Aber­tay Univer­sity

The home of Dare To Be Dig­i­tal has a long his­tory within the game in­dus­try

EDGE - - GET INTO GAMES - PRO­FES­SOR LOUIS NATAN­SON Head of Arts, Me­dia & Com­puter Games www.aber­tay.ac.uk

A bertay Univer­sity is prob­a­bly best known for its Dare To Be Dig­i­tal com­pe­ti­tion, which sees teams of stu­dents com­pete to build games over an eight-week pe­riod, be­fore show­ing their cre­ations at the Dare Pro­to­Play fes­ti­val and com­pet­ing for a BAFTA Ones To Watch award. We talk to the head of the School Of Arts, Me­dia & Com­puter Games, Pro­fes­sor

Louis Natan­son, about how Aber­tay mixes con­tem­po­rary and tra­di­tional tech­niques.

What does your range of cour­ses of­fer? Both our BSc Com­puter Games Tech­nol­ogy and BSc Com­puter Game Ap­pli­ca­tions De­vel­op­ment cour­ses con­cen­trate on graph­ics pro­gram­ming, con­sole de­vel­op­ment and mo­bile pro­gram­ming as well as the maths and physics that need to be un­der­stood to de­velop rich and var­ied com­puter games on dif­fer­ent plat­forms. We also have the BA Com­puter Arts which tar­gets game art – char­ac­ter de­sign, 3D modelling and an­i­ma­tion and so on, as well as vis­ual art prac­tice where tra­di­tional tech­niques such as draw­ing are cov­ered. Then at un­der­grad­u­ate level, we have a BA in Game De­sign & Pro­duc­tion Man­age­ment, and a post­grad­u­ate Pro­fes­sional Masters in Games De­vel­op­ment de­gree. Do stu­dents from the var­i­ous cour­ses work to­gether in any as­pects? Yes, al­though we have dif­fer­ent cour­ses in games pro­gram­ming, games de­sign and game art, they are taught from the same depart­ment and we bring all our stu­dents to­gether into mixed-pro­fes­sion teams. Deal­ing with these cour­ses un­der the same roof makes us stand out. Have you seen changes in stu­dents’ ex­pec­ta­tions in re­cent years? In some places, game ed­u­ca­tion has given stu­dents the im­pres­sion that it is easy and that it’s about how good the games are that they make. But talk­ing with our in­dus­try part­ners, I have the sense that what is more im­por­tant is that stu­dents gain deep trans­fer­able skills and un­der­stand how to work smart and hard.

How closely do you work with stu­dios? We have over 50 game com­pa­nies ac­tively in­volved with our stu­dents, from lo­cal startup devs to huge com­pa­nies like Rock­star North and Sony. They help guide the de­vel­op­ment of what we teach, as well as men­tor­ing stu­dents. Aber­tay has been closely as­so­ci­ated with the de­vel­op­ment of the in­dus­try here in Dundee – Dave Jones, who cre­ated

Lem­mings and Grand Theft Auto, was a stu­dent with us. As the in­dus­try grew and spread out from Dundee, our re­la­tion­ship with those pi­o­neers helped us un­der­stand what was needed for con­tin­ued growth. So has your role within the in­dus­try changed sig­nif­i­cantly over the years? It’s im­por­tant for stu­dents to know the fun­da­men­tals, but as tools such as Unity have made game-mak­ing more ac­ces­si­ble that has meant that we chal­lenge our stu­dents to be even more imag­i­na­tive in what they make. Be en­ter­pris­ing, take re­spon­si­bil­ity for what you are do­ing, and don’t ex­pect to be told what to do.

“WE HAVE OVER 50 GAME COM­PA­NIES IN­VOLVED WITH OUR STU­DENTS, GUID­ING THE DE­VEL­OP­MENT OF WHAT WE TEACH”

The univer­sity has in­no­va­tive and well-de­signed fa­cil­i­ties, and is highly re­garded for its aca­demic per­for­mance in ar­eas that have gen­uine rel­e­vance and im­pact on so­ci­ety and the econ­omy

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