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UCLan Games Design student helps Dragons Den's Kirsty with new website game

Course: BA(Hons) Games Design

Encouraging children to eat healthier is a hot topic, so it seemed fitting that Kirsty Henshaw’s new interactive website game ‘Hungry Hedgehogs’ does just that.

Kirsty, who was successful on Dragons’ Den in 2011 and received backing for her business Worthenshaws from Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones, approached the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) to see if they could help with the development of a website game aimed at children.

Kirsty comments: “When I was developing my new website, ‘Kirstys’, I wanted to create something aimed at children to make them think a little more about what they eat. I’ve recently come back to UCLan and am running my business out of the business units in the Media Factory building so I thought where better to look than UCLan and its games design students.”

Through course leader, Bev Bush, a live brief was developed and second year games design students pitched for the work. BA(Hons) Games Design student Saija Sipilä worked with Kirsty over a 2-month period to develop characters that would appeal to children, but also embraced Kirsty’s business ethos.

Kirsty added: “The hungry hedgehogs characters are fab, they are really modern and through working with Saija they really came to life, they might even look familiar! Saija really understood the creative brief and I was blown away by the standard of work.”

Working with UCLan’s Designlab initiative, Kirsty enlisted the help of a talented programmer to help develop the game in Flash. The music was composed by Chris Bush, an MA music student from York St. John University. Saija comments: “It was an excellent opportunity to work on a real project with real people and real deadlines. The directions were really clear and I felt I understood the needs of the client well."

Kirsty added: “It has been great working with UCLan, by working with a university brings your business so much more. I want to thank the team for their hard work in getting the job done before the deadlines! They were all so efficient.”

Course leader Bev Bush added: “This is one of many live briefs this year where students on the Games Design course at UCLan have had the opportunity to design for a local business and work with real clients. I have mentored the students through several of these projects with support from UCLan’s employability and enterprise service.

“We are lucky enough to have some funding so students are paid an hourly rate for the project and learn how it feels to produce work on a freelance basis. It’s really helpful for student work experience but we are also building up good relationships with clients and forming a network of friends in business around the North West which is great to see.”