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Qantm: Braben was right about UK games courses

Qantm's marketing manager, Nic Oliver, has told <i>GamesIndustry.biz</i> that he feels David Braben's earlier comments, that games courses were five years out of date, were "totally right."

Qantm's marketing manager, Nic Oliver, has told GamesIndustry.biz that he feels David Braben's previous comments, that games courses were five years out of date, were "totally right."

He believes that there are "a worrying number of courses that are being thrown together in order to absorb the copious amounts of individuals wanting to get into their career in the games industry."

Talking after the hugely popular London Game Careers Fair this year Oliver explained that he had spoken at the event to a number of computer science degree students who had all been turned down by developers, due to a lack of maths and C++ programming experience.

One of the reasons for this, according to Oliver, is that while university courses "have a number of positive aspects, the ability to change and react to market conditions is not one of them."

"If a university can take over a year to introduce a new module to the degree, then how is it at all possible to keep up to date with an industry that has changed major technologies several times in the last 12 months and is only now just beginning to get to grips with the power of PS3 and X360?"

And while the notion of a governing body is something that he applauds, this time delay is also a problem for Skillset accredited courses: "Every time a Skillset accredited institution needs to change a module's content, it will need to seek approval, obtain authorisation and then re-validation, which would lead straight back into a university style system of taking a year for implementation."

But Oliver admits that good courses do exist, if they are few and far between

"You can spot these a mile away by asking how long they have been developing their game curriculum - this will show that they have really been following the industry trends and that they have stood the test of time.

"The top courses will have usually been going for some time now, and courses that have just begun should show how they have researched their curriculum, whether their lecturers have real games industry experience and which developers come in for guest lectures."

Ultimately Oliver's advice to prospective games industry employees is to talk to developers first, perhaps at an event such as the London Game Careers Fair, before making any decisions.

"You'll find studios will be only too pleased to give advice on the best courses and qualifications and it could save you wasting three years of your life."

Qantm, part of the SAE Institute, will be opening its UK game courses from a new facility in London shortly, following a successful pattern established in Australia in 1996.

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Phil Elliott