This research-focused university puts emphasis on technical ability and industry ties
“STUDENTS SHOULD BE IMMERSED IN AN ACADEMIC ENVIRONMENT THAT BRINGS RESEARCH AND INDUSTRY TOGETHER”
Along with supervising doctorate students based at studios including SCEE R&D (as part of the Centre For Digital Entertainment), Dr Christos Gatzidis carries out R&D work with developers. He’s also the co-author of the UDK iOS Game Development Beginner’s Guide, and is currently planning a second book, focused on the latest version of Epic’s engine.
What do your courses cover?
We currently have three game development-related degrees in the Faculty Of Science And Technology: two undergraduate, which are a BSc in Games Programming and a BSc in Games Technology, and our postgraduate MSc in Computer Games Technology. All are mainly technical programmes in nature, particularly Games Programming, although we do have units on the Games Technology BSc and MSc which are of a more creative nature and cover parts of the pipeline such as level design.
Your courses seem to have a strong research focus.
We believe that academic courses are far more than just a few years of skills training: students should instead be immersed in an academic environment that brings relevant research and industry together. The growth, year on year, in applications for our games courses means we must be doing something right!
In that case, you must work closely with the game industry, right?
We do. For example, we have an annual industrial advisory board that companies such as Ubisoft Reflections, Climax Studios, Havok, Natural Motion and others have participated in the past, and we also have regular guest talks. This year we’ve had a range of developers – from Bohemia Interactive to indies like Born Ready – talking to our students.
You’ve written about Unreal Engine – does Epic’s toolset play a big role on your courses?
We’ve been using Unreal extensively across all years of Games Technology, and we’ll be using version 4 in the next academic year. We don’t currently use other engines such as Unity on the courses, although we do have some platform-- agnostic units such as Group Project, where Unity was very popular this year.
Does this tally with the resurgence in bedroom coding?
Bedroom coding is great and harks back, particularly in the UK, to the heady days of the 1980s, but we still feel that aspiring developers need formal qualifications and the structure that comes with that to get ahead!
How do you support students who aspire to make a living as indies?
We try to assist them in this as much as we can, for example by providing dedicated and contextualised business units in all of our games dev degrees. Our student teams do well at competitions such as Make Something Unreal and Dare To Be Digital – this shows that there is a strong interest from our students in going indie, and we try to support this constantly and in dynamic ways.
At Bournemouth, particular emphasis is placed on the tools and techniques used for developing games, animation and graphics, offering an in-depth understanding of 3D modelling, graphics, animation and game programming