2024 Hot New Things: Shaquille Berwick, Otago Polytechnic

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Each summer DA profiles a selection of the top design graduates coming out of our tertiary institutions. We welcome these talented emerging professionals to our industry, learn about their passions, final projects, developing creative confidence and ambitions for the future.

Today we speak with Shaquille Berwick who both recently graduated from the Communication Design programme at Otago Polytechnic. You can find out more about Aotearoa NZ creative study options by visiting our design schools page.


Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

As a 2D artist, I enjoy creating characters and worlds that engage and inspire players within Indie Game Development. As a video game player myself, I have always enjoyed the experiences and journeys that take place within the video game medium, and my goal as a game designer is to pass these fond memories on to the next generation.

What did your graduating project(s) focus on?

For my major project, I decided to create a retro pixel art fighting game that focuses on the gladiator battles that happened during the Roman Empire. The game is a co-op that uses gamepad controllers, allowing players to compete with one another in a best-of-3 battle.

Why did you choose to study at Otago Polytechnic?

I first heard about the Communication Design course at Otago Polytechnic through my Art Design teacher from high school. They recommended that I should check it out if I wanted to keep pursuing design, so I ended up going to the opening day for the course and really liked what they offered when it came to the different design pathways.

What did you enjoy most about your course, or what do you feel you can take away now that you’ve completed it?

I think the part that I enjoyed the most was the skills and knowledge that I gained from the variety of disciplines the course had to offer. Graphic Design, Game Design, Film, Design History and Animation were just some of the things that this course covered, and from these disciplines, I felt like I was able to get a good foundation of design knowledge that could be applied to whatever type of project I will work on in the future.

Were there any exciting or unexpected discoveries to come out of your studies?

Choosing to focus on Game Design for my final 2 years was probably one of the more unexpected discoveries I had during my studies. I have always been a massive fan of video games since I was a child, but when I went into this course, I was actually wanting to pursue animation or film. In my second year, I realised that I really enjoyed the overall process of game development and since animation did play a part in the overall pipeline I felt like I wouldn’t be missing out on much learning.

What was your biggest challenge while studying and how did you overcome it?

There were definitely a lot of challenges that arose during my time doing this course, but the ones that come to mind would’ve been centred around Game Development. Since we were working in small teams or even solo, we ended up having to fit into multiple roles during these projects. This was quite the challenge for me since I had to learn to adapt fast and be willing to push myself way outside of my comfort zone. There were days when I questioned whether I was a good fit in some of the roles I was given but I had to make sure to give it my all even if I felt like it wasn’t in the realm of my expertise. Through these challenges I faced, I ended up gaining a lot more confidence by the end of it and was able to learn some valuable lessons and skills that helped me improve as an overall designer.

Which piece in your portfolio are you most proud of and why?

Gladiator Glory was definitely the thing I was most proud of out of my portfolio so far. This project meant a lot to me since not only was it the final project I got to work on in this course, but it was a great representation of who I was and what I could do as a game designer. Since I worked on this project solo, I ended up having to cover every role that would be part of the game development pipeline. This was a massive challenge since I wasn’t confident in my abilities outside of the visuals of the game but I really wanted to see what I was capable of so I decided to stick with it and the final outcome ended up becoming something that I was super proud of.

What’s next for you?

My goal now is to try and find some work in the gaming industry whether that is locally or maybe overseas so I can continue to improve upon my design skills and knowledge within Game Development.

How can people get in touch or see more of your work? 

The easiest way to get in touch with me is probably through my email shaquilleisraelberwick@gmail.com but I also have an Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/shaq.art/ ) and Art Station (https://www.artstation.com/shaquilleberwick) where you can see my portfolio and art doodles.

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