While some are quick to criticise courses and universities teaching games development as â??irrelevantâ?? or â??out of touchâ??, one part of the industry is looking to change that: technology providers. We through five of the major academic programs which offer free or cheap access to well-known tools and appsâ?¦

Free For All


Microsoft has several programmes in place designed to get software into the hands of students and academics for free, the firm’s academic developer evangelist Ed Dunhill tells us.

MSDNAA is a subscription available to technical departments at schools, colleges and universities which provides a number of Microsoft apps from Vista and Server through to developer tools. Most institutions already take part, but those also looking to sign up can register at https://registermsdn.one.microsoft.com/msdnaa/aa/newstep1.aspx or email edunhill@microsoft.com.

Dreamspark, meanwhile, is a year old project for Higher Education students to get access to MS apps for free. Head to dreamspark.com for more info – all students need to do is verify their student status. The likes of Server 2003, Expression Studio, SQL Server, Visual Studio Pro 2008 – and, yep, XNA Game Studio – are all available at no cost.

MSDNAA and Dreamspark also offer free subscriptions to the XNA Creators Club for those looking to further explot the .NET XNA platform.

Dunhill adds that Microsoft also has an offer for free Windows Server based web hosting for Higher Education students. More details can be found at his blog – blogs.msdn.com/edunhill.


3D modelling package Modo vendor Luxology is a newbie to the education sector, having only just announced its plans last month, but is taking the move very seriously. “Luxology is trying to make Modo very accessible to schools and students alike. We want to break 3D out of the classroom and make it easy to use Modo not just in a lab but also on a laptop that might be anywhere. Modo runs on Macs and PCs, which provides for more flexibility,” explains Immanuel Martin, sales director at Luxology.

Elements of Luxology’s Education Provider Program include: reduced pricing of Modo for faculty members and labs, including floating licenses and blanket site licences; automatic access to app updates; reduced price training; and technical support.

Martin describes the pricing as ‘inexpensive’, the program effectively reducing the seat cost of Modo to under $100.

Colleges around the world are already signed up. In the US that includes The Academy of Art, Cogswell College, Art Institute of Washington, Florida State University, Michigan State University at Ann Arbor and the Columbus School of Art and Design. Plus, the Fukuoka Design School in Japan and University in Maribor, Slovenia are recent additions to the program. If you want to join them, send an email to sales@luxology.com.


Emergent only formally started working with universities a year ago, although it had relationships with some colleges prior to the July ’07 founding of its academic program. Key to the offer is the fact that it provides universities with completely free use of its Gamebryo engine, asking only that institutions provide feedback on what projects the middleware was used for.

“We want to empower the games developers of tomorrow and what better way to do that than provide them with a triple-A game engine and tools so they can use ‘real world’ technology,” a rep told Develop. “In addition to the free use of our engine we provide technical support to the professors and their students. We hold technical seminars where we train the teachers how to better use Gamebyo and share ideas on how to incorporate it into their classes. We’re also working on training/classroom documents that should be out this year for professors to use in the classroom.”

20 schools across North America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand are part of the program including University of Derby, University of Ulster, University of Central Florida, and North Carolina State University. To sign up head to www.emergent.net/programs/academic.


Relaunched last year, Softimage’s Education Program now consists of two parts – the Education Partner Program, which offers partnership opportunities for education and training facilities, and the Certified Instructor Program, which offers professionals interested in teaching Softimage the chance to become certified. “We launched our new Softimage Education Program last year, in 2007, after an extensive survey and evaluation with many industry educators, and overhauled our Education Program to make it easier to approach, much more compelling and attractive to educators who wish to teach XSI in their classes, and helpful to students and graduates after they complete their XSI training,” a company rep told Develop.

In terms of costs, eligible students, teachers and institutions can purchase permanent or one year subscription licences of XSI Advanced Academic Edition for $295 and $175 respectively.

Art schools already teaching XSI include NAD Center (National Animation and Design Center) in Montreal, Fashion Institute of Technology (NY), Flashpoint Academy (Chicago), Vancouver Film School (Vancouver, B.C.), University of Southern California (LA), Filmakademie Baden Wuerttenburg (Germany), ESCAPE Studios (UK), Daikin Industries (Japan) and Whistling Woods School (Mumbai, India).
Find out how to sign up at: softimage.com/education/default.aspx.


Last, but not least is Autodesk’s long-running education tools scheme which has seen its Max and Maya tools sold into Universities for a number of years.

Perhaps most alluring to educators will be Autodesk’s supplied summary of the cost reductions: “Academic partners can choose from a variety of software solutions, at deep discounts off of suggested list (from 70 to 95 per cent off list price), and gain access to additional resources including technical support, self-paced learning solutions, curriculum development tools, professional programs, online product training and more. Students can also take advantage of deep discounts and access the same software that the professional use in their daily work lives.”

UK universities signed up include Portsmouth, Coventry, Bournemouth, and Teeside. And colleges the world over are part of the program.

Elsewhere, the Autodesk program is well structured to include all aspects of teaching use of its software. It offers an EDU portal for students at students.autodesk.com and also runs the EDU Strategic Partner program which looks to help support the explosion of CG animation and game development courses around the world by helping big companies like Sony Imageworks, EA, Ubisoft and LucasFilm interface with colleges. The firm’s Autodesk Professional Excellence program meanwhile looks to certify educators and support the careers of those looking to teach how to use Autodesk products.

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