A Journey to Kajaani: Unveiling the Magic of Game Development

Staffordshire University London student, Jack Dowds, embarked on a journey that transformed his own perspective on game development.

Nestled amidst the serene landscapes of Finland lies Kajaani, situated in the heart of central Finland and the capital of Kainuu region, which exudes a unique charm and offers a glimpse into a culture vastly different from the bustling city of London. It was in this picturesque setting that Staffordshire University London student, Jack Dowds, embarked on a one month exchange programme that transformed his own perspective on game development and instilled invaluable skills that will undoubtedly shape his future endeavours.

Jack’s adventure began with the daunting task of overseeing the development of his first published game, "Capy Adventure". Armed with the knowledge of Unreal Engine, Jack had joined forces with a team of five like-minded individuals, each bringing their own expertise to the table. Together, they delved headfirst into the intricacies of game development, navigating the challenges and triumphs that come with bringing a vision to life.

The path ahead was far from smooth. Jack mentioned, “I ran into multiple bugs and errors while developing the game, I managed to learn the solution to the errors which helped deepen my knowledge of the Unreal Engine. I am much more confident in creating more of my own projects with little help from others”.

Early mornings soon became the norm, as Jack and his team dedicated themselves to the meticulous craft of game development. The intensity of the course was undeniable, at times pushing the students to the limits of their capabilities. Yet, amidst the demanding workload, a sense of camaraderie and shared passion fuelled the group’s efforts, propelling the team forward.

On weekends, students were able to explore more of the beauty of Kajaani, adorned with its distinctive Finnish architecture, offered a stark contrast to the urban sprawl which Jack had quickly grown accustomed to. The tranquillity of Kajaani Lake, shimmering under the summer sun, provided a welcome respite from the demands of our project and offered the chance to explore the surrounding areas.

KAMK University of Applied Sciences, the institution that hosted this transformative experience, enriched Jack and other students learning with a series of engaging events. A memorable excursion to Vimpelinvaara, an impressive hill overlooking a vast expanse of lakes and forests, with the breathtaking panorama served as a stark reminder of the natural splendour that surrounds Kajaani.

KAMK also invited guest speakers from the gaming industry to share their insights and experiences. A lead programmer from Black Smokes Studios shed light on the multifaceted responsibilities entrusted to those who lead the programming team. Jack recalled, “It was shocking to see how much a lead programmer needs to do whilst developing the game!”. The programmers candid account revealed the complexities and demands that accompany this crucial role, giving Jack and others further insight into the world of game development.

Subsequently, the students were privileged to hear from both a lead artist and a game artist from the studio. Their presentations emphasised the significance of seamless collaboration between art and programming, highlighting the symbiotic relationship that exists between these two disciplines in game development.

The culmination of this enriching experience was an unforgettable visit to Black Smokes Studios. Immersed in the heart of the studio, Jack witnessed first-hand the creative energy that fuels the production of captivating games. The studio's impressive portfolio and the collaborative spirit of its team left affected Jack’s overall perception of game development.

Jack reflected on his time in Kajaani with a sense of gratitude, remarking, “I had an amazing experience and gained so much from the course and would recommend it to others, especially those who want to learn what it is like to work within a team or on a game project”.


As a Staffordshire University student, you have a world of opportunities at your fingertips. One of the most enriching and transformative experiences you can undertake is studying or working abroad. Immerse yourself in a new culture, broaden your perspectives, and gain invaluable skills that will set you apart in today's competitive job market. Learn more or email our Global Connections team on suglobal@staffs.ac.uk.

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I had an amazing experience and gained so much from the course and would recommend it to others, especially those who want to learn what it is like to work within a team or on a game project

Jack Dowds, Computer Games Design, Year 2

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