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NZ's first degrees for game developers

The gaming industry is booming and insiders say there has never been a better time to consider a career in games. And Media Design School is introducing New Zealand's first game development degrees to its lineup of courses and is now taking enrolments for August.

Frances ValintineA Media Design School spokesperson said NZQA had given the go ahead for the Bachelor of Creative Technologies (Game Art) and Bachelor of Software Engineering (Game Programming) and some current diploma students would be be cross-crediting into year two of the degree.

The three-year programmes have been developed in collaboration with local and international game studios and will include project-based learning to replicate the studio environment.

Chief executive Frances Valintine (pictured) said few industries offered the job security and level of salary that game graduates receive.

“The New Zealand game industry is growing due to the global demand for game content across all platforms — console, mobile, PC and online. This growth has continued year-on-year for over a decade and the projected future demand for game programmers and game artists exceeds the level of qualified graduates who enter the sector each year,” said Valintine.

According to New Zealand Game Development Association chairperson Stephen Knightly, there has never been a better time to enter the industry.

“Video games are high-tech, creative, digital exports – exactly the kind of products New Zealand wants to export more of."

Knightly said the skills used when making games are also highly transferable to corporate IT, web design, advertising and animation.

The Bachelor of Software Engineering includes an overview of C++ as well as constructing, testing and debugging basic computer games, and management strategies for collaborative game production.

The Bachelor of Creative Technologies focuses on game art and design, 3D modelling, 2D and 3D visual assets, creative problem solving, middleware and the principles of architecture and game environments.

Both degrees culminate in the completion of a major game production in the final year.

Media Design School has been supplying the game industry with talent since 2004 when it launched the Graduate Diploma of Game Development.

The school offers several other design and technology-centred qualifications at diploma/graduate certificate/graduate diploma level, and one other bachelor's degree – the Bachelor of Art and Design, which had its first intake in February this year.