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Brighton-based Company NCsoft Europe Supports First Computer Games Apprenticeship

NCsoft offers a qualification in Quality Assurance And Games Production

Thursday 12th April/ Top games publisher NCsoft is working alongside the City College Brighton, PartnerTrans and Skillset to pilot the very first Apprenticeship in Quality Assurance and Games Production. The Apprenticeship focuses on games testing (which involves finding flaws and bugs in computer games) and also improving the general gaming experience for the player.

This apprenticeship was developed as a response to a desire, expressed by the games industry, to develop more practical skills for the industry. Skillset helped to identify this gap in its Sector Skills Agreement for the industry. This move indicates a good stepping-stone for the industry and academic partners in the benefits of working in partnership and increases opportunities for minority groups.

Chris Chilton, Computer Games & Animation Manager at Skillset, said: "Skillset's Apprenticeship in QA and Games Production is a key part of the Computer Games Industry's skills strategy. It offers a structured entry point outside of the games industry's traditional academic routes. The apprenticeship is led and delivered by the games industry, with the trainee spending the majority of the time with a company being mentored by an experienced practitioner. NCsoft support has been vital in Skillset's development and piloting of the scheme and in offering trainees the opportunity to work in this exciting sector whilst earning a recognised qualification."

Four trainees were enrolled onto the scheme, which has seen three of them enter into the QA team at NCsoft in Brighton for a year long work placement supplemented by regular college training at the City College Brighton. The City and Guilds are awarding the Apprenticeships, the UK's leading awarding body for work-related qualifications. The Apprenticeship will ultimately lead to a level 2 qualification. Moreover, trainees will gain an essential mix of practical and theoretical games knowledge.

Sam Watts, QA Manager at NCsoft Europe makers of games such as Lineage, City of Heroes and Guild Wars is acting as a mentor on the apprenticeship programme and consultant to City College Brighton. He told us: "Being involved in the shaping of the future Apprenticeship and mentoring the candidates allows me to pass my experience on to potential future full-time employees; or just be happy in the knowledge that they are able to gain employment elsewhere with a sound understanding of the fast-paced games industry."

All three trainees at NCsoft Europe are reported to be enjoying the Apprenticeship and are doing very well. Adam Bilbrough, one of the four apprentices, said of his experiences on the pilot: "I took this Apprenticeship so that I can gain the skills and knowledge required for the role in the QA aspect of the games industry, as well as get a recognised qualification in this career."

It is hoped that after the Apprenticeship is assessed in 2007, other companies will follow NCsoft's lead and set up similar schemes and, in turn, help form a more systematic entry route into the games industry.

Ends.

About NCsoft Europe

NCsoft Europe (NC-E) is headquartered in Brighton, England and is part of Korea-based NCsoft Corporation, the world's leading developer and publisher of online games. NCsoft has already successfully established itself in North America, Japan, Taiwan, China and Thailand. NC-E began operations on 1st September 2004 and serves as a central hub for all NCsoft sales, marketing and distribution operations in Europe, via its European distribution network. NC-E currently services Auto Assault®, Lineage® II, City of Heroes®, City of Villains, Guild Wars® and Guild Wars Factions in Europe. More information about NCsoft Europe can be found at http://www.plaync.com

EDITORS' NOTES - For further information please contact in the first instance:

Anna Larke

Barrington Harvey

Tel: UK +44 (0) 1462 456780

anna.larke@bhpr.co.uk

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