NSW Universities Rejigging Degrees To Include App And Games Development

At the two developers I've worked for, there's always been a strong demand for talented programmers. You honestly can't get enough of them. It looks like NSW's educational facilities have recognised the growing need for developers and has realigned a number of courses to be more in tune with the current state of the interactive industry. Namely, iPhone and Android app development.

According to this piece in the Daily Telegraph, Wollongong Uni now has a "bachelor of computer science in multimedia and game development" that will focus on iPhone and Android apps, while Macquarie University lets students major in interactivity and games that will acclimatise them not only to app development, but website design. Finally, Sydney Uni will give "interactive technology" a thorough studying in its design and social media course.

I should point out that application development is different to games, and I'm not surprised there's a shortage of talent. Games make up the largest segment of App Store at 16 per cent, and the lure of this apparent gravy train is strong, despite it being extremely difficult to get noticed in a sea of mediocrity without the aid of Apple itself. Given the choice between creating a stock market app or the next Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja or Flight Control, the choice is almost non-existent for the tech-savvy 18-year old.

I've always been an advocate of the hands-on approach -- if you want to program, or make games, then download one of the many free programs that facilitate such development and do it. Unity, Torque, Visual Studio, MonoDevelop, Eclipse, UDK -- the list goes on. That said, a guiding hand in the form of a specific degree can't hurt. Just don't expect said to degree to automatically grant you a job, though this applies to most industries.

Image: Firemint.

Universities to teach computer games to school leavers in NSW [Daily Telegraph, thanks Danny]

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Comments

    Wollongong Uni has offered the Multimedia and Game Development major since 2006. They are planning the Mobile Computing major and could be available as early as Spring 2012.

    I wish they'd offered stuff like this when I was doing Computer Science at university. Cloesest I ever got was some computer graphics stuff.

    You're still better off doing a generic Computer Science course because it doesn't lock you into the potentially doomed prospect of only being qualified for games development.

    Every one of these articles puts a silver lining on the industry, despite the current canning of nearly all major Australian studio. Yes, mobile gaming's on the rise, but there are NO figures to give an idea of graduate employment rates. What are they? 10, 50 or 90%? We just have conjecture from Logan.

    I suppose that's unfair, especially when some of these courses have no graduates yet. How can we possibly assess the viability of these courses in training students for work when there are none graduating students who can vouch for the course content? With the creation of these new courses, what's to stop it becoming like Law? Where every accredited uni now has a Law School so now there are far more students graduating each year with a degree than there are positions to accommodate them? Why are the Go8 unis seemingly the most cautious of this game course trend?

    "Just don’t expect said to degree to automatically grant you a job, though this applies to most industries."

    While that's certainly true, the lack of transparency with what you're proposing is more worrying than in most professions. You're asking would-be devs to take a leap of faith and while this sort of pioneering is usually admirable, high school students are potentially gambling away their livelihoods for magic beans. Frankly, I'd just like some numbers.

      Agreed, better off with a more general degree... personally just for the fun of it I did games programming and phone app development as electives as part of my software engineering degree.

        You say that, but my games degree was mostly nothing to do with games-only stuff. Programming, project management yes, but not as much the other stuff

      Game development is a creative industry, which makes it both harder to get a job and easier to get started than many other industries. Its like doing a writing degree and expecting to get a job as a novelist, or a music degree and expect to be in a band by the end of it. Its obviously possible, but anyone who 'expects' a smooth, trouble-free transition into a career is deluded--in any industry! That said you can actually start your own game development group, which is ironically the best way to get yourself hired by an existing one.

      Second thing is, the Macquarie Bach of IT: Game Design and Development is built on the back of the existing Bach of IT in Software Development. We rejigged a couple of courses and added a couple to the existing framework. So, you DO get a decent, fall-back-on kind of software dev degree as well.

      Fundamentally, I actually don't want to see our students educated on how to create apps for iPhone or Android. To me, those are an obvious bubble, and are beholden to a specific corporation. I don't want to be doing training for Apple or Google, I want to be doing more broad education so our students can do design and development across a range of platforms.

