Zahra Tilling, 17, who is studying for an Animation and Games Design diploma, was the only student not in higher education taking part in this year’s Grads in Games Rising Star challenge.
She was recognised in Character Art category where participants had four weeks to create a fully animated 3D model of a games character on a choice of themes.
Zahra, who is from Newham, said: “I drew my idea from Mother Nature and came up with a stylised fairy character with healing properties. She has magical powers and a satchel of herbs and flowers to make potions to help people and the environment.
“I’m really proud of myself, and happy to have represented the college against university students who are doing something similar a higher level. I went into it to challenge myself rather than as a competition and see how well I could do within the time and other restrictions given, and it was nice to be named one of the ones to watch.”
According to the Think Global, Create Local report by Ukie, the trade body for the games industry in the UK, the country has the largest video games sector in Europe with 16,140 full-time equivalents working in the business, including 13,840 in games development.
Zahra began designing games art before she attended WestKing but felt her course had expanded her knowledge and given her more focus and determination to make it her career.
She said: “I’ve played video games most of my life, so it seems like a natural progression for me to want to work in this sector and create the things I love.
“The course at WestKing has been great. I’ve learnt so much, which has motivated me to work harder. My teachers have helped me with everything, not just my college work but reaching out to companies and finding jobs and work placements. Because of the competition, I’ve already had some interest from recruiters.”
Grads in Games was founded by Aardvark Swift, a recruitment company for the video games industry, in 2014 before becoming an independent in 2021.
The company aims to help students make the leap from education to professional games developer through events, activities and resources to equip them with the skills that employers in the games industry need.
Dan Dudley, Marketing Manager for Grads in Games, said: “We’ve seen an exceptionally high bar of quality this year and some truly inspirational work from students hoping to soon start a career in video games, and we fully expect to see many of the names below leading the next-generation of the games industry.”
He praised the “exceptional” winners and finalists and added that those chosen as ones to watch had “shown the skills and potential to become fantastic game developers”.
Oran Tarjan, Lecturer in Media, said: “Zahra is an exceptional student, and this is a truly outstanding achievement. To produce the kind of 3D artwork she has created and to compete against university students at her age is incredible. It’s rare to come across a student who is so focused and dedicated. I have no doubt that when she finishes her education, she will get a job in the industry.”
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