Debate: The education game

Debate: The education game

By Develop

April 20th 2010 at 5:08PM

Three industry professionals discuss how students can get ahead

Education group Train2Game has begun hosting its own series of online discussions between top game educators and professionals.

Copied out below is the full transcript of one of the group’s most recent ‘webinars’, hosted by TIGA CEO Richard Wilson (RW), DR Studios boss Clive Robert (CR), as well as Train2Game course director Tony Bickley (TB).

The trio explored a whole manner of issues surrounding game education. Read the whole transcript below.




CR – We’re going to take a few questions that have been sent in by various people who are watching online and who have emailed us already. To start off, Tony, can you tell us a little bit about the training courses themselves that you currently offer?

TB – We are doing three courses including a development and design course, and an art course that goes live within the next month. The design course is very much built about how to enter the industry as a computer games designer and is broken down into four sections. There is an introductory section that introduces the students into what they need to be to be a computer designer, what the gaming industry is about and how games are actually built. Then we have three supplementary sections, we have section one, which is where we tell the students all the facts behind what they need to know as a designer. As we go into section two they start to build an active portfolio and we take them through some of the techniques and some of the tricks that they need to learn. Finally we go into section three which is where we go in to optimize and do advanced techniques. And this is really where they start to put their portfolios together, they move into high concept work, games design documents, pix documents and all the things we would expect a games designer to do.

Within the computer development course, the programming course, we have the same sort of course structure where we build upon previous lessons all the way through the course. Again we have an introduction section, what is a programmer, how does he/she do work within the games industry. Then we have section one, two and three. Section one will teach them all about C++, the programming language. In section two we introduce them into the practicalities of developing their first game and by the end of section two they will have completed their first game, based on a game engine that we supply them and art assets that we supply. Then moving into section three where they look to optimize that code, do advanced programming techniques and move much more into the 3D world.   

CR – I believe there is another course being launched as well, the art course, can you tell us just a little bit about that?

TB – The art course we are very excited about at the moment. Again, it works off the same course structure; we introduce them into the tools that they need to be a digital artist where we are looking to build up a portfolio using 3D max, one of the industries standard tool sets, and Photoshop. We teach them everything they need to know from being concept artists through to a 3D digital art and animator using models, characters and environmental artists.

CR – OK, excellent. Richard, can you tell us a little bit about your involvement with Train2Game and how the relationship between Train2Game and TIGA works? One of the things I think a lot of people are interested in and some of the questions we’ve received are about the exam committee and how Train2Game manage the quality of the course.

RW – A number of things worth emphasising here. One of the reasons why TIGA is involved with Train2Game is because the games industry is suffering from skill shortages. Our research shows that in 2008 63% of games developing businesses were suffering from skill shortages and they are short of programmers, designers, and project managers, one of the key shortages being programming. One of the good things about the Train2Game courses and their approach is that we are trying to address those skills shortages. We’ve also established the TIGA examinations committee. The examinations committee includes people from some of the key studios in the UK, and we’ve also got two education advisors, one from Bedfordshire University and one from Portsmouth University, to help to ensure that the curriculum and examinations meet accepted standards for performance.

CR - There is a statement on your website talking about benchmarking. Can you tell us a little bit about your benchmarking?

RW – Essentially it seems to me its very important to benchmark the Train2Game courses against other existing qualifications so we engage with our two education advisors, Professor Carsten Maple from Bedfordshire University and Mark Eyles from Portsmouth University. They’ve been carrying out a benchmarking exercise on the Train2Game courses against other university courses and I believe are going to make an announcement very soon. But I suppose the important point to emphasise at this moment in time is that we take the content of the courses very seriously and we want to give as much information as possible to students and that is why we are carrying out a benchmarking exercise. Tony, do you want to add anything to that?

TB – All I’d like to mention is that we have also been working with other external studios within the industry and we’ve been bringing their wishes and thoughts into the course. So they really are courses that supply the needs of the industry.