      But like you say, for MQ at least, the game-focused stuff is brand-new so its impossible to give anyone even historical numbers.

        School should not be the end of the line. An education should give you the tools and methods to learn and grow. Doesn't matter what language, or what platform, is being taught. Students should be learning how to... learn.

        Education from whatever institute, whether that be TAFE or Uni, should not be the be-all and end-all of a students life in knowledge. As a lecturer once told us "I can teach you but a handful of sand from the beach of life. The rest is up to you."

      I just completed a video games related degree, while working as a video games tester. And now that I've graduated I'm going on to work for IBM.

      Completing my BSc (Games Development) has qualified me for almost any IT role, so I think your argument is invalid.

        That being said, the course seemed rather shit. I entered thinking I'd learn how to make games, and I essentially got a re-branded Bachelors of Science in Information Technology, with 1 or 2 added subjects regarding Games and 3D Animation.

    I'm currently doing game development at TAFE in Perth. Next year (for the diploma) we're focusing on Torque.

      What I should probably is add is, is that while apps are part of it its not just about apps. They're teaching us a broader understanding of game development to apply to all platforms. Torque is primarily based around browser, smart phone and handheld development. This is the 'thing' to get into right now as we have no local AAA developers.

        Very true, but you must also remember that you don't make a game in a particular engine, you make a game and choose an engine that works for it, ie. UDK=FPS, Gamebryo=big level/exploration, Unity=small digital downloads/web games/prototypes

        Good luck with your course though, I'm sure I'll see you in the industry soon enough :)

      I used to use torque (tribes 2) to make mods and maps when I was 13. No kidding. I personally think knowing how to make apps etc would be a great addition to any IT degree and I don't think they're a "Bubble" as someone put before.

    I completed an advanced diploma in multimedia and games development back in 2007 in Melbourne, course was offered since 2005 - we were the second lot of graduates (two year course).

    Nothing new really. In 1991 we made a Yahtzee game at TAFE for my Advanced Certificate in Computer programming. In COBOL. Anyone that's worked with COBOL will know that she's an unforgiving logic loop/error pain in the ...

    Then in 1998 for my BIT, the introduction to programming module, we had to make a poker game in VB.

    Apps are just the next logical step.

    This is not good news at all, Game development is a creative industry and the last thing we need are more PHD's with some 3D or programming skills trying to get in. what we need is for universities to stop trying to make money and realise that qualifications DON'T make better game developers!!!

    People need to be telling Y12 students that a degree isn't the best option and that to get into games, qualifications only muddy your perspective and force you to spend your time doing irrelevant theory when the real work is in the playable fun!!!

    I hate this mentality that's pushed on kids that you need to go to uni to be successful!! if you're doing a theoretical or life altering course then sure, law, medicine, IT and business are perfect for uni, but GameDev really is an art and should be treated as such!!!

    /endrant

      I don't agree with this. One thing that trained programmers have that people who teach themselves is a shared language and structure. For major projects, this is critical, because it means that solutions can be interpreted by other programmers. That said, I'd strongly recommend doing side projects as well, as just doing your Uni assignments really isn't enough and probably doesn't encourage the "creative" component your talking about.

    Most of the online gambling jobs are in the UK/Gibraltar/Malta.

    It would be probably better to have a Software Engineering degree majoring in games development. I did Software Engineering and we learnt Java. Guess what language Android uses? Java. Using the concepts learned in university, I have self-taught myself .NET out of pure necessity to keep myself agile in the employment marketplace. Guess what uses that? XNA. I've also picked up quite a few other languages on my travels all because my degree taught me the underlying concepts behind development.

    Games development though requires a certain subset of that to be stronger (such as vector math and memory management) as well as a different mindset when approaching problems so really, it should only be a year or two extra on top of the SE degree to gain that knowledge. Now you can be either a games developer or applications developer.

    I find it quite amusing that I've known a few people that have been hired for a mainstream development job though a game they wrote.

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