Livingstone: Skills Review can "change perceptions of industry"

Government-backed report to be published in early 2011 and will "set a blueprint to transform the UK"

Eidos life president Ian Livingstone has revealed that the Government-backed Skills Review will be published "early in the New Year" and will "set a blueprint to transform the UK into the best source of talent and a primary destination choice for videogames production".

Outlining in detail for the first time the scope and progress of the Review, Livingstone told "It will be a substantial report with recommendations looking at the talent pipeline from junior school all the way though to HE/FE.

"Clearly the videogames industry needs graduates to come out of universities and colleges with the hard skills necessary to make games rather than just the philosophical knowledge about them."

Livingstone is leading the Review, announced by Culture Minister Ed Vaizey in July, with Alex Hope of visual effects company Double Negative, in conjunction with Skillset and NESTA.

He said it represented "an opportunity to change perceptions of the videogames industry, and raise its profile as a great careers choice for the brightest talent in the UK".

The Review team has thrown itself into the process with gusto, and Livingstone revealed that two "large scale surveys" of employers in the games industry had been launched.

He called on companies to "actively participate" in the process, stating: "The Review is a one-off chance to actually effect some real change that will benefit the industry.

"With the right data we will not only be able to make the strongest case to the government, but also capture accurately the needs of companies across all of the industry, from large console developers to small casual studios."

Livingstone, who also commented on the Review in a video produced to mark yesterday's formal rebranding of ELSPA as UKIE, predicted that it would "set a blueprint to transform the UK into the best source of talent and a primary destination choice for video games production."

He added: "We are looking at the skills that the UK's future videogames developers should be taught, and how to ensure that when they come out of education they have what it takes to make it in the industry. We will be drawing on best practice, both in the UK and overseas.

"We believe we have put in place a strategy to engage all the right stakeholders, including decision-makers in the government, as well as people in industry and education"

And UKIE director general Michael Rawlinson added his endorsement of the project.

"Improving the videogames and interactive entertainment industry's skills base is one of UKIE's key objectives," he told "UKIE already works with NESTA and sits on Skillset's Computer Games Skills Council and welcomes the Livingstone-Hope skills review as an essential step towards securing the industry's continued success.

"We look forward to contributing to the review and helping to make sure that we see more people entering the industry with the skills needed to ensure its continued growth."

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Latest comments (13)

Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College7 years ago
"Clearly the videogames industry needs graduates to come out of universities and colleges with the hard skills necessary to make games rather than just the philosophical knowledge about them."

In a nutshell, yes! Otherwise a BSc Games Development course could/would/should be renamed to BA Games History or BA Games Information.

I'm all for students to be aware of the developments and history but that shouldn't be the priority!

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kevin Clark-Patterson on 8th September 2010 2:01pm

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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.7 years ago
Game theory and history used to make up the bulk of all "video game" courses around the world. Thankfully, a lot of them have shifted to actual applied based courses which actually teach the skills required to make a video game.

Still a lot of work to be done and I applaud the UK for taking a pro-active stance at moving in a better direction.
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Tomas Lidström Lighting Artist, Rebellion7 years ago
As a post-graduate working in the industry I can very clearly see the lack of a proper connection to the actual industry in game dev unis, or atleast the one I attended (In sweden)
Few of my former classmates actually got a job in the industry with some moving to a differenty industry or even continueng to study something else because graduating from the uni and only having that going for them didnt land them a job. From what I understand, this is how it is with most unis in the world that has game design/art/programing in the portfolio.

