By Emma Anderson, currently studying the MA Creativity: Innovation and Business Strategy programme
Being a part-time student has many perks: more time to think about your dissertation proposal, a lighter workload, and time to develop a career as you study. However, it also means you must wait impatiently for some of the most exciting modules on your course to come around. For me, the Ideas, Generation, the Creation Process, and Value Chain Models module was just that. The EAFM002 students were asked to create a game to help develop value chain models and ideation processes for a local company. The local companies collaborating with the module were NGNG, RAAM, Red Panda, Book Cycle, and Hyde and Seek. At the end of the module students were asked to use the Maketank in Exeter to host an open event to share their ideas to the local businesses and community. A few weeks later, on the 26th of November, they were asked to share their ideas again for marking.
The concept of game design creation and studying a module that champions ‘fun’ and ‘play’ seemed idyllic to me. I took the time to head over to Maketank to look at the creative space, talk to my fellow classmates, and have a sneak preview of the work, I too, would be undertaking within the next academic year.
With one day to go until the open event the creative exhibition space was buzzing with energy. Caffeine-fuelled students debated over final details, painted logos on the walls, and sketched out conclusive designs. Many of my classmates were keen to show me what they had been working on: extensive PowerPoint presentations with over 60 different animations to create a game proto-type, professional logos, and sleek branding.
The Maketank space itself uses an empty shop front on Paris St. The downstairs is sometimes used as a rehearsal space for the local theatre community. The upstairs is a playground for MA students. The smell of paint pens permeates the air. The chorus of business chatter bounces off the walls. Artists lamps illuminate hurried sketches.
I asked my classmate Lynda to share some of her thoughts on the module. When asked what the space was being used for, she explained that they were “…helping local businesses improve by designing a game to improve the business by creating a value chain”. Over the sounds of hammering and typing she said “We are using a creative workspace to collaborate together… here there is an entire open space where you can play, have fun, and be creative… if you are working in an open space, sometimes a bit of distraction is good… a good surprising outcome will come”. Her concluding statement on the module was “I would definitely recommend this course to other students because we are having fun every day and we are learning new things every day and we collaborate with different people from different disciplines. After finishing a session, you go home and reflect on the day and you realise what you have gained. You gain so much from it without realising you are; through the process of having fun”.
I also spoke with module leader Olya Petrakova about her thoughts on how the module had been to run for the first time: “Everything is a process of development, the module will develop and improve, this is our own process of prototyping and seeing how we develop it. We put a lot into this module”. When asked how students were responding to the module, she said “They are brave, and they are I think very courageous because learning about being creative means embracing being uncomfortable sometimes.”
That evening the students opened up Maketank to local businesses and Exeter’s community. Trust and respect are thrust up the students and in response they interact with the task at hand and with Exeter and its citizens. In this way, the module shows a level of maturity and sophistication I hadn’t experience during my undergraduate degree.
EAFM002 is a hands-on stepping-stone module to several different careers managing, curating, and creating within the arts. It offers a real-life practical scenario in which students are given the opportunity to organise and pitch their ideations. It appeared to me like living the kind of career I want to be involved in then I finish my MA. It is for this reason that I wait with anticipation to act out my own dream job by participating in this module.
Olya Petrakova and Michael Pearce pose during work in progress at Maketank
Olya runs the module at Maketank with Michael Pearce, senior lecturer in the Drama Department at the university. Olya was happy for me to share her picture with David in the creative space in front of one group of students work in progress.