from the college’s Games Art BA (Hons) degree course who they will meet with on a monthly basis to provide guidance and support. 

Guy Thomas, Dean of Higher Education at WCG, said:

“Gaming is an extremely male-dominated industry, but has a very diverse consumer base.

“We want to not only encourage our female students to progress in the industry, but also ensure that the end user feels more represented.

“We are based right at the heart of Silicon Spa, so have an opportunity to make a real difference in the industry.

“We have had some extremely talented female students on our games art course who have produced outstanding work, and this is our opportunity to bring some of them back to inspire our current cohort.

“The mentors will each work with a small number of mentees to provide advice and guidance about the industry and the various career paths available.

“It will give students a direct link to an industry professional who they can call upon to discuss everything from the very latest developments in gaming to advice on employment opportunities.

“Mentorship programmes often open doors for the mentees, so it could result in fantastic opportunities for our students.

“Despite it being focussed on women and girls, the initiative will see everyone from underrepresented groups, such as those from underprivileged backgrounds and ethnic minorities, have the opportunity to receive mentoring.

“The mentors will also engage with our wider cohort of games students, right from Level 3 through to Level 6, to inspire them all, regardless of gender, and show women in positions to which they aspire.”

The Games Art BA (Hons) degree course is delivered through WCG’s Higher Education arm Warwickshire College and University Centre (WCUC).

Amber Silcock, a producer at Excalibur Games, graduated from WCG in 2019.

She is responsible for live games on the Steam and Epic platforms as well as on consoles, manages the company’s development and localisation teams, is responsible for defining milestones and roadmaps for major developments and manages external quality assurance.

Amber, who is from Leamington, wanted to support EqualPlay after being both a mentee and mentor herself through a different initiative and seeing the benefits.

She said: “The games industry can be a very male dominated profession. It’s improving, but it’s so important to support young females looking to progress into the industry.

“I never had a big interest in gaming and actually wanted to be an animator, but it was studying games art which saw me fall in love with 3D modelling and environment art.

“My course at WCG was pivotal in where I am today, so I’m honoured to be able to give something back and support to this initiative.

“I’ve been both a mentee and a mentor myself and know how valuable it is to have contacts in what is an ever-changing, fast-paced industry.

“I will be looking to inspire and encourage the mentees, make them aware of any current industry challenges and also provide long-term support should they move into a role within the industry following their studies.”

Further information about the Games Art BA (Hons) degree is available by clicking here.

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