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Industry Profile: Tanya Krzywinska exploring new markets for games

“Lara Croft revolutionised game-playing for girls. It was the first time we had a female character to play. It was a smart move: she looked good for boys to play, and it was nice for girls to play a kick-ass, action heroine,“ she says.

The Vice President of the Digital Games Research Association, a prodigious author and Reader in Film and Television Studies in the School of Arts at Brunel University, Middx, she is leading a new Master of Arts (MA) in Digital Games: Theory and Design, in October 2006.

It is aimed at those who want to go into designing games, or as a project manager. A particular strength of the new course is that students will be encouraged to break new ground and attract new audiences to the world of digital games..

“There are many markets that are simply not being served,“ maintains Dr Krzywinska. “Young girls especially, are excluded, as games are undoubtedly geared towards boys. There are also others, such as educational markets, older women, older men, intellectuals, and,“ she adds, “people who just aren't interested in fragging the hell out of a Nazi, nor frustrated, wannabee-Porsche-owner driving games.“

The MA is open to students without any technical knowledge of Maya or 3D Studio Max. “We're going right back to basics. We'll be asking: 'What is a game?' 'What industry is calling for?' 'What makes a good game?' 'What is game design?'“

Also teaching on the course will be Steve Jackson, founder of Games Workshop, and the author of interactions fictions such as “Sorcery!“ Game design professionals will also hold workshops.

Many games are designed to established, or limited patterns, Dr Krzywinska observes. She is strongly in favour of experimenting with original ideas.

“Games companies are presently focused on creating greater graphical realism. They remake an old game format and give it a new lease of life by making it more realistic.

“We will go back to basics and look at what makes a good game, rather than letting graphics dictate the format, or simply replicating what's successful and happening at the moment.“

Dr Krzywinska became interested in digital games while studying for her doctorate in film theory at the University of North London. At the same time, she worked in the marketing department of a digital equipment company, where she had to test out proto-type games.

Her interests include the academic study of Massively Multi Player Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPG), paganism in the World of Warcraft, Buffy the Vampire Slayer (she is on the editorial board of the on-line Journal of Buffy Studies, “Slayage“) and representations of women in digital games.

Dr Krzywinska is the co-author of “Tomb Raiders and Space Invaders: Forms and Meanings of Videogames“ (I B Tauris 2004); and co-editor of “ScreenPlay: cinema/ videogames/ interfaces and videogame/ player/text“ (Wallflower Press, 2002).

MA in Digital Games: Theory and Design, in October 2006, at the School of Arts Brunel University, London is one year full-time, or two years part-time. Enquiries to; or