Yorkshire's Bradford, Hull and Sheffield Hallam universities have teamed up to create what they say is an answer to the UK's talent drought - the Game Republic Academy.
Regional screen agency Screen Yorkshire and local games development trade association Game Republic have committed £120,000 for the Game Republic Academy scheme to run for two years. The programme provides sponsorship opportunities for burgeoning developers across the globe to study for a masters in games development in the region.
The Academy boasts work experience opportunities and is backed by local developers Rockstar, Team 17 and Sumo Digital. Each will employ the students involved during summer periods and allow them to carry out their final year projects at their studios.
A course at each university is part of the scheme: a masters courses in Artificial Intelligence for Games at the University of Bradford, Games Programming at the University of Hull, or Entertainment Software at Sheffield Hallam. Each course starts in September.
The GRA provides students with up to £3,000 sponsorship each and plans to work closely with the industry to make sure that each course is current and relevant. In time it is hoped the scheme will attract a further £30,000 of investment from games companies.
The news is timely, coming off the back of recent claims by developers that universities must up their game when it comes to supporting the games industry, which is in the midst of a staffing crunch.
Jonathan Purdy, director of games studies at the University of Hull, said: “We are very pleased to be involved in the Game Republic Academy and are particularly please to have the support and backing of the games industry.
“This collaboration should ensure that the brightest talent is given the training and resources required to pursue a career in the computer games industry.”
Peter Cowling, professor of computer science at the University of Bradford, added: "We are delighted to be one of the three leading universities in the UK providing video games courses now in collaboration with the Game Republic Academy.
“We are exceptionally placed to offer students the kind of training the industry is crying out for. With high profile industry figures pointing towards AI (Artificial Intelligence) as the next big thing for commercial games, we are able to offer our new AI for Games Masters programme - the first of its kind in the world.
“Game Republic Academy's support will allow talented graduates from this programme to be part of the AI revolution in commercial games."