Video games industry ‘wary’ of interns

Firms want courses fine-tuned to equip students with the skills they need

March 6, 2014

Video games firms are too “scared” to let vocational degree students on work placements carry out tasks because they lack the skills needed to work in the industry.

Many students on video games courses are also failing to make a complete game during their studies, according to industry experts and academics speaking at the launch of a network that aims to improve links between graduates and the industry.

It comes despite a huge growth in such courses, which have been previously endorsed by ministers as an example of how vocational degrees are important in preparing people for employment.

The Business and University Games Syndicate (BUGS), which was launched in central London on 24 February, wants universities with gaming courses to ensure that students are required to make a complete game during their studies.

Jon Hare, the chief executive of Tower Studios and one of the founding members of BUGS, said that students are making graphics and bits of programming, but not complete games. As a result, those on work placements are not getting the chance to learn skills.

“I’ve sat there and watched companies scared to actually employ [work placement students] to do something because they are scared that they are going to break something because they are not industry ready,” Mr Hare said. However, he said that universities have been “surprisingly cooperative” about solving the problem. So far, 10 institutions, including the universities of Bedfordshire, Portsmouth and Westminster, have signed up to BUGS.

Speaking to Times Higher Education at the event, Peter Lovell, talent acquisition manager at Jagex Games Studio, said that he tends to employ physics, maths and computer science graduates because those from gaming degree courses often lack the skills required.

Ian Livingstone, vice-chairman of trade body Ukie and former chairman of video game publisher Eidos, told the event: “There are simply not enough computer programmers that are of high-enough quality.” In 2011, Mr Livingstone co-authored a report that found that visual effects firms were recruiting from overseas, while just 12 per cent of UK graduates were going on to work in the industry within six months of leaving university.

Carsten Maple, pro vice-chancellor for research and enterprise at the University of Bedfordshire, told THE that the problem stemmed from the way modular degree schemes were designed to allow students to dip in and out. “That does not encourage a full game at the end,” he added.

Times Higher Education free 30-day trial

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

question marks PhD study

Selecting the right doctorate is crucial for success. Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O'Gorman share top 10 tips on how to pick a PhD

India, UK, flag

Sir Keith Burnett reflects on what he learned about international students while in India with the UK prime minister

Pencil lying on open diary

Requesting a log of daily activity means that trust between the institution and the scholar has broken down, says Toby Miller

Microlight pilot flies with flock of cranes

Reports of UK-based researchers already thinking of moving overseas after Brexit vote

Portrait montage of Donald Trump and Nigel Farage

From Donald Trump to Brexit, John Morgan considers the challenges of a new international political climate