Last month, during Unite 2023 in Amsterdam, we welcomed educational leaders at the forefront of teaching Unity from universities across Europe, Australia, Africa, and North America. These innovative educators blend theoretical knowledge with practical, real-world experience.
Through our discussions, a notable trend emerged: Higher education institutions are incorporating paid internships into four-year degree programs outside the standard summer break internship. For example, Hans Wichman from Saxion Applied University in the Netherlands, integrates yearlong paid internships for students into the Creative Media and Game Technology program. Similarly, Saihesh Maharaj from Midlands Computer Training Centre in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, offers students paid work experience at a VR company founded by the college. These initiatives not only enhance academic learning but also ensure that graduates are prepared for the workforce with comprehensive portfolios and practical experience.
In short, learning and earning at the same time is becoming a best practice to prepare future graduates for 21st-century careers. This approach isn’t just limited to students in Unity programs at universities; it can also be part of alternatives to four-year degree programs.
What happens when creators don’t have access to high-quality Unity programs? Let’s examine one creator’s story to understand.
I was lucky enough to meet with Egodi Beloved Ulinwa, also known as Love, from Portland, Oregon, to learn how a combination of discipline, brotherly support, and hard work could be an alternative to a four-year degree.
“Back in high school, I started a creative collective with a few friends. We called it ‘Creative Crew’ and began making games. It sort of dispersed after graduation when I went to college for accounting. I didn’t really like accounting, so I switched to computer science and still wasn’t happy. I really just wanted to get my creative juices flowing, so I called my friend Ben, who was part of the original Creative Crew, to see if we could reignite our work.”
Love left school and stumbled upon an unexpected source of inspiration closer to home – his younger brother, Liight. For a 14-year-old, Liight demonstrated remarkable artistic talent. Love began nurturing his brother’s artistic abilities, steering him towards game art and animation.
“There has never been anyone in my life who pushed me to take the next step and make it real,” Love recalled. “I wanted to be that for Liight, and from that day forward it was Liight, Ben, and me working on designing our game together.”
Love and Liight started putting their designs into the Unity Editor and, according to them, “it looked terrible.” They realized they needed stronger skills, so they started teaching themselves everything, including game design, art, producing, and programming.
Their self-taught approach included networking, getting tips from industry professionals, remaking their game several times based on user feedback, and learning for free through Unity Learn tutorials.
Love recalls when Unity launched live classes during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic. “I was on it every day, watching videos with my brother [and] learning how to optimize our game. Unity Learn made a major impact on our lives. Money has always been a hard part of game development, and having free classes was incredibly helpful to our work.”
Today, Love runs Kaizen Creed with funding from Kickstarter, Microsoft, Sony, and other grants. The studio’s first game, 5 Force Fighters, follows five teenagers with powers granted to them by a mysterious figure, as they attempt to stop an evil villain from enacting his tyranny. The game’s audience is youth of color who adore anime and fantastical narratives – basically, the Creative Crew. “Games never really center people like us as heroes so we wanted to make sure we created something that spoke to players like us.”
“We wanted to make sure we created something that spoke to players like us.”
Passion, persistence, and the power of community are turning dreams into reality for Kaizen Creed. They’re charting a course from high school creativity to the cusp of gaming stardom. Love and his team are now actively looking for a publisher – if you have any leads, reach out. After all, it’s the power of our community.
We look forward to sharing additional creator stories with you in the New Year. If you’re curious to hear even more about the changing workforce and how Unity is a driver for social impact, check out my past columns on future generations, AI, or global impact.