Evolving its courses to keep pace with a shifting industry
Teesside was one of the first universities in the world to run courses aimed at the videogame, visual effects and animation industries. Its course content is regularly refreshed to reflect current industry practices. Its Games Design course has been split, offering a creative design path, and a more technically focused option. Deputy head of game development Gabrielle
Kent gives us the details.
Why should students choose Teesside University for their education?
We have earned our excellent reputation and created impressive custom-built facilities for our students. The majority of our staff worked in the game industry before moving into lecturing, and we have Skillset accreditation across a number of courses. Through our annual Animex festival, students have access to talks and masterclasses from studios such as Valve, Bioware, Bethesda, Epic, Naughty Dog, Guerrilla and Blizzard, as well as highly successful independents. We have strong relationships with many studios that lead to placements and graduate jobs. A large number of companies visit us to discuss careers and to recruit directly from our end-of-year show, Expotees.
Have you noticed any changing trends in what students are looking to study?
Many of our students are now choosing to go it alone or set up their own studios after graduating, but need a bit of help with the business and marketing side of game development. In answer to this we created an Indie Game Development degree which covers not just design, scripting, mechanics, UI and so on, but also business, marketing and game publishing. Students know that they are looking to get into a very competitive industry, so we aim to ensure we equip them with a wide range of highly transferable skills.
What do you look for in prospective students?
Passion, a positive attitude, and the ability to work as part of a multidisciplinary team. Teamwork is extremely important to us. We run a number of group development modules which have earned high praise from industry. These realistically simulate the development cycle, placing students into specific roles, with staff acting as producers. Students are expected to meet key milestones and carry out documented play and bug testing, culminating in a final vertical-slice presentation to peers, lecturers and industry. This experience prepares them well for life in both indie and triple-A game studios.
The university has a motion-capture studio. Has it now become more important for budding developers to learn those kind of skills?
As the first games course in the UK to have our own motion-capture lab, we have always appreciated the growing importance of the technology to the game industry. This has become evident to employers and many of our graduates have gone on to work at specialist motion-capture studios such as Cubic Motion and The Imaginarium. We also offer a fully equipped postproduction suite and sound stage. Our students can access devkits, Leap Motion, 3D laser scanners, full colour 3D printers and much more, and we are currently putting together a dedicated VR lab featuring a number of popular technologies such as HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.
Ideally, what do you hope your students take away from their time at Teesside University?
We aim to inspire our students and to open their minds as well as expand their horizons. We hope that they leave us as positive, team-minded players who don’t just fit into the industry, but contribute towards making it a better place for all.
“We h av e st r o n g re l at io n s h i ps wi t h st u di o s t h at l e ad t o g r aduate j o bs ”
Among its broad range of game-centric courses, Teesside offers a BA (Hons) degree in Concept Art