September 14, 2023 | University Partners

Staffordshire University Games department celebrates summer of success

Staffordshire University Games Development Department has notched up a series of impressive wins over the summer.

This includes being named as one of only a few Houdini Certified School Partners in the UK. The certification means current students on Games Art, Computer Games Design, Computer Games Design with Animation and CGI and Visual Effects are eligible for a free Education license which they can use at home.

In addition, recent graduates from these courses are eligible for a free Commercial Houdini license which they can use for freelancing or at a studio for upto a year, adding to their employability.

Course Director Dave Edwards said: “This is one of the big benefits – that we’re able to pass on industry standard software to our students and graduates. It is also a testament to the quality of work put out by our students. To qualify, our showreel is reviewed and approved by judges from over 20 studios, and that really confirms the high standard of our student work.”

Head of the Games Development department Professor Chris Headleand added: “This is a highly prestigious certification. Houdini is leading the way in procedural content generation in Games and VFX and is becoming ever more prominent in games development – it is the dominant software in the industry and with virtual production on the rise, its use will continue to grow.”

Staffordshire University is also joining a number of progressive organisations on the Women in Games Education Ambassador Programme.

Senior lecturer Dr Sharon Coleclough said: “This is a hugely positive move for our University. Being a part of Women in Games underscores our commitment to increasing diversity in the sector and provides a clear indication of how important representation is. As the largest Games Development department in the UK, we recognise our responsibility to be part of the solution, to highlight the role of women in games and to emphasise the many opportunities that exist in the industry.”

Dr Coleclough said the University plans to put on a series of events run by female academics for young women who aspire to work in the games industry but who don’t always see themselves represented.

Women in Games CEO Marie Claire Isaaman said: “Staffordshire University is one of the leading institutions in the world for video games courses, so we are delighted to welcome them onboard as Education Ambassadors. We look forward to many exciting collaboration opportunities.”

In another positive development, the BSc (Hons) Computer Games Design course delivered at Staffordshire University London has joined eight other Staffordshire University courses recognised by trade association TIGA.

All TIGA Accredited courses teach skills required by the games industry and TIGA accredits the very best courses to help prospective students and game developers to identify the universities that are developing industry-ready graduates.

Course Director Danny Flint said: “TIGA accreditation is a big deal for Staffordshire University London as it is a marker of excellence and shows that our graduates are securing jobs in the games industry. It also sends a message to students that they are guaranteed a first class student experience whether they choose to study a Computer Games course in London or at our Stoke-on-Trent campus.”

Meanwhile 30 students employed as part of the University’s 1UP placement scheme have been working throughout the summer on a series of new games which could launch commercially later this year.

The venture, which launched last summer and won the Best Education Initiative at the TIGA Games Industry Awards 2022, employs students across all levels to work as part of an in- house games studio, providing hands-on industry experience.

Course Director David James said: ”Their brief is to develop fully playable games. The process involves appointing leads in art, technology and design who are required to work as they would in industry to tight project deadlines.”

“The students have worked brilliantly together and have loved participating in this. Having Level 3 students work alongside our more experienced students and postgraduates really helps to build their confidence and skills and we look forward to seeing how the support and experience they’ve gained helps their progression.”

The students have worked to develop three games:

  • StaffsVerse – a digital re-creation of Staffordshire University which aims to help new students to familiarise themselves with campus life and the excellent support available.
  • Mech Head – a class action robot combat game
  • Mental Block – a logic based puzzle game