CR – Here’s another question from a chap called Tom. There’s information on the Internet about Train2Game and of the course being a scam. The course itself is entirely legitimate. We’ve been working on the course at DR studios for over two years now, we set up the three course structures about a year and a half ago and we have been working diligently to produce those courses and get them to market. The courses themselves have been launched to incredible critical acclaim. We now have over 1800 students studying with us, we have a one in fifteen acceptance rate which is really quite surprising for the quantity of candidates that we’ve had apply to the course. So the question is is it legitimate? It really entirely is. I don’t know whether you two have anything to add to that?

RW – Simply the fact that we work to maintain the quality of the courses by having our education advisers and the fact that we have respected academicians from Bedfordshire University and Portsmouth University putting their names to the process. The fact that TIGA is backing these courses is important, as we represent the UK games industry, and we think it is very important to offer good quality courses to students and that is what the Train2Game courses are all about.

CR - Dan asks, ‘how do we feel about the success of Train2Game courses so far and specifically some of the Christmas competition projects that were posted?’ What’s your view on some of the content that’s being developed by some of the students currently?

TB – I was pleasantly surprised, given the fact that the courses are still relatively new and we haven’t had anybody complete a course yet. Some of the Christmas entrances were very, very good. We had a competition that was based around both programming and design where we were looking at the design entries without critique on their art capability and we had some surprising and interesting stuff coming through. And on the programming side we had some very inventive games. We had set the competition up in such a way that they had to do all the competition entries new and bespoke towards the competition. E.g. we’d themed it around Christmas so they couldn’t use any of their coursework for it and we gave them a set time for it.


CR
– The next question is from Richard. He asks, ‘where do you see the industry heading in the next two years?’ I think that is a great question for Richard seeing as you are heavily involved with the question ‘where’s the business going?‘

RW – Well, one thing for certain is that the industry is going to carry on being extremely innovative and creative. The industry itself is still growing globally - last year, 2009, had the second largest sales figures for the UK despite dipping the previous year, so the industry overall, very creative, still growing. What’s really critical for the UK games industry is that we do persuade policy makers, sorry the Government, to introduce a games tax relief. If we had a games tax relief that would allow UK games developers, like DR studios and many other studios in the UK, to compete on a level playing field with our competitors overseas.  If we can do that we’ll see an increase in jobs, an increase in investment, and the UK games industry will be having a very prosperous future.

CR - Thank you for that. Another question, one for Tony, being our Course Director. ‘How big do you see the gap between entry-level students who graduate from our course and studios themselves? Do you see a sizeable gap or no gap at all?’

TB – The students will enter the studios as a fully qualified, value add to those studios at a fairly junior level. They still have to come up to speed in the way that the individual studios work and on the individual project. But I’m looking for them to and fully expect for them to add value to that studio from the moment they arrive.

CR – Another question, ‘how much are your courses?’ The courses in total cost £4960 for all three of the courses, so that’s the art and animation course, the games developer course and the games design course, and that equates to around £35 a week. We can also help you if you need finance options.

RW – Is it worth adding the expected salaries resulting from students who successfully get into the games industry?

CR – I think that it is a great question. What are the starting salaries for graduates, coming out of not only Train2Game courses but any courses in fact, coming into the games industry?

TB – If we were talking about a programmer coming straight into the industry but with qualifications I’d expect him, or her, to start at between £20,000-£25,000 for their first year. For art, somewhere between £17,000-£22/23,000 and design, somewhere between £15,000-£20,000 depending on their portfolio work. This is why we concentrate on portfolio work within the course so the studios that employ them can see a practical benefit and proof of their abilities.

CR – Next question. We’ve got a question from Dave. ‘If you were starting out again what would you do to get into the games industry?’ Tony you’ve been in the industry for about 1000 years, let’s throw that one at you.

TB – I would get proper education in the discipline that I wanted to do. When I first started, many years ago, it was very much a ‘hobbyist’ market. There were no courses like Train2Game, no universities, no self-help books, there was nothing. These days there’s a lot of help and assistance out there - training courses like Train2Game, university courses, and self-help forums. I’d be looking to put as much knowledge into myself before I applied for a job and do portfolio work and practical exercises, and prove my ability and my commitment before I approached the studios.      

