Birm­ing­ham City Univer­sity’s fin­ish­ing school sim­u­lates your first year in the in­dus­try

EDGE - - TIME EXTEND - ZUBY AHMED Pro­gramme di­rec­tor, Gamer Camp gamer­camp

Zuby Ahmed started out as a free­lance writer be­fore find­ing a job at space and flight com­bat sim­u­la­tor specialist Dig­i­tal Im­age De­sign as a tester. He grad­u­ated to level and game de­signer, and went on to work for Warthog Games and EA, then started his own stu­dio, Smash­Mouth Games. We spend some time talk­ing about the ad­van­tages of work­ing with Sony and squeez­ing in Magic: The Gath­er­ing dur­ing lunchtimes. For those who aren’t aware of it, can you ex­plain what Gamer Camp is? Gamer Camp is a fin­ish­ing school at Birm­ing­ham City Univer­sity de­signed by game de­vel­op­ers for game de­vel­op­ers. We’ve been [go­ing] since 2009, and have three MA/MSc cour­ses at the New Tech­nol­ogy In­sti­tute in Birm­ing­ham’s city cen­tre. Our Gamer Camp: Pro (Video Game De­vel­op­ment) course is for artists and pro­gram­mers, and stu­dents will work in de­vel­op­ment teams to pro­duce PC, How does the fact that your cour­ses are de­signed by game de­vel­op­ers man­i­fest it­self?

Firstly, the teach­ing staff here are all




iPad, PS4 and Vita games. In 2012, we started our new­est MSc course, Gamer Camp: Biz (Video Game En­ter­prise And Pro­duc­tion), which is de­signed with our in­dus­try part­ners to cater for those look­ing to work within the busi­ness and de­sign side of game de­vel­op­ment. Fi­nally, we’re about to launch our brand new un­der­grad­u­ate pro­gramme, In­ter­ac­tive En­ter­tain­ment, which is a two-year ac­cel­er­ated de­gree in which stu­dents will work in a stu­dio en­vi­ron­ment within one of three BA/BSc strands: Art, Pro­gram­ming and Dig­i­tal Mar­ket­ing. gamers and know their sub­ject in­side out. They all in­ject their pas­sion for games into the sub­jects they teach, and that’s re­ally dif­fer­ent from so many of the other in­sti­tutes I‘ve taught at – I’ve seen people who don’t know any­thing about the game in­dus­try teach on game de­vel­op­ment cour­ses. We’re also re­ally for­tu­nate to have lots of in­dus­try part­ners, such as Code­mas­ters, TT Fu­sion, Cry­tek and Ex­ient, work­ing with us on our Masters pro­grammes; they’ve even shown keen­ness to be­come in­volved with our new un­der­grad­u­ate In­ter­ac­tive En­ter­tain­ment pro­gramme. Be­ing part of the Sony Aca­demic Al­liance on the Plays­ta­tion First pro­gramme al­lows us to make con­tent for Sony plat­forms, which is great for us and the stu­dents, since we work re­ally closely with the Sony Aca­demic Al­liance man­agers and PlayS­ta­tion de­vel­op­ers. They pro­vide us with de­vk­its, hard­ware and even scholarships, and they’ve cur­rently paired us with Sony Lon­don Stu­dio to work on our next prod­uct for them, so we get to un­der­stand and learn [about] Sony’s triple-A ap­proach to game de­vel­op­ment – the stu­dents love this. Gamer Camp was born to sim­u­late a grad­u­ate’s first year in the in­dus­try, en­sur­ing po­ten­tial new re­cruits are armed with not just the skills but also the ex­pe­ri­ence re­quired to be dropped straight into a live triple-A project. But we’ve also got a re­ally strong so­cial cul­ture, and there’s lots of gam­ing at lunch and af­ter work, too. Lots of the stu­dents try to beat me at fight­ing games and at Magic: The Gath­er­ing!

In­dus­try place­ments nor­mally last for one month, but Gamer Camp has re­cently seen stu­dios mak­ing re­quests to keep stu­dents for longer, and in some cases go­ing on to hire pupils as soon as they grad­u­ate

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