Authors: Ken Fee
As the games industry itself has grown and matured into a global business, the demand for talented development staff has seen a corresponding proliferation of new higher education courses and programmes. Unfortunately, these have not met with universal acclaim from the industry. This sense of reservation reflects in part the harsh reality that academic courses are not required in order to work within the industry, nor are they even necessary to gain the knowledge or skills required to produce games themselves. It follows that in many cases this newfound academic support for the games industry does not stem from a professionally driven necessity, but rather from a perceived student recruitment opportunity. The consequences of this are manifest, demanding solutions and pedagogical models which do not necessarily conform to the traditional norm. However, the problem does not lie with Academia alone, but also with the expectations and inherent abilities of students applying to these courses. Just as the industry does not require qualifications of their potential employees, the students on these courses cannot rely on the conferment of the degree alone to prove their worth. In game development degrees it is the collaborative multidisciplinary learning opportunities, live project development experience and networking exposure throughout the entire duration of the course or programme that provide the educational value and advantage in higher education enrolment. In 2006, after some 25 published titles and roles in such franchises such as Lemmings, Grand Theft Auto, Medal of Honor, Harry Potter and Star Trek, I joined the University of Abertay Dundee as Programme Tutor in Game Design and Production Management. In this paper I will discuss the challenges that my team and I faced in translating genuine industrial practices into the Higher education pedagogical model, the solutions we derived, and the challenges that lie ahead.