The University of Otago’s English and Linguistics Programme has appointed a new staff member to teach game studies and game writing.
Lisa Blakie (Kāi Tahu, Waitaha, Pākehā), formerly of Runaway Play and currently co-director of her own game development studio Atawhai Interactive, will take up the position of Professional Practice Fellow in game studies from February.
Her teaching will focus mainly on narrative design and writing for games and interactive media.
The role is set up to offer a bridge between the university and local industry, with Ms Blakie continuing to lead Atawhai Interactive.
“My kaupapa in this role is to champion the creative possibilities within the video game industry and community and ensure students can see clear pathways into either industry or community or both,” she says.
“Making games is not just coding and art, the creation process is host to career pathways that require skills taught from within the English and Linguistics department, and being able to connect and uplift students interested in these pathways is a huge priority for me.”
Ms Blakie is particularly excited to apply her creative practice in narrative design and indigenous game studies to potential research outcomes within the university, in collaboration with iwi and the wider game industry.
The appointment marks the culmination of a three-year partnership between the New Zealand Centre of Digital Excellence (CODE) and Otago’s English and Linguistics Programme, which saw the successful pilot of New Zealand’s first creative writing paper dedicated to video games.
Part of CODE’s mission is supporting curriculum development and facilitating employment opportunities in the game industry for Otago graduates. CODE has also supported employment pipelines within the tertiary education sector.
Head of English and Linguistics Associate Professor David Ciccoricco says: “We’ve always been quite invested in the future of literature in the digital age and video games are beyond a doubt a significant part of the picture now.
“For this appointment, we were able to leverage our track record of 15 years of teaching in digital literary studies, producing graduates with a range of talent attractive to today’s industry, both games and interactive media more broadly,” he says.