CR – If I could just add to that, it is unlikely that anyone will be taken beyond the CV stage if they haven’t got a good portfolio. So in my opinion, I completely agree. The most important thing you can do is build a really, really strong portfolio because that is what, together with your presentation of yourself of course, will get you the job.

RW – Is it just worth adding to that in case the parents are thinking of courses for their children, that its worth studying more mathematics in school and be concentrating on that? Certainly many of us, years ago perhaps, wouldn’t have recognised that courses like mathematics and the sciences could get you into such an exciting industry as the games industry.

CR – I think that having a good strong maths background and a good strong physics or science background is key and actually fundamental to the programming side of the business. If you don’t have a strong maths understanding I think you will struggle throughout your career in the programming side of things. Another one from Dan, ‘how would the Train2Game qualification and portfolio compare to university students?’ I think this is a question for both of you.

TB – I can answer that quite accurately, because I have been privy to the benchmarking reports that have just come back from TIGA’s educational advisers. I won’t go into too much detail on it because the announcement is yet to be made. I can say that it compares very favourably. The portfolio work was particularly praised within the report.

RW – I think the critical thing to emphasise is the fact that we had two university academics, respected academics, carrying out this benchmarking exercise for the Train2Game courses. People who work hard at Train2Game courses will be in a very good position indeed, whether going into further learning or getting a job directly into the games industry.

CR – So I think the statement there is watch this space. In the next week or so we will be making some really interesting announcements. We have one from Martin, ‘do we help find students positions once the course has been completed?’ Obviously I can probably take it but I think Richard with your recruitment side at TIGA you can help with it as well. But in terms of what Train2Game do, Train2Game are producing a significant jobs board that we’ll be launching in the next couple of months and will effectively aggregate all of the jobs that are available within the interactive industry, and indeed related industries as well, and roll them onto one site. We can then help students prepare their CVs and portfolios as they start to look at the jobs available on our board. And I believe that you have got an excellent recruitment site at TIGA as well.

RW – We have TIGA HR group, which is made up of HR professionals in the games sector and who supply advice to TIGA in terms of advising people how to get into the games industry. We have a report and publication, which gives career advice, which again is useful for people trying to get into the sector. I think we stand in a pretty good place to help people who have done the Train2Game courses to get jobs within the sector.

TB – If I can just add to that and to re-emphasise the way the courses are laid out. We heavily concentrate on the preparation and construction of portfolio work and this portfolio work is developed over the last 50% of the course. We work with the students to develop these portfolios so by the time they are finished, they are polished and ready to go to potential employers.

CR – A question from Martin, ‘how much effect will the new level of destructible content effect level design in the industry?’ A very technical one there, especially for new people breaking into the industry through Train2Game.

TB – It will affect quite a lot of the hardcore games. Its something that’s been done in games for several years now.        

CR – Can you give a top line on what destructible content actually is for some of our newer viewers?

TB – Destructible content is when the environment, models etc. within the game are dynamically changed by the action of the gamers themselves. Epic first started to do this with their Unreal engine. Everybody else in that high-end AAA products are now starting to do it as well and it’s going to become more and more prevalent throughout the AAA products.

CR – So, do you feel all of our courses will support this growing trend towards destructible content?

TB – Yes I do, and I would like to say that we are always adding new content to the Train2Game courses to keep them current as we move forward.

CR - That actually brings us to another question that’s been sent in, do we update our courses?

TB – The short reply is yes we do. We have the advantage of having Studentworld which is the official Train2Game student website. Students can log on and download new add-ons for their course as the industry changes and as new studios request additional information from the courses. I can’t go into too much detail but there was a major development studio that a couple of months ago asked us to add more content to one of our courses to make it more relevant for them. We absolutely did so and within two months it was available for our students.

RW – The TIGA examination committee and TIGA education advisers are also in a good position to advise Train2Game on how to update courses to make sure they are aware of all the latest developments. 

CR - Here’s a good one, ‘who does Train2Game courses?’ And I think the question there, which is from Ben, is asking about the kind of person who does the courses. Tell me about the demographic of our students.

