"Parents are the generation that have grown up playing computer games and there's now acknowledgement that it is a viable career route."
Dr Bobbie Fletcher, Head of Games and Visual Effects
Computer Games has finally come of age, according to academics at Staffordshire University who have experienced a surge in applications for its courses.
Applications to their Computer Games Design Courses are up nearly 50 per cent on the same period last year and Computer Games Programming has seen twice as many applications from students keen to tap into one of the world’s fastest growing industries.
Head of Games and Visual Effects, Dr Bobbie Fletcher said the increase was something of a national phenomenon: “From Scotland to the South, Universities are seeing significantly greater number of attendees at Open Days in these subject areas because games are big business and parents and teachers no longer try to steer prospective students away from degree courses.
“Parents are the generation that have grown up playing computer games and there's now acknowledgement that it is a viable career route.”
Games Programming Lead Paul Roberts was recently part of a panel of industry experts at the Insomnia Gaming Festival who were invited to debate whether working in the games industry is a 'real job'.
He added: “It is a rapidly growing sector, bigger than the movie industry now, and should be taken seriously. Our Computer Games Programming graduates have a great record of securing jobs in the industry but as the sector grows there is inevitably more competition for courses and jobs.”
Staffordshire University has invested heavily in new facilities as part of a £40m transformation of its Stoke-on-Trent campus and academics feel the University is well placed to plug into rapidly growing sectors like eSports which is the practice of playing video games competitively over the internet or via networked computers in venues and stadiums.
Already Staffordshire University has responded to the Association for UK Interactive Entertainment's (ukie) white paper on eSports by introducing a module on e-Sports.
Dr Fletcher added: “The module which is available to students on our Games Studies course is a fascinating branch of cultural studies. It looks at the national, and international market for eSports, and the cultural aspects that drive it as well as the darker side of cheating and doping by eSports players. Games designers are growing up and that brings with it new trends in gaming which comes with its own set of ethical dilemmas.”
“Plans to grow the UK as an eSports hub brings huge opportunities in job creation and we are well placed as a University to explore that.”
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