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DMU Paints A Bright Future For Youngsters In Computer Games

For immediate use: 9 August 2005

A DMU lecturer who has scooped a national teaching award worth £50,000 will be using the money to encourage youngsters to use their artistic talent in new ways.

Senior Lecturer Michael Powell will set up workshops in local schools and colleges in Leicester, to show 16 to 24-year-olds the huge potential for using art in the computer games industry, which is often perceived as technology focussed.

The workshops will feature an exciting mix of industry professionals, academics and students who hope to encourage the creative talent within the Leicester community.

Mr Powell is also starting a new BA (Hons) in Game Art Design at De Montfort University Leicester in September, which will focus on developing the artistic elements of computer game design.

Mr Powell said: "A lot of people are not aware how much 'traditional' art is involved in producing the characters and environments in computer games and they may not realise their talents are in huge demand in the games industry.

"I'm looking forward to working with young people to develop their skills in different ways and pursue artistic careers, not just along conventional routes but in areas that are relevant to their own culture.

"I am hoping to establish a pool of local young talent who may not have thought about combining their interests in this way to go to university or to find a career."

He added: "The new course starting in September is particularly exciting as it combines traditional art skills, such as drawing, painting and sculpting, with digital technology.

"Students will be able to see characters come alive in a world that they've designed and see their vision realised through the new technologies inherent in the multi-billion pound computer games industry.

"The unique selling point of the course is in the close relationships we have at DMU with the industry and our US links to a prestigious University in Phoenix, which gives our students the confidence and relevant experience to enhance their careers once they graduate."

International games giant CodemastersTM will provide teaching and expertise on the course, giving students the chance to work with leading creative professionals.

The course has evolved from the successful BA (Hons) in Multimedia Design, which Mr Powell ran from 1999 to 2003, which has also led to two other spin-off courses, Interactive Design and Animation.

Students who completed game design modules on the Multimedia course have gone on to work for a number of highly successful companies both in the UK and abroad, including CodemastersTM, Rock Star North, Blitz, Eurocom, AquaPacific, Virtual Life Inc, interactive TV specialists Watertrace and other games and animation companies.

Mr Powell gained the £50,000 award from the National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS), which recognises and rewards teachers and learning support staff in higher education for their excellence in teaching.

De Montfort University has now received seven Teaching Fellowships since the scheme began in 2000 - the joint highest number in the country, along with the University of Plymouth.

ENDS

Notes for Editors

For further information, a photograph of Michael Powell or to arrange an interview please contact the De Montfort University Press and PR Office on 0116 2577400.

There are four interlinked themes studied on the new BA (Hons) in Game Art Design:

- Interactive Design, which addresses fundamental issues of creativity and visual communication including screen-based interface and web design.

- Critical Games Studies, the analytical study of computer games, focusing on significant and influential games, the fundamental principles behind the design of games, how games function to create experiences and relating computer games to other media and cultural activities.

- Game Production, the practical exploration of content creation, including 2D digital art, 3D modelling, character design, character animation, and level design.

- Visual Design, which develops essential game art skills, such as life drawing, concept art and visualization.

The National Teaching Fellowship Scheme (NTFS) is managed by the Higher Education Academy and funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Department for Employment and Learning in Northern Ireland, as part of the individual strand of the Teaching Quality Enhancement Fund.

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