People often ask us ‘how can I get a job in games?' and sadly, being massively into games isn’t going to be enough to swing your dream job these days. Sorry!
Due to the popularity of the games industry and the large number of people trying to break into it, there are very few companies left who will hire self-taught individuals at entry-level. This means that having a relevant university course under your belt is a must-have for the leading studios.
Whilst there will be a few success stories from the odd person who managed to break in without formal qualification, your best bet is to start looking at Universities, and the most helpful thing I can do for you is share some highlights of the best Unis out there for Games (IMHO)!
Of course, the first step is to choose what subject you want to study. This is going to be a very personal choice so I'll let you make that decision for yourself.
The chances are you'll naturally gravitate towards either art or development, but top examples of recommended courses to get a job in games include:
- Computer Science
- Computer Games Technology
- Game Design and Production
- Computer Arts
- Software Engineering
You can check out the Which! University guide for an extensive list of similar courses.
How to pick your university
Once you’ve made up your mind and you know which subject you're going to study, here are some key things to research when you start looking at universities.
- Is the university located in an area that’s a games hub so that you can get involved with local companies? You can find out on Ukie’s interactive games map
- Are there any studios affiliated or getting involved with the university? Check out their social media pages and blogs to find out.
- Does the university have an incubator program that prepares you for the world of work?
- What’s the background of the lecturers? Do they have commercial experience and connections within the industry? You can use LinkedIn to research tutors past experience.
- What technologies are included in the curriculum? I would suggest that you want to be learning, Unity and Unreal for programming, or Maya and 3ds Max on the art side.
- Are there local meetups or game jams in the surrounding area? MeetUp is a great way to find groups that might be of interest in your area.
Also, be sure to have a read of The Guardian's 20 top tips to picking a university and course that’s right for you. It's a more general look at picking a university, but most points are relevant when looking for games courses too!
My university recommendations
If you took a look at Ukie's UK Games Map you’ll have seen there are around 102 universities in the UK that could help you on your way to securing your dream job games. To help with the overload I’ve narrowed it down a bit with my top recommendations.
Abertay University, Dundee
Probably not the best-known university in the world, unless you work in the games industry that is! Abertay University has been the stand out institution for Games for some time, having been voted Europe’s top university for the games industry for 5 years consecutively.
This accolade is supported by the university’s recent launch of the £12m InGAME partnership, which carries out innovative research and R&D support to games companies in the city and beyond.
Although Falmouth only has a handful of studios (which includes Antimatter Games) the university has a very good reputation. Beyond the undergraduate degree, Falmouth University also has a very successful games Launchpad. This provides students with a well-funded route into the industry working on cutting edge R&D projects. The Launchpad is lead by the highly talented Nick Dixon who was Creative Director at Blitz and then worked at the likes of Frontier and Supermassive,
University of Greenwich
On the banks of the Thames, University of Greenwich is a quintessential red brick university (where they filmed Thor, Four Weddings and a Funeral, Children of Men and the Kings Speech), it also has a great team of lecturers who are highly passionate and engaged with the professional games industry. Darrenlloyd Gent, who is the principal lecturer and undergraduate coordinator has up until recently been running the well-attended London Unity User group.
Kingston University London
Kingston University is very good at enabling their students to go into employment following further education. Undergraduate and Master students always have a presence at the likes of Develop Conference and Rezzed showcasing their games. Ever present in their support with this is an undergraduate lecturer and post-grad supervisor Hope Caton. Hope’s background as a leading games writer (having worked) on titles such as Tomb Raider IV: the last revelation) means that her students are under excellent guidance.
University of Brighton
After London, Brighton is one of the UK’s largest games hubs. It’s home Studio Gobo, Unity and Hangar 13 to name just a few! The University of Brighton has a host of games related courses that offer project work, game jams, and placements which put learning into practice. Brighton also plays host to Develop Conference every July, which offers students the perfect opportunity to network and meet with studios from all over Europe.
Hallam has become recognised as one of the leading institutes for games courses. Currently, they offer 10 games related degrees. The university again benefits from the city is the home of Develop studio of the year Sumo Digital, along with dozens of other smaller studios. Sheffield’s courses, the city lifestyle, and culture, as well as the surrounding Peak District, make Sheffield Hallam a top consideration for games-related courses. Although maybe I am slightly biased as a member of the Hallam alumni.
Now's the perfect time
Clearing for 2019 is already open and applications for 2020 intake can be made via UCAS as early as 4th September 2019 so if you’re looking to undertake a games degree now is the time to start looking.
My top tip is to be sure to visit as many universities as possible. Get a feel for which one suits you best. Sheffield Hallam was not a strong consideration for me until I visited and loved the university and city.
And if you have questions at any point, please feel free to get in touch!
Whether you're just entering into the games industry or you've been part of it for several years, if you're looking for any support or advice around employment and employability, do not hesitate to contact me or any of the team at Skillsearch for a chat about your options.