UK Games Archive

30 09 2008

I’m pleased to see this being set up by one of my local universities; I was present for the launch of GameCity and the announcement of this:

An archive to preserve the history of videogames is being set up by university experts.

Nottingham Trent University says the global videogames industry is worth about £22bn and steps are needed in order to record its development.

The archive will be housed at the National Media Museum in Bradford and put together by researchers from Nottingham Trent University.

The collection will include consoles, cartridges and advertising campaigns.

The archive will chart the history of videogames from Pong in 1972 to present-day blockbusters.

A lot of people won’t appreciate just how necessary this is, yet as Dr. James Newman points out countless works from other media have been lost over time due to a lack of these kind of efforts. A minority of people in the comics community have been agitated for years over the lack of a similar archive for comics, while important indie work piles up and gets forgotten.

Despite similar efforts for film, plenty of celluloid film has simply rotted away, and that’s somewhat due to it languishing under copyright law for decades at a time. That games are a retail product will no doubt make that less of a barrier to collecting and archiving important games and the media surrounding them.

(CC image by Brainless Angel)





Game Design: Scottish Curriculum

16 04 2008

\"wear science\"

An interesting move in Scotland: Game design skills are to be taught as part of the national curriculum there.

A drop in enrolment for university computing courses has resulted in a lack of qualified computer experts when the government wants Scotland to be at the forefront of a knowledge economy. Academics believe the fall is a result of the rise and fall of the dot.com industries.

Maureen Watt, Minister for Schools and Skills, said: “There is huge confidence that Scotland will continue to play an important part in the future of video games and interactive entertainment and we are focusing on establishing firm foundations for lifelong learning and, for some, specialised study and careers.

This seems ideal. Too many courses in the UK are crap, rebranded media courses with games tacked on to sex them up and boost enrollment. Somewhere near the end of their degree, it dawns on the third year students that they have no decent CS training and will probably not be able to get a job working in the industry.

It’s not in the interests of rubbish media courses to expose the nature of game development to prospective students, but “Oooh! Games!” really shouldn’t be such a big part of the decision making process for something as important as a university. Bad games courses are irresponsible with regard to student’s futures and the reputations of institutions.

A bad games degree can be rescued by a disciplined master’s degree, but few students follow that path. Given the age at which most of the UK’s bedroom programmers started to learn to code, it seems a very good idea to expose game development to people much earlier, thus letting kids either get it out of their system at an early age, or learn that they love games and will put in what they need to to become developers.

(Image from Wear Science!)





BGi becomes a reality

5 01 2007

After 3 years of Pixel-Lab campaigning and discusing the BGI (UK Games Academy) Ministers are starting to talk about it.

The creative industries minister Shaun Woodward has called for developers to solve the problems facing recruiters by forming an academy to educate those looking to get into the games industry. Speaking to the Financial Times today, he said that the “best way for the video games industry to have the talent and the skills it wants is to move into the hot seat itself; to come to the government and say ‘we want to put some money into an academy’.”

What he called a “school for geeks” would not only target those looking to get into games but those usually left out by traditional academia: “You might have kids who traditionally have quite a difficult time coping with traditional academic subjects but happen to be the most amazing gamers… you have to look very creatively at the kind of educational background you want.”

“They’re now recognising that ‘actually we’re huge, maybe we need to build our own institutional bricks’,” the minister added of the games academy. “You see television and films schools but we don’t have a video-games school. Why not? Because [the sector] is so new. And yet we’re the third largest manufacturer in the world.”

Woodward said he was confident that there would be private sector support for the theorised initiative – although he was not pressed further on whether the support would be from developers, publishers, or third party financers.

A number of studios around the world already have links to established universities and colleges, and EA even has its own EA University program, however there is no such dedicated games academy such as the London Film School, for instance.