Video game entrepreneur offers five life lessons for DMU graduates


One of the UK’s leading video game entrepreneurs gave an emotional speech when he returned to De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) to receive an honorary degree, 25 years after he graduated.

David Banner MBE was made an Honorary Doctor of Technology when he attended the seventh DMU degree ceremony to be staged this week, during the annual winter graduation ceremonies.


Dr David Banner in his graduation ceremony gown

Addressing graduates from the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Media (CEM) the now Dr David Banner said: “I am delighted and humbled to accept this award today. I was a very shy man from the Welsh valleys when I arrived in Leicester but I can remember sitting where you are today and how proud my mum and dad were.  

“I can feel myself welling up a bit remembering back to that day.”

He then joked: “As you can hear, I have lost the Leicester accent”, then added to cheers from the auditorium: “Although you’ll be glad to know I still follow the Foxes (Leicester City).”

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Dr David Banner received his honorary degree on stage at The Venue@DMU

Dr Banner graduated in 1995 with a first class degree in Graphic Design and secured his first job creating digital and three dimensional art, worked for companies such as Eidos – makers of the iconic Tomb Raider – and designed games for every kind of console, from the Sega Saturn to the Sony PlayStation.

But inspired by the possibility of more creative freedom and a vision for the games industry to develop outside of London and LA, he formed the company Wales Interactive which has gone from strength-to-strength to become a multi-award-winning video game developer and publisher that sells around the globe.

Dr Banner offered the graduates five life lessons, using references to video gaming, to take with them as they prepare for the next stage of their journey into work.

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A student gives a wave to people in the audience

He said: “Number one, use your extra lives. By this I mean do not be afraid to fail. Failure is not the end of the world, it is a by-product of trying.

“Number two, explore the map. For a gamer you can sometimes get bigger rewards by heading off in a random direction and choosing a different path. Use your initiative to secure that job.

“Number three, take advantage of the pause button. You need time to reflect. It is really important to enjoy the moment and look back on what you have achieved. Sometimes you can feel inadequate because you forget what you already have and focus on what you want.

“Number four, life is not a single player game. You may feel isolated and alone. All human beings go through this. Do not be afraid to ask for help. The Welsh word for hug is ‘cwtch (kutch)’ Sometimes we need a cwtch.

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There was a celebratory mood in the room as students graduated

“Number five, congratulations on graduating today. You should be really proud of what you have achieved.”

After the ceremony Akeem Touro, who graduated with an MSc in Mechanical Engineering, following three years studying as an undergraduate, said: “The whole experience of studying at DMU was great. I was sat during the ceremony thinking ‘I have spent four years at DMU and it has now paid off’.

Originally from Belgium, Akeem added: “I have met so many people and DMU helped me so much when I first arrived. I have all my friends in Leicester and it has been a blast.

“Leicester is basically home for me now. I didn’t know anything about the city when I first came here. I thought it would be so quiet but it has been really vibrant and there is so much to do. I have been made to feel right at home.”

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Students were graduating from the Faculty of Computing, Engineering and Media

Emma Guy, from Luton, graduated with a Master’s in Investigative Journalism – a course run in conjunction with Channel 4.

While completing the course, Emma also worked as an undercover reporter for BBC III and is planning to start her own business, hopefully in Leicester.

She said: “It has been amazing at DMU. I said to my family earlier, this MA has genuinely shaped me into the person that I am today, professionally and personally.

“Channel 4 sponsored me for the Master’s and without them I would never have been able to do it. I am so grateful.”

Stergos Hadjistercoti, who graduated with an MSc in Engineering, said: “I feel awesome man. It was a lot of work but now we have all been rewarded. And life was good in Leicester. I am moving back to Cyprus as I already have a job.”

Elizabeth Freeman, from Stoke, has graduated with a BA (Hons) in Film Studies. She said: “It is pretty crazy to graduate. I really had not thought about it until about half way through the ceremony and I thought ‘Oh god, I have done it’.

“I felt so proud. I have loved my time in Leicester. There are so many different people and so much is going on. It is a really welcoming city. I am hoping to do my master’s here next year.”

Posted on Thursday 23rd January 2020

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