With that said, I found the education to be a great place to expand my skillset, meet likeminded and get experience working on collaborative projects. And furthermore, the people that really wanted to get into the industry, the ones who worked long hours and had the ambition and the stamina to work hard they are the ones that make it, uni or no uni.
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Mike Reddy Course Tutor BSc Computer Game Development, University of South Wales7 years ago
I'm getting a bit bored with uneducated digs and "games studies" criticisms. A lack of connection between the games industry and higher education (HE) is a two way street. And most students doing such courses will not enter the Industry, not due to the failure of such courses, but because they are not reaching the very high (and understandable) threshold of ability that the game industry currently requires. While we are measured as "free vocational training" to fill gaps caused by high turnover, with no responsibility taken by developers (preferably with support from Government) this will continue. What I really hope Livingstone will do is also address the VERY real contribution that professional educators can bring to the UK industry. This is as much a reason for the UK being a world leader as anything else, but it has been hidden in previous discussions.
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Paul Houbart Technical Director, Gecko Software7 years ago
I recently moved into lecturing on a Games Design degree course, as I wanted to translate some of my own experience in the industry to potential new entrants. I feel our industry is too quick to criticise the quality of graduates - I've had plenty of dreadful applicants cross my desk before. But it's not enough to complain about this - as an industry, we have to do something about it. Academia can only do so much, and my limited experience of the eduction industry has shown me that without input from the games industry, they will struggle to meet the industry requirements.

I will say, however, that the financial pressure on the education bodies means their focus is on financial targets. Without a financial incentive to meet the industries requirements, more often than not they encourage students to join with thoughts of a 'glamourous' job in computer games. My students have certainly found that the level of work and ability to be alot higher than they originally thought.
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Kevin Clark-Patterson Lecturer in Games Development, Lancaster and Morecambe College7 years ago
More input from games companies would help flourish the industry leading to more ideas & creations - at the moment there is a lot of criticisim about what graduates are equiped to do or not as the case may be...

I see this as a "put up or shut up" message to games companies, which if they get involved will solve the problems they appear to be complaining about...

Your move Mr. [Games] Industry

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Kevin Clark-Patterson on 8th September 2010 4:34pm

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Antony Cain Lecturer in Computer Games Design, Sunderland College7 years ago
Mike pretty much nailed it.

This will be the first year that we don't even attempt to establish contact with game studios because we just aren't getting anywhere; we've had a few polite dismissals which is understandable but most don't even reply. The only times we get industry contact (even had a bit from Ian himself) is when we spend thousands of pounds on big events; we just can't fund that on any kind of regular basis. So, we're just focusing on getting students into HE now and hoping that they can get the right input there.

You know, there's a student forum on here which has all but died since they never get 'real' answers. Go give it a look folks!
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Adam Dickinson lead artist, Bizarre Creations7 years ago
We have recently conducted some very successful pilots with Salford university and are hoping to continue this relationship. Industry input into the very fabric and make up of these core courses is vital.
The Games courses are starting to realise that the core skills and design processes are that what make people employable.
In turn industry can recruit people with the thought process and talent to execute fresh ideas.
Most Art and design faculty's don't realise that they essentially they have the resources of a large developer under one roof, be it from interiors/set design, UI, costume and characters/vehicles, cross pollination of these courses is vital to aid each other, and in doing so also raises awareness in courses like interior design that games is a viable and exciting outlet for the most talented students. Is the way forward to take a core design course like interiors and only then go on to do a MA specialising in design for games? the core skills have to be there, not just a sprinkling of what all the other courses are offering in depth, otherwise companies will look to recruit straight out of Product design/ interior courses.
A Dickinson (Bizarre creations)
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Chris Kay Senior Level Designer, Crytek7 years ago
Good stuff - if these words actually mean something practical not just political jargon

Eventually my opinion of a games design degree might change; at this point I'd still recommend self tuition (even 10 years ago you could do it even before slews of online content became available these days) and then joining a good mod team ;)

Part of the problem is this mentality you can spend a few years learning then be industry ready, the reality is you need allot longer! It’s like learning drums for a few years then playing for Eric Clapton.

I have no idea why some students wait an till they are 17-18 before deciding they want to make game, you can start at any point your parents allow! The early bird catches the worm and all that crap.
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Mike Spence Course Leader for Game Art BA, South Thames College7 years ago
At last, this is the Leitch Review brought up to date and addressing one of Britain's last best global industries.

