Faculty profile: James Manning

Media Design School 26 Jul 2012 Comments

In a weird kind of way, you can thank Dire Straits’ ‘Money For Nothing’ for inspiring James Manning to pursue a career in computer graphics. The music video sparked an interest in animation and technology that has turned into a prestigious academic career.  

As the newest member of the Media Design School faculty, James brings 15 years experience as an educator to the game art department.

Hailing from the UK, he holds a Master Degree in Media (Research) from the University of the West of England and is currently studying for his doctorate at Bath Spa University. His research explores the shifts in cultures surrounding the production and consumption of videogames, the evolution of the game development process, and the changing relationships between the players and developers of games.

Media Design School has long been on his radar as a place to work and we sat down with him to find out more about his passion for teaching, games and innovation.

Why NZ?
“The lifestyle, way of life and work life balance! Also, Media Design School is hugely successful, pioneering and has, in many ways, defined New Zealand.”

Explain your doctorate in a nutshell?
“I am interested in the relationship people forge with technology and how that technology allows us to form human relationships.”

What is the highlight of your career so far?
“The success of my students and giving students a springboard upon which to build their own career. It [teaching] is about finding innovative ways to use technology and preparing students for the next evolution within games.”

A recent high profile success story was Toxic Games’ Q.U.B.E. released on Steam, which was created by some of James’ students

What is the next digital revolution?
“Technology will become more and more ubiquitous – it will be on us, part of us. Mobile phones are part of what is already happening. The next challenge will be in how we share our knowledge. Learning used to be about retaining information, now the internet does that for us so it will become more about how we use that knowledge and for what purpose.”

What can your students look forward to in your class?
“I am hoping to show students how to use and understand technology to develop new industries and create the next big thing. I want to help them create the next social platform rather than develop content for the existing model. I also want to inspire students to think about games and gameplay that is less obvious, appealing to the creative within us all. I provide the scaffolding which enables them to build the house, provide support along the way to help them grow.”

What do you enjoy outside of work?
“My interests include travel, backpacking, diving (have dived in hotspots Thailand, Egypt and Malaysia) , snowboarding and of course, playing games.”