Computer Game Studies
Who are you and what do you do?
Mark Grimshaw. Among other things, I am Head of Music Technology & Studio Production, and Course Leader for the BSc(Hons) Computer & Video Games program within the School of Media, Music & Performance. In addition to my supervisory duties, my responsibilities also include producing the web site for the School, and teaching analog and digital music technology.
Who decided to offer such a degree?
The School has always had a reputation for offering innovative degrees that mix practical work with theory, such as degrees in Popular Music & Recording, Media Technology, etc. The Computer and Video Game program is simply an extension of this philosophy, married with an interest in gaming that myself and several colleagues have.
What are the needed skills to apply for the course?
To be accepted into the program, university entrance exams such as A-levels or equivalent in the UK, are required in a range of subjects either specific or peripheral to computer games. Thus we take students who have studied programming, art, design, philosophy, psychology, mathematics, information technology, computing, music, business studies, etc. Whatever country an applicant is from, they must have excellent school leaving qualifications in a range of subjects (not necessarily obviously specific to computer games) or, in the case of mature students, be able to demonstrate the appropriate experience. Above all, they must have a passion for gaming.
Are there any other schools offering a same kind of courses?
Some. Mainly they offer degrees targeted at specific areas of the industry such as programming or art & graphics. We’re unaware of
any that offer the broad coverage of the industry that we do.
What is the main purpose of the course?
It is designed for game producers – the people who lead the games design teams and have a good knowledge of all areas of game production.
What lessons are given?
1st Year: Programming (2 modules);Project Management (2 modules); Design (2 modules); Art & Graphics; Sound & Music; History & Analysis (2 modules)
2nd Year: Technology; Marketing; Project Management (2 modules); Design (2 modules); 2 modules of minor options (chosen from programming, audio, design, art); 1 major option (chosen from programming, audio, design, art)
3rd Year: Legal Issues; Industry Perspective; Major Team Project with evaluation; Major Portfolio with evaluation
What can the students do with the degree when they are graduated?
A degree of this nature will make them more attractive to potential employers. Additionally, the specific skills taught on the degree have applications in other related industries.
Are there any game/software publishers interested in these students (I mean are they better then an experienced programmer who can also apply for a job?)
As the degree was developed in consultation with industry, there has been plenty of interest in the degree, including equipment donation, software donation and guest lectures. Whilst we’re free to develop whatever degree we see fit, our industry consultation led to a degree that was targeted at games producers rather than specifically games programmers, artists etc.
Is there a focus on PC games or console games?
We have PCs and Sony Playstation 1 development kits (a donation from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe). We’re currently investigating other consoles for purchase. Additionally, we even have some arcade/pinball machines and a couple of Atari ST.
Are students from other country’s allowed to follow the course and if so what do they need to do?
Naturally. All applications are through the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service – www.ucas.ac.uk
Why Q3A, is it a model for some courses? or just the best fps?
Q3A is dealt with in the first semester’s Design module and serves as a model for the design of a particular genre of game. Naturally, the degree does not revolve around just Q3A despite being the best FPS there is :).
What games are good games according to you?
My particular preference is for online, multiplayer FPS-type games although I am partial to racing games such as Gran Tourismo.
What may we expect from future games?
Increase in online gaming as bandwidth and availability increases; more sensory feedback (I’d like to be able to send (small) electric shocks to someone the other side of the world when I kill them); enhanced environments (especially on the audio side which has tended to be neglected ’till now) and games targeted at a more mature audience that has grown up with computer games.