TB – The demographic of the students are people who, due to lifestyle choices, can’t go and do full time education but would still like to follow their dreams and enter into this industry. The lifestyle choices could be that they’re married, they’re in full time employment or due to financial restrictions, as in they have mortgages and a family to support.

CR – I think I can actually add to that, having seen a great deal of people on the forum and also looked at a lot of the applications. My view of people who do the courses is really broad. We’ve had people who left university who for one reason or another decided university was not for them. We’ve had people who don’t want to change their lifestyle, they perhaps didn’t go to university, have got themselves a job, maybe have family and really don’t want to step back into full time education and have chosen to come on our courses. And we have quite a lot of young people on our courses as well from around 17 to 24 - people still living at home, being supported by their parents, and they’re coming onto our courses because they perhaps don’t have the financial ability or the academic qualifications to get into university. And some of those people who haven’t made it to university, who perhaps got the qualifications but didn’t make it to university this year because places are becoming more and more limited as more people improve their educational standards.

In terms of people who work within it, it is primarily a male dominated industry. However the statistics yesterday, especially on the social and casual side, showed 43% of social and casual gamers are female.

RW – And of course many women are playing games so its not a male preserve anymore.

CR – And I think that’s going to change as well over the next few years. As games become broader I think we’ll see a much smaller domination of males within the games industry and more females coming into it.    

TB – One of the serious categories of people who are coming onto our course are also ‘hobbyists’ who wish to get into the industry but don’t have the qualifications and they are particularly looking to fill holes in their expertise, so we’re finding people who have worked in modelling societies and programming and now what they want is to fill the holes in to give them a proper education.

CR – Here’s another one, I think this one is a good one for Tony. ‘As a studio what do you look for in someone who is applying for an art role in your company?’ We’ve got a lot of art questions here so I think there is a lot of interest in the art side of things.

TB – The art world is a very broad spectrum. At a very coarse level we’re looking to breakdown art into four main areas. We look at concept 2D artists who work on menus, conceptualising early design work coming from the designers when they are working on high concepts etc. So we need someone who can take a vision in words and create a picture that can then be pushed through the rest of the studio. Another would be a 3D modeller who would create the characters and animate them. And then we would be looking for someone who would be an environmental artist; they create the levels, the worlds in which these characters live.

CR – Can I ask what qualities swing it for you? So in terms of applicants coming through the door we’ve got Train2Game applicants coming through the door, we’ve got university graduates coming through the door, and people without any formal qualifications coming through the door. What swings it for you? Is it the fact that they’ve got a degree or a TIGA diploma or is it the fact they have got a really good portfolio?

TB – Sorry to hark on about it but it is absolutely the portfolio. I’m looking for them to have proven talent, enthusiasm, raw natural ability and the commitment to turn that talent into a workable portfolio based on briefs that they’ve been given.

CR – I think that is the fundamental point, I think your portfolio, as we banged on about rather a lot this evening, is really, really important. The portfolio needs to be really targeted, so it can’t be work that you are proud of, or that you particularly like, it has to be work that is relevant. Your portfolio should change all the time as well so it should be relevant to the studio that you are going to. If you are applying to a driving studio for example, a studio that builds driving games, and you turn up with a lot of character art, then they are really going to struggle to get their head around it.

TB – Absolutely correct.

CR – Ok, now, a couple more questions here. When do the tutors stop helping you? We stop helping you when you get a job. Train2Game offers six days of support, that’s live telephone support, web support via web mail and forum support. The support is offered from 9am to 8pm. Those tutors are really there to help students on the course content and any problems that they’ve got and go through tutor marked assessments. The tutors are also there to help you with pretty much anything else - if you’ve got a financial problem, a problem with your living, a problem with your technology or your course, your tutors will support you, they will support you throughout the course. Their role does stop though once you’ve got a job.

RW
– Once the tutors stop looking after the students then of course Train2Game, obviously through its job support, then has the opportunity to help people.

CR – Absolutely. We have a question from Rico, he asks, ‘as well as applicants tailoring work to your studios needs how diverse should the portfolios be?’ So another question on portfolios. So how diverse should their portfolio be?

