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Go Make Games: Getting Into the Industry

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Adrian Hatwell
Adrian Hatwell

Once upon a time the career path into the Video Games Industry was obscure and unsure; a little training in a tangential area, a spot of correspondence with established professionals, a large dose of luck and you were still far from guaranteed a job anywhere near the industry. Not so today.

As Video Games became a prominent cultural force the need for a more formal academic route into the industry arose, thus a job creating video games has become less a flight of fancy and more a conventional career choice. Even here in New Zealand there are a range of different courses at various institutes that will help you prepare for a future in video game development.

This is the first in planned series of articles illuminating the opportunities for game development in Aotearoa, with the purely selfish motivation of helping guide a more diverse pool of talent into the industry so they can produce more interesting kinds of games for me to play. At times our little nation might seem like an isolated, techno-culture resistant burg at the edge of the world, but in truth you don’t have to look too hard to find an inspiring local community of talented professionals working at an international level.

If you think you might be interested in becoming one of those talented professionals then you have a handful of promising options in getting your foot in the door. There’s no concrete and fail-proof road to breaking into the video game industry, or any industry for that matter, but the following courses offered throughout the country make for a solid beginning to any would-be game developer’s journey.

Game Development @ Media Design School

Media Design School in Auckland City offers a 2-year course in which one can obtain a Graduate Diploma of Game Development. Condensed into an 18-month curriculum, students can choose to specialise in either game programming or game art, and come out with a qualification specifically tailored to entering the industry upon completion.

Computer Science @ University of Otago

Described as a niche career in the realm of Computer Science, the University of Otago offers papers in Game Development, Computer Graphics, and Artificial Intelligence. While the degree itself isn’t specifically tailored to industry entry the university is home to a student chapter of the International Game Developer’s Association.

Computing and IT @ Unitech

Auckland’s Unitech offer a qualification in Computing and IT, during which students have the opportunity to learn a range of skills that can take them towards computer programming, software design, and software engineering careers. The courses aren’t specifically geared for game development but can provide students with much of the knowledge necessary to gain entry to the industry.

Bachelor of Computing and Mathematical Sciences @ Waikato University

Like Unitech, Waikato University don’t offer courses tailored specifically to video game development but rather teach a range of papers that would give students the opportunity to learn the relevant skills for creating video games, or to follow divergent career opertunities.

Information Systems and Computing @ UCOL

The Universal Colledge of Learning’s Whanganui campus offers a programme in Information Systems and Computing that, like Waikato and Unitech, teaches a broad range of computing skills that could be applied to game development, or to a career in the wider IT industry.

It should be noted that there isn’t currently an industry body in New Zealand that monitors or endorses any particular game development course; thorough research should be done before committing to anything.

A good resource to help with such decisions is the New Zealand Game Developers Association.

The next article in this series will feature a more in-depth profile of the course that, in my unqualified but still very vocal opinion, is the best of the bunch.

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