UK game-development degrees not up to snuff, claims industry
Position: videogame designer. Required: the right skills for the job
The UK videogames industry is suffering because UK university courses aren’t equipping students with the right skills needed for the job, a gaming industry campaign group has warned. But it’s also partly the Wii’s fault, apparently.
A campaign group called Games Up? – which is backed by several UK gaming firms - claims that only four of the UK’s 81 videogames degree courses are actually accredited by the Skillset, the government monitoring body responsible for ensuring that students have the core skills required by the industry, such as programming and computer science.
The group want centres of excellence for videogame design created, in an effort to help improve standards of education, training and qualifications. If action's not taken, then leading game firms could continue to desert the UK’s talent pool in search of more talented games designers from abroad - as Games Up? already claims they are doing.
David Braben, a spokesman for Games Up?, told The Guardian that the games development sector is “facing a serious decline in the quality of graduates”, which is compounded by the problem that “95 per cent of video gaming degrees are simply not fit for purpose”.
However, the body’s also stated that the Wii has made videogames more popular than ever, leading to the desire for more videogames outstripping the rate at which they can be produced.
For example, Games Up? said that the Wii has expanded the traditional child and teenager demographic for videogames out to gamers aged into their 60s. But we guess they could still like a late-night Grand Theft Auto IV session as much as the next person.
UK games = Quality, US games = Quantity
I think I've found the reason why there is such a gulf between the skills and abilities that the industry craves, and what the average student crawls out of tertiary education with... "accredited by the Skillset, the government monitoring body"
It's the professors, not the school
I don't believe that there are good or bad universities, just teachers that are better or worse. Unless you're a classic self-starter (e.g. Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Richard Feynman), the real purpose of universities is to increase the chances that you will bump into someone dedicated to the life of the mind who will by example show how much entertainment and utility hide in the outer convolutions. It is by their interest and enthusiasm that great teachers communicate a love for their subject. Sometimes you take away a shared appreciation of that subject, sometimes you just take away the desire to find something that moves you as deeply. In either case you are fortunate. Many grab the sheepskin and run, never having had the experience which in any case can never be guaranteed.
(Reminds me of an old joke: "You may not know the right answers, but at least you'll learn how to ask the right professors...")
If you go back to the origins of the university, you'll find that they were student associations that paid standout lecturers and standup philosophers to entertain them, much as fanboys gravitated to Plato in the grove of the Academy. Later on came the transformation of the university into the institution of primary importance and of the professor into a mere university employee (with few exceptions). In the origins of the university lie the original reason for and the true utility of university education.
If they want high quality recruits why don't they pool their resources and create a private institution, instead of going cap in hand and begging the state?