Develop looks into the new Twofour 54 gaming academy in Abu Dhabi

Training Spotlight: Twofour 54

A new gaming academy is being built in Abu Dhabi in partnership with Ubisoft that plans to take on its first full-time students next year on March 26th.

The industry education institute is part of the region’s twofour54 initiative to enable the development of ‘world-class’ Arabic media and entertainment content.

The games programme is vocationally oriented and is an 18-month intensive program tailored to the needs of the new Ubisoft development studio to be established in the region as part of the deal.

It has also been designed to match the needs of the broader emerging games development industry across the Middle East and North Africa.

The course focuses primarily on games programming skills, but also provides students with a foundation in games design and games art, with a focus on skills including C++, XNA and various scripting tools.

There are also foundation units in AI, 3D, games art and games design available to prospective pupils.

The program has been designed to have a ‘strong emphasis’ on practical learning, with students expected to produce working games and tools from their first trimester.

Pupils are also taught skills in project management, whilst there is potentially the opportunity for them to work across other disciplines with their counterparts at the global School of Audio Engineering, which also partners the academy, in animation, audio, film or multimedia.

Those on the course will be able to take advantage of Ubisoft’s expertise from an impressive 25 years in the industry, with developers from the studio providing guidance, tools and job opportunities to students.

Twofour54 COO Wayne Borg says that the deal with the French publisher means that the region can now start to build its gaming infrastructure, whilst also being able to develop, and more importantly retain, its home-grown talent.

“Digital gaming has always been a priority sector for twofour54 and to partner with an international market leader such as Ubisoft is great news for the region’s gaming industry,” says Borg.

“The digital games played by Arabs have traditionally been developed outside the region, which means that they rarely have a direct relevance to Arab gamers.

“Our agreement with Ubisoft will benefit the region in that it will enable the development of titles with universal appeal, whilst also building the skills of young Arabs to allow the region to create its own games and develop a gaming industry base here at twofour54.”

Ubisoft executive director Christine Burgess-Quémard adds that the demographics and the pool of skilled technical talent in the Middle East and North Africa region are the “key factors” that will contribute to the success of its new studio, which it hopes will have 100 staff within the next five years.

“Their commitment to developing a strong regional gaming industry and their knowledge of the region were the perfect foundation on which to continue building our development teams,” says Burgess-Quémard.

Yannick Theler, whose previous roles include VP of business development for Ubisoft’s China activities and human resources director of Ubisoft Shanghai, has been chosen to run the new studio.

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