This re­search-fo­cused univer­sity puts em­pha­sis on tech­ni­cal abil­ity and in­dus­try ties

EDGE - - TIME EXTEND - DR CHRIS­TOS GATZIDIS Se­nior lec­turer, Cre­ative Tech­nol­ogy


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

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