HOWEST UNIVERSITY COLLEGE
Situated in northern Belgium, this institution has a strong international focus
“WE FOCUS MUCH MORE ON PRINCIPLES – THE TOOLS SHOULD NEVER BE THE REASON YOU CAN’T DO SOMETHING”
Voted ‘most entrepreneurial institution of higher education in Flanders [Belgium’s northern region]’ by employers and the government five times in the past eight years, the university college Howest has built a formidable reputation. We talk with Inge Defour, international officer for Digital Arts and Entertainment, about Howest’s international focus and unique perspective on the videogame industry.
What makes your Digital Arts And Entertainment BA stand out?
Our students have a unique profile when graduating. Most students still graduate with a traditional arts or programming profile, and this is where our course differs: in close cooperation with the industry, we have created a ‘technical artist’ profile. After a more holistic orientation year, students can specialise in either Game Development or Game Graphics Production, and over the course of three years they learn all the skills, techniques, principles and insights to create interactive 3D environments.
Do you have an international focus all round when it comes to learning?
Absolutely: not only is it taught in English, we also organise loads of international activities, including several international semesters, intensive programmes and summer schools. And Howest is built on a solid national and international network. For instance, every Tuesday afternoon, we organise industry sessions where Belgian and international guest speakers share their thoughts and experiences with the students. This year, the last week of our classes is replaced by an international workshop week with various workshops: Chanel Summers will talk about audio design for games, Daniel Dociu is to give a concept art workshop, and Kim Goossens will teach students about procedural graphics. We co-operate internationally with institutions in the US, Canada, Mexico, every European country, Russia, India and China.
Does your ‘technical artist’ profile include a heavy focus on tools?
We focus much more on the principles; the tools should never be the reason you can’t do something. We try to teach our students that if you know your production pipeline and your part in it, and master your technical and artistic skills up to a high enough level, that the tool you use to complete the job isn’t as important. As long as you get the job done. However, it goes without saying that we do use the latest industry tools, software and techniques.
Howest has a reputation for pushing its students pretty hard, right?
Many students don’t seem to realise that playing games is totally different from developing games. We expect our students to attend classes for 25 hours a week, and to work at home for another 25 hours. This results in an average workload of 50 hours per week, which includes periods with lots of work and plenty of deadlines, and calmer periods. We try to simulate the reality of game development in the best possible way.
Howest consists of five campuses in Bruges, Kortrijk and Ostend. Around 6,000 full-time students are enrolled on courses covering a wide range of disciplines, with emphasis on high-quality and practice-oriented courses