TB
– The very short answer is as diverse as it can be. If I were to take the example of art which we used last time, I would look at the application, the job slot that you are going for, and if it was to do with a character artist, target your portfolio towards character art, but within that targeting, within that focus, make it as diverse as possible. Add concept art, add realistic art, add cartoon art, and add science fiction style character work. If the job specification doesn’t allow you to focus the portfolio down that tightly then make it as broad as you can.

CR
– Now here is a great question, I think Richard, this one is targeted directly at you. Nick says, ‘Richard you talked about the UK investing in the games industry. Don’t you think the Government should give students like me more support when training?’

RW – Well the issue with training is that it falls on three groups of people or three groups in society. Employees have taken steps to invest in their own training, companies have to invest in training and so does the Government. With regards to UK games companies I’m pleased to see that our latest research shows that a typical development studio will spend around 6% of turnover on training which compares reasonably well to other sectors.  With regards to the Government itself we are keen for the Government to maintain investment in higher education. It’s very important in terms of knowledge transfer and creating good quality graduates. I also think it is important that existing training schemes like Train2Game are used in a practical fashion so its not simply focused on low level skills but also focuses on high level skills needed in the games sector. So I think that all three groups, all three sectors in society, have to take responsibility for training – students and employees, studios themselves, and of course the Government.               

CR
– So Nick, I hope that answers your question. Ok, we have another one, ‘how well is Train2Game recognised in the industry, especially after the Develop magazine quiz you took part in?’ Tony you were on the quiz team?

TB – We had a very good night and just as importantly the students who won the competition to be part of that quiz did very well, we got lots of recognition from the rest of the competitors. We had to as a brand, as a course, reach a certain critical mass before we could start to road show the rest of the course to the rest of the industry. We are at that now and we are working very tightly with Richard to do exactly that.

CR – OK, thanks for that. We’ve got an interesting one that says here, ‘will Train2Game help with expenses to certain key events?’ We have quite a few students and for us to fund every single student to go to industry events, of which there are really rather a lot, would be quite difficult. But we run a lot of competitions where we have events such as the Develop quiz. We’ve got quite a few more of them - we’ll be down at the GDC in Brighton. We’ll take the students to that so in terms of supporting the students we’ll help the students get to all these sorts of venues, get them tickets etc. but in terms of payment I think we’ll get that through our competitions.

TB – If I can just add to that, the competitions that we are doing are multi-scoped in what we are looking for from our students. Some are talent based, in other words we will reward the prizes to the most talented student. Some of them are commitment based therefore we will award prizes to the students who have shown the most commitment. Some are more fun, some are creative, some are technical in nature, so we offer prizes and support to the whole gambit of the student base that we have.

CR – I believe also that there are some opportunities where people can talk to their job centres or their local Government and get grants for attending certain conferences and get into games industry events. Kelly asks, ‘how do you get the most out of your Train2Game course and do you feel that I will be employable afterwards?’ I think we talked about the employable one but how can she get the most out of her course?

TB – Basically follow the instructions within the course materials, work really hard at your portfolio work and any time that you have a problem either go to your course tutors or the Train2Game forum. We have 37,000 posts on there now, there is a fantastic amount of information there as well as almost instantaneous response on some of the threads. Work hard, show commitment, build your portfolio and ask for as much information as your need.

CR – Again, just to give you that forum address, it is forum.train2game.com. We have another question, ‘how many students do you have studying your courses?’ We currently have over 1800 students studying across all of our courses. Ok, so we have just five more minutes, we are going to take a couple more questions. Right, Joe says, ‘thanks for doing this web chat but why don’t you do more to motivate people to do training to get into the games industry?’ Is that a question for you?

RW – I’m happy to take that yes. I think one of the issues has been that the industry is still very young. I think Government policy makers probably haven’t seen the games industry as being a great industry to get involved in and that is one thing that time is working to address. One of the reasons why we focus on generating a media profile for our sector is to create awareness about the industry, to give people an idea that great opportunities exist in this sector. Also negotiating with Government, working with politicians to educate them as well, so that they in turn can point out to constituents and discussions at the House of Commons that the sector is important and worth showing an interest in. We need to continue to emphasise how well trained our workforce needs to be so its R&D intensive – these are all really important things that policy makers are looking for in British business nowadays and the more we can get that message across to Government I think the more likely they in turn will be to encourage people to have a career in the sector.

