BA (Hons) Graphics for Games
Xander Ford is the first person in his family to study at university. He graduated from the University of Bradford in July 2019, with a first-class honours degree in BA (Hons) Graphics for Games.
I guess I could be described as a storyteller, artist, I don't know. I enjoy just talking about things. I like making games and stories and telling those stories. I think it's really cool.
Breaking the mould
"I’m the eldest son and I’m the first in my entire family to go to university.
"My grandfather kicked my dad out when he was 16 because he said he was old enough to pay board.
"I finished college at 19 and then I worked for about a year and a half, so I didn’t go to university straight away. I worked as a cleaner in schools and I was completely miserable in that job.
"After about a year and a half, I was sick of it. I thought ‘I’ve got the qualifications; I’m going to go to university'. I started working on a portfolio in my spare time."
"My little brother was the first person I told I was thinking about going to university. He told me to do it but also not to tell mum and dad straight away as they’d talk me out of it.
"I spoke to some teachers whilst I was cleaning in schools and they gave me advice about how to do a personal statement. I did all the applications and then told my mum that I was going to go to university.
"My family didn’t want me to because they didn’t understand how student loans work. They’d say ‘you’ve got to pay all this, it’s £9000 a year’ and I’d have to explain that it didn’t work like that and I’d only pay it back when I earned a certain amount.
"They thought it didn’t seem right and that it must be a scam. My mum was very much like that as well as my grandad, dad and auntie, as it’s a very close family. They wanted me to do an apprenticeship in joining or plumbing or something like that."
"Graphics for Games is mostly the art side of things and that’s what I enjoy doing the most. I enjoy drawing and designing stuff and thinking about how I can make something which tells the backstory of a character.
"I like creating stories for character design and things like that. That’s what I enjoy doing and that’s what I focused on in my course.
"I guess I could be described as a storyteller, artist, I don't know. I enjoy just talking about things. I like making games and stories and telling those stories. I think it's really cool."
In the last two to three years, all of my family have become much more open-minded about higher education and they’re even trying to push my brother to go to university now... To see the change in my parents means the world if I’m being perfectly honest.
"One of the things I've wanted to do since I was young was go to Japan. Whilst I was here I learnt about the student exchange programme. I don't know if after I graduate I’ll ever be in a position to do exotic things.
"So I applied for it and got on to it and then I had to start making all the arrangements. That was very stressful because it’s not cheap, but thankfully Student Finance pays for a lot of it.
"I lived in Tokyo for a full year and I went to Hosei University which is a brilliant university. It’s in the heart of Tokyo in Ichigaya.
"I studied there for a year and I was studying things like the cultural history of Japan and language, which I was okay with. I did a bit of drama while I was there as well, stuff that I would not necessarily relate back but that I could use for my own understanding of another culture."
"My first year was really good and I was optimistic for everything. I remember at the end of the first semester, my mum asked if I was bored yet and said ‘I thought you’d have come home by now.’
"That insulted me if I'm being honest as I felt as though they obviously didn’t think I’d stick with it and that they had no faith in me to do anything. I’d already found accommodation for next year and I told them I was staying in Bradford.
"In second year, it was very much the same and that’s when things flew off the handle a little bit. I failed that year due to some extenuating circumstances and some problems at home that I had to go and deal with.
"I went home and my dad asked whether university was for me and whether it was what I really wanted to do. I said it was what I wanted and that I’d just had a bad semester, which then led to another bad semester."
Realising my potential
"After I'd said that I was going to stay, my parents said ‘alright’ and it felt like they were entertaining me and allowing me to go off and make my own mistakes. On one hand I respect them for that, because I would prefer that they let me do it and let me learn as opposed to saying no.
"They did that and then I showed them I was serious. I got a first in every subject when I repeated that year. I completely smashed it and blew it out of the water. That year, I told them I’d applied to study abroad in Japan. I thought they’d say no, but they didn’t. They were very supportive, and I went on a year abroad.
"Now, we’re all really trying to push my brother to go to university as well because we think it’ll be good for him."