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Nurturing the gamer within

Abhiraj Ganguli |

Computer gaming as taken over the world of technology since the first video game, Spacewar, was created at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1967. These days, the industry is booming thanks to newer designs and true-to-life graphics. And the prospects of making a career in the games design industry have never looked better.

Staffordshire University in the UK has one of the best departments of games and visual effects going around and it also has six Indian students in its burgeoning ranks. Excerpts from an interview with Bobbie Fletcher, academic group leader in games design technology at Staffordshire University:

Q What are the subjects that a student of games design studies?

The department of games and visual effects at Staffordshire University offers a number of graduate as well post graduate programmes catering to the specialised gaming needs of diverse candidates. We seek students who have a passion for games design technology.

Students enrolled for these programmes get to focus and master modules like game design theory, understanding games, using game engines, 3D modelling for film, art skills and understanding game art, visual design process, scripting, lighting and dynamics, 3D art, animation and motion capture, and much more. These programmes are supplemented with group as well as individual projects thus enriching learners with the comprehensive knowledge of this field.

Q Take us through some of the programmes offered as part of the course.

The University’s department of games and visual effects hosts a number of programmes, specialising in the detailed analysis of computer games design and development. These programmes include Bachelor’s of science degrees in computer games design, computer games design with foundation year, indie games development, computer games design and programming, computer gameplay design and production; Bachelor’s of arts degrees in games art, computer games animation, concept art for games and film; Bachelor’s of engineering degrees in computer games design, computer gameplay design and production; Master’s of engineering degree in computer games design and programming, and a Master’s of science in 3D computer games design.

Q What is the Epic Games Centre? How do the facilities benefit students?

Staffordshire University’s Epic Games Centre is an industry sponsored fully-equipped space comprising the best gaming equipment, resources and the University’s worldclass facilities, set to foster the finest gaming talent.

At the Epic Games Centre, apart from the noted expertise and resources of Epic Games — a renowned American video game development company — students also gain immensely from the guidance of visiting professor Mike Gamble, European territory manager at Epic Games.

The Centre is available to all the students pursuing the various programmes offered by the department of games and visual effects. It is only a part of the top notch facilities consisting of several large studio spaces containing 300 high specification PCs, with software such as UE4, Unity, 3dSMax, Maya, Zbrush, Marvellous, Substance, Houdini and many more industry software packages. There is also the opportunity to book out extra equipment such as Wacom tables for art, Vive VR headsets and the 14mx 7.5m, Six Camera Vicon Motion Capture suite with Cara facial motion capture. Epic Games and Staffordshire University have this dynamic partnership to help bring game developers, the University and students closer together in order to enhance student performance.

Q Are the inputs of students incorporated by Epic Games in their products?

Epic Games use the work students produce to demonstrate to other educational establishments how top universities use their technology. They do this through hosting Educational Summits at places such as the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, US.

Q How viable is games design as a career option?

Pursuing any programme, from the plethora of gaming courses offered by the University, opens a wide range of versatile career options for aspirants within the games industry in the sphere of 3D art. Consequently, the significant roles aspired and applied for include environment artists, character artists, games technical design, level, quest and mission design, games production and publishing and narrative design for games and motion capture specialists.