CR – A question from Jo: ‘Will the Government do what we are doing and encourage more females into the industry?’ I think we mentioned earlier on that it is a very male-dominated industry. How can we get more females into the industry and motivate them to join what is a really great business?

RW – Well I suppose one thing is for the developers themselves to create games that appeal to women and to girls, I think that is important. That is already happening to a crucial extent I think.  Through the TIGA HR group I think we are creating awareness for good practice procedures for game developers to adopt when recruiting. We have a careers guide, which we are developing on the TIGA website, which will encourage people to think twice, or think again about having a career in the games industry which they might not have thought about previously. There is always more to be done, but the trend is probably in the right direction. I think people, women in particular, are becoming aware of the great opportunities that exist and clearly organisations like TIGA should be working hard to get people into the sector.

CR – I think you are absolutely right about developers building games that are more targeted at a broader audience. And one of our projects called High School Greens is a game targeted at females and the whole social gaming sector is probably the fastest growing sector in the whole of the games industry and that is predominantly played by females. Ok, another question, we’ve got a few more that we can take. Brett asks, this is one for Tony, ‘will there be lectures on games development like they have at Harvard University or other Universities?’

TB – I can’t answer that in an accurate way as I am not privy to what those particular lectures are but I can say about our live Internet training. Our LITs are where we get industry experts to come in and do a live Internet chat with a Q&A  session and presentation. We run these once a week with different topics and the students can get hold of these topics from the Studentworld website. We had one on last night on story telling and dialoguing. We had one quite recently where we had a head of technology from another studio come in and give one on console developments and the optimisation we needed within that. So, we have key speakers coming in from the industry.

CR – Carl asks, ‘how do we asses our students? Are they independently assessed?’ The assessment of our students really comes back to the course advising process so when our candidates are interviewed the course advisor spends a great deal of time, it can be up to 2 to 3 hours of interview time, working with students and asking a great deal of questions, some of which are difficult questions to answer - how is the support structure in place for you? If you come onto this course and start on this course are those around you able to support you? Do you have the academic wherewithal to do these courses? The games development business, whilst very glamorous to a lot of people, is not an easy business to be in and requires a lot of time and commitment and a fairly significant academic level. So we spend a great deal of time assessing the candidates’ ability to actually perform on that particular course. There are financial questions too?  Can they afford the course; if they take on this course are they going to fall on financial problems later? There is a huge amount of assessment that goes on and that is largely down to the course advising process. Course advisors are trained very heavily by us as a training team from a games development perspective and by MIS from understanding the students and getting the right kind of candidates to work with us, and the appropriate students.

TB – Whilst working with TIGA’s own examination committee, which is made up of independent leading studios across the UK, we have constructed an exam process that allows those studios to input into the exam process. Therefore students are independently assessed outside the Train2Game brand as to what the industry is actually looking for.

CR – We have a question from BH Media Multi who I recognise as one of the chaps from our forum. ‘Do you think the forum really supports and helps the students with course building and good community potential in developers?’ I’m a fairly frequent poster on the forum and I think the forum is a great support tool. I think it is a good support tool for the students who are currently studying our courses and those who are contemplating coming onto the course. I also think the forum and the links away from the forum to people’s individual sites is a brilliant opportunity for other publishers, investors and for any other developers to be inspired. I think the forum is a brilliant tool and I thank everyone who commits daily to it by putting lots and lots of great posts on it and talking about their game developments because they do a great job, and you should continue doing it. Getting your own webpage up there, getting your own blogs, getting your own space on the web for you and your projects is just a brilliant thing to do and will generate awareness for you and the projects you’re working on, so great question. We have another question; this is a nice simple one. ‘What are the hardware requirements and what do I need to start on this course?’

