Video games development is a tantalising area of the industry to get involved in, and going to university to study programming, design or any manner of disciplines is a great place to start your career.
The University of Staffordshire is one of the many establishments in the UK with courses pertaining to games. It has six courses, including schemes for games concept design, programming and art.
But how does one go about applying to these courses?
“The biggest thing is to just have a passion for games,” lecturer David Edwards tells Develop.
“Know you want to go into the games industry, know you want to work for games companies. You want to take that step where you go through the monitor and say you want to produce content for other people to play.
“That’ll get you through a huge part of your course. Having a passion will get you through those late-night deadline crunches.”
Edwards adds that another side of this process is practice. He advises students to embed themselves in games and get invested in producing the work they want to do.
“For someone applying, it would be a case of playing lots of different types of games and then working out how they work, what makes them fun, what makes them enjoyable, what makes GTA a billion-dollar franchise and what’s so great about some of the Naughty Dog games,” he continues.
“Then when you know what you want to do, your passion and drive will get you there. In practice, it’s getting Unreal Engine and having a play with it. When you get to university, we can help you do the rest.”
And when applying, having a body of work to show is essential.
“If you’re applying to a course that requires a portfolio interview, present your best work,” Edwards explains.
“Don’t take a huge portfolio, or a giant workbook that will include some of the worst work you’ve ever done. Just take examples of the best work you have and be able to talk about them. Odds are you’ll have worked on the project for a long time, you’ll be able to describe what you’re trying to achieve and how you have achieved what you’ve done so far.”
The University of Staffordshire itself has a 67.4 per cent employment rate thanks to its connections to the industry. And these prove handy when students are applying for work experience roles.
“We have close ties with the industry; we have the only Epic Game Centre in the world, certainly in Europe, and that’s a partnership with Epic to deliver their events in the UK,” Edwards says.
“That’s where the industry come in and run events, they have talks here. We’ve had the likes of Ninja Theory and Codemasters come and give talks, and we have access to placements because of our relationships with TIGA and UKIE.”