I knew moving from teaching games art skills at university to teaching them in FE meant that I would tongue-in-cheek eventually teach in schools and kindergarten. But actually it is becoming a reality that kids really want to learn the vocational skills involved in making games.

As Chris says, what's stopping them from starting earlier than college? We've had schools come to us stating that their students are telling them that they want to learn how to develop games. This is a really positive sign, that young people are aware of the importance of the industry.

Whilst we've made it work in pockets across the country; a solid national and perhaps official connection between schools, colleges, universities and developers is due for a successful UK Games Industry.
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Jordan Woodward Level Designer, Rebellion Developments7 years ago
The problem with a lot of universities is that they have to meet an academic requirement. This doesn't really apply to an industry where a skillset and knowledge of software are more important than, as previously mentioned, history and theory of games design.

I studied a Btec in games design and while I got distinctions, I'll admit that it wasn't really all that hard to achieve. I've just graduated from University this year with a 1st and after applying for numerous jobs in the industry and not even getting replies, I've put that on the backburner for a bit and am working freelance as a 3D visualisation artist to get a bit of experience on my CV before trying for games again.

Some universities are quite good though, through the course of my degree I built 3 games with teams of 5-12 people. Paul is absolutely right, most of the people on my course shouldn't have really been there and figured it'd be easy to strole out of university with any level of degree and get a job. That's probably due to people being accepted just to fill a quota and earn some money for the university.

You'll all be more knowledgeable than me but experience seems to be a lot more important that a good qualification, which is understandable but it's a catch 22. I think placement schemes are extremely important and while I can understand that not every company would be in a good financial position to take on placement students or interns I think it should be encouaged to help students get the experience within the industry that is required.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Jordan Woodward on 9th September 2010 4:28pm

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Yiannis Koumoutzelis Founder & Creative Director, Neriad Games7 years ago
Personally when it comes to artists i only look at their portfolio and when it comes to designers i look at their mods, and give them a test of logic and design applied in games.

The few times there are discussions with academia, they mostly care about the marketing side of it. company XYZ is working with us blah blah blah. few things of what we discuss reach their actual courses.

We have to face the fact that many students see games as a profession and not all of them as passion. In any case though, you need passion to succeed. It's not enough, by itself but it is a very important ingredient!

I think the best we can do to improve this situation is offer more internships, studio visits when possible, as well as help academia with the structure of their courses. I know many people are willing to, as long as they don't feel that their time is spent only for a school to market their product. We're all very busy, barely having time for our personal life. And this is something we need to do for the young people who love games and enter these institutes and work hard towards their graduation with high hopes and dreams and for the future of what we love most; Gaming!

What students can do, is visit more art and development forums online, visit more galleries and museums play more games :) all and different kinds of games, to see what is expected from them and decide what path they want to follow and how can they offer something equal but different or better from what is already out there. At the same time expand your interests and learn more than what your course is giving you,(clubbing does't count much!:D) from the most relevant, like interior design, architecture (ancient modern and medieval), cinematography, photography, kinesiology, ergonomics, to even seemingly irrelevant things like carpentry, psychology, masonry, internal combustion engines and biology, world history, mythology and culture, can help you immensely later on. People in design, you have no idea how much a little photoshop and sketch up or 3dsmax can help you :) write stories, have fun with all these free engines udk, unity,.. and more! I can't believe how many and high quality free, game engines are out there today, for people to learn and have fun or even make their first game!

Not everything at the same time :) spread it out through your years in college.

Games need perspiration more than than inspiration :)
There is absolutely no excuse for lack of skills today! It's all out there. Enjoy!

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Shane Sweeney Academic 7 years ago
We need both streams of education. One is no more important then the other.

No body who studies Cinema Studies at University expects to learn the skills to be able to Direct or Produce a film anymore then someone who studys Political Science expects to be a Politician.

While there is overlap between the two streams, and the difference needs to be understood. Computer Science based Games degrees and Media Study based Game Degrees, and as long as Students enrolling understand the difference (which I dont think all do) I think we will be better off.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Shane Sweeney on 10th September 2010 4:00am

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