Developers build connections with higher education

TIGA, the trade association representing the UK games industry, today published a report showing that over two-fifths of games developers are working with universities in respect of course development, knowledge transfer or providing work experience for students. The Report, Games Businesses and Higher Education, was based on a survey of 78 games development studios and was supported by Train2Gain (T2G), the provider of open learning courses for the games industry.

The Report shows that 41 per cent of developers have a relationship of some form with a university. Of those development studios that do have a relationship with a university:

• 61 per cent of developers are working with universities to develop courses or to advise on course content;

• 58 per cent of developers are involved in some form of knowledge transfer with higher education;

• 58 per cent of developers provide work experience for students.

The Report also shows that some game developers are working with other education providers, including schools, Further Education colleges and T2G on course development.

Richard Wilson, CEO of TIGA, said:

“If the UK is to be the best place in the world to do games business then it is vital to forge strong links between development studios and educational organisations. Encouragingly, our research shows that over two fifths of games businesses have connections with higher education. The transfer of knowledge between universities and developers is mutually beneficially. For example, both universities and developers stand to gain from contributing to universities’ course development, providing work placements for students and working with higher education institutions in respect of recruitment events. At the same time, research and development in new technologies and knowledge sharing in general provides a potential source of competitive advantage for UK games developers.

“We need to increase the proportion of businesses and education providers working together and to deepen the nature of their co-operation. TIGA works to build strong relationships between game developers and education providers. In addition to networking events which foster knowledge exchange between developers and educational organisations, the TIGA-NESTA education exchange provides an on line service available for education and game businesses, to promote opportunities for industry-academia collaboration.”

The report also showed that on average, 18 per cent of the graduates that developers employ hold a degree in a games course. 45 per cent of developers who employ people with games degrees believe that the quality of students who have studied games courses at university are either excellent or good. Conversely, approximately a quarter of developers who employ games graduates believe that overall the quality of such graduates is either poor or very poor.

Mark Gerhard, CEO of Jagex and TIGA board member, said:

“Education and skills are a crucial part of TIGA’s agenda. UK studios compete on the basis of skills. TIGA will continue to build a coalition of game developers and education providers to share knowledge, develop skills and promote innovation as part of our vision to ensure that the UK becomes the best place in the world to do games business.”

Dr. Mike Reddy, Programme Leader for the BSc Games Development&A.I. degree at the University of Wales, Newport (one of TIGA’s university members), who has been on several Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) funded secondments with the games industry, added:

“It’s not just core technologies that developers can bring to Higher Education. It’s their knowledge economy and business practices in a fast changing market. Several developers I have observed have a staff development and up skilling approaches that universities could learn a lot from, as education changes to meet 21st century needs. However, UK studios are not necessarily explicitly aware of these new pedagogies, these adaptive practices, which have made British developers unique. Therefore, cross-pollination has to be a two way process, because academia has a lot more to offer in return for industry involvement in curriculum development.”

Mark Eyles, Principal Lecturer at the University of Portsmouth and TIGA Educational Advisor, said:

"Ensuring that graduates have the skills required by the games industry would be impossible without input from industry. At the University of Portsmouth we value the links we have with game developers and have a policy of ensuring that some of the lecturers on our games courses are game industry veterans. TIGA has been of considerable help in maintaining and building our industry links and also our links with other games courses. The future of game development in the UK is dependent on having a smart, skilled workforce and also on the entrepreneurial vision that is evident in so many game developers. Very simply, our graduates must have the skills and vision to support the aspirations of the UK game development community. They are the future of UK game development."

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