TB – The easiest way to describe this is you need broadband, you need the Internet, and you just need a reasonably competent PC. It has to be a PC as the applications that the course uses require a PC. The way that we describe this is your standard laptop costing £299 or £399. And the reason I say laptop as opposed to desktop is that desktops tend to be more powerful than the equivalent cost of a laptop. So if you are looking at a PC that has been on sale for the last year, year and a half, even two years, it’s absolutely going to be able to handle this course.

CR – I think that’s a great summary. So a £300 laptop is probably the best spec for you to do the course. A couple more questions before we wind up. A persistent question here - Richard asks following on from the recently reply about portfolio building, he wants to be a vehicle artist within the industry and he knows a few companies make racing games but what does he need to do to make himself more employable? And I think he is talking about more employable within driving studios.

TB – My advice to Richard would be to research what those individual studios do, the type of driving games that those studios do and then construct vehicles of the same type, but go beyond what they are currently doing, so add something to what they are doing, but don’t take it too far from, make it so it is focused at them but show potential, show creativity, show commitment.

CR – I think just to add to that he says he has a wide range of skills and assets that comply with studio art. I’d be careful with that Richard, I think the games industry these days has become really quite specific so you need to be a specialist in your field and you need to be the best in your field. To turn up to a studio and say I can do a lot of things relatively well is not as big a sell as a stronger proposition to those potential studios saying ‘that is what I do, I’m a great vehicle artist and I do them really, really well’.         

TB – If I can just finish off there Clive. My final advice to Richard is to show a progression of thought when building his portfolio. Show the early concept art, show how he’s moved from the various options on his concept art into the wire frame, the 3D model, and take those 3D models through the whole of the process. So he can show a progression of all of his skills that are targeted to each one of the studios. And if that means that the studios Richard is looking to work for have slightly different vehicle types then absolutely do a slightly different portfolio for each of his presentations.

CR – One more question and then I think we are going to wind it up. Mike asks, ‘how long does the course take?’

TB – It’s a difficult one to answer as it depends on the amount of time people have. One of the key thoughts behind the course is the flexibility of study. We base our courses around a recommended 10-15 hours of study per week per student.

CR – So if a student studies at around 10-15 hours per week how long would that take?

TB – I would expect the average student to complete the course in 2½ - 3 years
                   
CR – And if the student studies 30-40 hours a week, is it reasonable to say they would qualify in a year and a half.

TB – Yes, about a year and a half,

CR – So just to add here, there are no set times, we don’t force you to do it in three years or a year and a half. The pace you progress through the course is entirely up to you as is the level of commitment you put into the course. But the estimate with 10-15 hours of study a week is about 3 years. I think we are going to take one more question as I think it is a good question. ‘Train2Game as a course has been running for a year so where do you think we are going to go from here, what does the future hold for Train2Game?’

TB – We are looking to keep our courses dynamic, relevant and up to date. We’re constantly adding to the course content within the courses we have already released and we’re working with Richard and his team to do that. We are also working with academia and various universities to do that, as well as individual students to keep building on the course content. We are also looking to see what other disciplines, what other courses, could be brought into the Train2Game fold in order to allow other people to join the industry in other disciplines, other than art, programming and design.

CR – So just to sum up on that point, so you’re talking about keeping those courses nice and flexible, maintaining the quality, making sure everything is continually updated, making sure they are affordable. Richard do you have any points to add to that?

RW – One thing that will of course be very exciting over the next twelve months will be the first people getting their TIGA diplomas when they finish the course. As Tony says more courses will be developed. And from TIGA’s perspective I hope we see practitioners give some of the special lectures that we talked about earlier on. We’re going to see TIGA’s examination committee and TIGA’s education advisors playing an important role in terms of the examinations. And I see greater acceptance and employment of Train2Game people taking place throughout the sector. 

CR – Chaps, thank you very much. So I think we’ll almost certainly do this again. Tony, thank you for your time, Tony is our Course Director. We have Richard Wilson here, CEO of TIGA and myself, Clive Robert. Thanks a lot and I hope to see you again soon.

TB – Thank you very much for joining us.