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Stephanie games her future

Playing games was how Stephanie Harris would unwind from work, and while they’ve always been her passion, she never thought it would be her profession. 

Like many school leavers, Stephanie followed the familiar path of enrolling in university to study, but after two years, it didn't quite click for her.

"I left university and looked into other career opportunities, but when I couldn't join the defence force for health reasons, I decided to become a chef," explained Stephanie.

"But, after training professionally and working in a kitchen for two years, I asked myself, 'what do I want to do in life,' and the answer was game design."

Initially, Stephanie thought a career in gaming would be limiting, but after researching the opportunities available, she was blown away by the industry's many career paths.

"There are so many opportunities in game design. Game art and coding are one thing, but there's also computer programming, working in the film industry, texture design, building models and special effects. The possibilities are endless."

When researching how to get qualified, her stepmother suggested TAFE Queensland's Bachelor of Digital Design (Game Design) (ARB302), as the course taught everything she wanted to learn.

"I applied, got accepted and moved from Tasmania to Brisbane to start studying. When I began studying, I knew I'd learn to make models, but there's so much more to it. From sound design, lighting design, textures, and 3D and 2D games to emerging technologies like virtual reality. It's full-on, but I'm loving it!"

Delivered in partnership with the University of Canberra, her degree is developing Stephanie's specialist skills and knowledge in game art, game design, and interactive digital media theory and production.

Also accelerating Stephanie's learning are her experienced teacher, like-minded classmates, and the industry-standard equipment and facilities that see her fully supported to become a designer of tomorrow.

"We have an Alienware Gaming computer lab where we use 3D Max, Photoshop, and Substance Painter for 3D and 2D modelling and texturing. We then put our designs into programs called Unity and Unreal Engine to bring them to life."

While the course develops her understanding of concept development to game design in the same way used in leading game studios, Stephanie is also gaining invaluable skills, knowledge and confidence for her future career.

"It was challenging when I started, but my teacher has been wonderful. He answers questions during classes, makes himself available over email and discord 24/7 and always comes back to his student within the hour."

"He's so passionate, supportive and understanding of everyone's strengths and weaknesses and helps us to get a comprehensive understanding of game design. Because he's still connected to the industry, he'll send us job vacancies and industry insights from his contacts."

Each day, Stephanie looks forward to formal and informal group work, where she tackles challenging assignments that stretch and enhances her game design knowledge.

"From concept art, 3D modelling and sculpting, 3D texturing, animation, and real-time rendering, I'm learning much about game design."

"Studying at TAFE Queensland is like being part of a large support system. My classmates keep me motivated, clarify things for me, and help with any issues. The class is one big group of friends, and the collaborative environment is a wonderful place to study," said Stephanie.

Now in her third year of study, Stephanie has found her game design niche and plans to specialize in 2D art and writing game narratives.

"This course allowed me to try a bit of everything, and I didn't know I'd click with 2D art the way I have. I thought I'd be a 3D designer, but designing models, rigging or programming isn't my passion."

"But thanks to studying here, I know what gaming area I want to specialize in my career, and I'm confident I'll be successful."