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Gamer joined military to fund Abertay degree

13 September 2017

Nathan 2

A determined lifelong gamer from California spent five-and-a-half years in the US military purely to access funding to study games at Abertay University.

Nathan Ayoubi went through combat medic training with the US Marine Corps to become an emergency medical technician then served long stints all over America - all the while dreaming of becoming a games designer.

The 25-year-old chose to apply for Abertay in Dundee - Europe’s top games university – and arrived to take up his place on the Games Design and Production Management course this summer thanks to a generous funding package from his former employers.

“The military provides a lot of benefits when you are done, and one of those is free university,” said Nathan, who grew up in San Jose.

“Nobody in my family ever went to university before and I wanted to have a different life to my parents.

“My dad came to the US as a refugee from Afghanistan and my mother was born in California and worked for a sound engineering firm.

“They both worked really hard all their lives but they never really had the opportunities that I have.

“That’s what has motivated me and at that time we didn’t have money, so I chose the military route.”

Nathan has a Super Mario ‘1-UP’ tattoo on his forearm linking his love for games with his ability to give someone an ‘extra life’ through his medical training.

After signing up with the US Navy aged just 19, he worked as a trainer for other medics at bases in San Antonio, Houston, Nashville, Chicago, North Carolina.

He said: “It was a shock because I’ve always been a gamer and hadn’t done any physical activity in my whole life!”

“I kept focused on getting to university when I was done and this was always a stepping stone for me in my life.”

Now finding his feet in Scotland, Nathan is a looking forward to starting his new life in games and already has a host of ideas for prototypes.

“I read about Abertay and met representatives from the university, then I got an unconditional offer in May,” he said.

“My parents were sceptical about me joining the military and moving to another state, never mind coming to Europe.

“But they are really supportive to me and I am glad I can make them proud.

“I view games as an art form, and I treat and analyse them as an art form. I have pretty high standards and any game I play has to be a good game – it can be any type of genre.

“I’ve always had a goal in life, completed it, then kept going. I think that’s the type of structure I need to succeed.”

For more information on computer games at Abertay visit

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