Teesside University has been providing games and animation courses for over ten years, and its reputation for producing well-prepared graduates speaks for itself.
Teesside was one of the first universities in the world to begin running games courses, senior lecturer in computer games development Gabrielle Kent tells us. In fact, its BSc (Hons) Computer Games Programming course was first accredited by Creative Skillset in 2007, and several of its other courses have also received official recognition.
In the first year, designers, animators and artists are given a good grounding across all areas of development and introduced to teamwork. From the second year, its courses are targeted to specific skills. Students also work on team-based development projects headed up by student leads, who are selected on performance and managed by a member of staff in a producer role. These projects simulate studio structure, roles, practices and milestones, which Kent believes makes her graduates stronger recruits for the industry at large.
Tech-wise, Teesside has three dedicated games labs that each contain high-end machines with dual screen setups and a comprehensive range of industry standard software. It has a motion capture laboratory equipped with Gypsy exoskeleton hardware and two optical and infrared camera systems, as well as a fully equipped post-production suite and sound stage.
Additionally, it has a dedicated art space and wet room, light boxes, graphics tablets and Cintiq displays, a games lounge and meeting space, all to aid staff and students.
As well as handling its courses, Kent also curates Animex, the university’s annual games and animation festival.
Through the annual Animex festival it has attracted guest speakers from world-class games studios, including Epic, Naughty Dog, Valve, Sony Santa Monica, Lionhead and Guerrilla Games to name but a few.
“Many of our speakers consult with us on keeping our course content fresh and in line with potential industry developments,” says Kent.
“We also have a close relationship with Ubisoft Reflections. As our biggest recruiter they take a strong interest in the course, attend student presentations and provide guest lecturers.”
Alumni of Teesside’s computing department have set up casual games companies or gone on to a variety of studios worldwide, including Irrational Games, BioWare, Ubisoft, Lionhead, Ninja Theory, Blitz Games, Eutechnyx, Media Molecule, Rare, Frontier, Sony, Rebellion, Rockstar North, Traveller’s Tales and many more.
Kent and her colleagues intend to keep on consulting with the industry to ensure that they remain at the top of their game. They have also begun developing a Masters programme and will be introducing a new course focusing on the practical, theoretical and business skills needed for the development of casual games.
Kent says students should study at Teesside for its experienced staff, course content, state-of-the-art labs, the student experience and its close links with the games industry.
“In the 90s, games studios had to spend a lot of time training new staff in-house. Through courses such as ours, graduates are entering the industry with these skills already in place and the only in-house coaching needed tends to be in the studio’s own tools and methods,” Kent says.
“Teesside University has a national and international reputation as a leading university for games degrees, and our graduates are working at some of the biggest studios in the world.
“By choosing to study games at Teesside, you will have access to a wealth of knowledge and experience, as well as world-class facilities, which will provide you with everything you need to launch a successful career in this extraordinary industry.”