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Industry luminaries slam universities' games courses

Molyneux, Livingstone, Braben on how to fix UK games training - plus video report on skills review, Train2Game and Abertay

A number of leading UK games industry figures have highlighted the problems with education and training for prospective young developers.

In a report by Eurogamer TV (watchable below), Eidos life president Ian Livingstone, currently working on a government-endorsed skills review, claimed that "the problem with a lot of universities is they offer sort of generalist courses.

"They've crossed out the word media studies and put computer game studies. But they haven't actually had a dialogue with industry. We do not need them teaching a philosophy about games, we need computer science, art and animation."

Observed Frontier's David Braben, "there's been more than a 50 per cent drop off in the number of applicants to computer science courses at university. And that's in the backdrop of a rise of 24 per cent in university entrants.

"There are a lot incentives for universities to increase the number of students, because universities are now paid per seat and... there is no quality test for what that seat is worth in the sense of what is taught. So some subjects are a lot easier and a lot cheaper to teach than others."

Mastertronic's Andy Payne felt that there was not enough dialogue between universities and developers. "I would argue that our education needs more direct contact with the games industry, and I think that's down to the games industry to properly reach out to higher education, and then higher education understanding what the games industry really needs.

"It's not that we haven't got the talent, we just don't produce the finished article."

Students at GameLab, supported by London Metropolitan University, were critical of other courses. Said trainee Mark Rance, "I've had friends other universities that were a bit disillusioned by them, finding they were generally a lot of theory and they just ended up essentially being able to review games by the end of it."

By contrast, Lionhead's Peter Molyneux was concerned that some courses were too specialised to be future-proofed. "The games industry changes so quickly that, by the time a student has gone through their three year course, the games industry could have changed radically."

The full report, which also investigates controversial course Train2Game, discusses the success of Abertay University and talks to MP Ed Vaizey about government support for the games industry, is below.

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Alec Meer avatar
Alec Meer: A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.
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