Latham To Speak In Dublin.

William Latham will be coming to Dublin to speak on the evening of Feb the 8th at 7pm in the Digital Hub. Sponsored by Enterprise Ireland and the Digital Hub the talk will be part of a day long event to launch the Dare to be Digital Competition in Ireland.

Latham, who is CEO of Games Audit Ltd, and has a wealth of experience in the games industry (see biography below) will give a retrospective talk of his work from 1985 to 2007.

Covering his early work as an artist, his Genetic Mutation Art work at IBM, his work as CEO of Computer Artworks Ltd for 10 years which produced hit titles such as The THING through to his work as CEO of Games Audit where he works for Investment companies investing in the games industry and in the area of completion bonding.

Recently, Latham returned to his early evolution work (frozen since 1993) with the Mutator2 code connecting the old Mutation and Form Grow systems into modern genetics research, with very surprising results.

Williams’ Bio:

Formerly William Latham was CEO of Computer Artworks, which developed the hit The THING for Playstation2, Xbox and PC, which was based on the John Carpenter film of the same name. He has also worked on hit games for Warner Interactive, Mattel and Virgin Interactive.

From 1987 to 1994 he worked for IBM in their Advanced Computer Graphics and Visualisation Division where his pioneering work on Procedural / Mutation work achieved world wide recognition at SIGGRAPH and other events.

William has a wealth of experience in games development and business and has closed and managed deals with Microsoft, Nokia, Atari, Vivendi Universal, SCi, Sony SCEE and Virgin Interactive. He has direct experience in film rights negotiation, copyright issues, games negotiation, digital assets management and games technology development.

In 2004, recognising the ongoing increase in games budgets and increasing investment from financial organisations outside the games industry William founded Games Audit – a project management and audit operation for the games industry.

William has an MA from The Royal College of Art and a BA from Oxford University, and is on the Advisory Board of the Develop Conference in Brighton and the Bradford Animation Festival.

In 2005 he became Professor of Creative Technology at Leeds Metropolitan University and is a visiting Senior Research Fellow of Goldsmiths College (University of London). He remains CEO of Games Audit Ltd.

More information on the Dare to be Digital Information Day at http://www.daretobedigitalireland.com/events.htm

Note: the talk will take place in the Auditorium in the old MLE building (walk past the Digital Hub Information office on thomas Street walking towards Guinnesses (i.e away from Christ Church Cathedral) and take the next left. Entrance will be on your left, about 200 metres down.

Latham Talk

William Latham, CEO of Games Audit Ltd., in the UK, will be coming to Dublin to speak on the evening of Feb the 8th at 7pm in the Digital Hub.

Sponsored by Enterprise Ireland and the Digital Hub the talk will be part of a day long event to launch the Dare to be Digital Competition in Ireland.

All invited. Attendance free so spread the word.

Note: the talk will take place in the Auditorium in the old MLE building (walk past the Digital Hub Information office on thomas Street walking towards Guinnesses i.e away from Christ Church Cathedral) and take the next left.

Entrance will be on your left, about 200 metres down.

Groove Games Establish Skillground In Ireland

It appears to be a good month for announcements of game related startups in Ireland.

Groove Games, of Toronto, Canada, and publisher of Xbox and PC games like WarPath (2005) and Playboy: The Mansion (2004), has established a presence in the Digital Hub in Dublin, Ireland.

Operating as SkillGround, the company will offer online gamers the ability to play video games for money. Their site, www.skillground.com will be officially launched later this spring but is up and running now if you want to check it out.

In Dublin the company has begun hiring and has recently been joined by Damian Ryan, formerly known to gd.ie readers for his involvement in establishing the Digital Media Awards (2002) and the Golden Spider Awards (1996) as well as online agencies; ICAN in 1998 and Brando in 2005.

SkillGround have informed us that they have a number of commercial, sales and advertising positions open at the moment which we will be posting in the jobs section of gd.ie soon.

Dare To Be Digital Info. Day

The Dare Information Session for students, tutors and industry takes place on Thurs, Feb. 8th in the Digital Exchange, Crane St, in The Digital Hub, in Dublin.

The event kicks off around midday and includes time for networking, a guest speaker and presentations by judges and participants who have taken part in the event in previous years.

This year the winning Irish teams will spend 9 of the 10 weeks working on their game in Ireland and one week in Scotland.

For more information see http://www.daretobedigitalireland.com/events.htm

and to register to attend or more information contact
daretobedigital@thedigitalhub.com

Dare To Be Digital Info Day

The launch of Dare to be Digital this year will take place on the 8th of February in the Digital Exchange, Crane Street in Dublin 8.

Start time – Midday

More information at http://www.daretobedigitalireland.com/details.htm

Magee Appoints Ernest Adams

During the November shindig and CGames Ernest Adams was in Ireland doing his highly popular workshops and he revealed that he had been appointed visiting professor at the University of Ulster, Magee based in Derry, Northern Ireland.

When contacted about the appointment the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems at Magee told us that they had been successful in obtaining funding, from the Royal Academy of Engineering, to appoint Ernest Adams as a Visiting Professor, under its Integrated System Design scheme.

As many of the gd.ie readers will know, Ernest Adams, is an author and games consultant with over 17 years experience working for companies such as THQ, Ubisoft, Elixir Studios and Electronic Arts. As part of the appointment he will deliver a number of workshops on games design and development from the perspective of integrated systems.

Professor Martin McGinnity, lead applicant on the funding proposal said:

“I am delighted that we have been successful in appointing someone of Ernest’s calibre and experience as a Visiting Professor to the School of Computing and Intelligent Systems and am sure he will make a significant contribution to the school over the next three years. He will bring a fantastic insight and experience to our students in terms of real commercial aspects of computer games development”

In September 2005 the School launched two new degree programmes focusing on computer game design and development. By gaining an appreciation of the technical challenges involved in the design of highly sophisticated integrated systems such as computer games, students are developing a range of skills which will greatly increase their employment opportunities within the sector”.

The first week-long workshop will begin on Monday 22nd of January, 2007 on the Magee campus. During this workshop participants will cover a range of topics including:

*An overview of the interactive entertainment industry,
*Fundamentals of game design,
*Balancing game mechanics,
*Principles of character design.

A second workshop is scheduled to run just before Easter with two further week long workshops planned for 2008 and 2009.

More information regarding these events can be obtained from: Dr. Shane Wilson (e-mail: s.wilson@ulster.ac.uk).

For more see
Press release on new courses at http://news.ulster.ac.uk/releases/2005/1794.html

Info on
BSc (Hons) Multimedia Computer Games
http://prospectus.ulster.ac.uk/course/?id=3712#4

BEng (Hons) Computer Game Development
http://prospectus.ulster.ac.uk/course/?id=3059

Games Education In Ireland Ii – The Academic Perspective

The first is from Dave Bustard and Darryl Charles of the School of Computing at the University of Ulster (Coleraine), Northern Ireland and the second is from Emmett Kilbride at Ballyfermot Senior College, Dublin in the Republic. I received many more e-mails with regard to the feature and some suggested it is a good topic for a face to face discussion rather than a feature. Perhaps it is something for a future Awakenings or other games conference?

Response 1: Dave Bustard, Darryl Charles, University of Ulster (Coleraine), Northern Ireland.
This article raises many debating points but our response concentrates on two of the more central issues: the implications of having the word ‘games’ in a course title; and developing suitable designs for games courses.

Course Titles
The article seems to be suggesting that all courses with ‘games’ in the title share the same objectives. Is that true? Currently, for example, the University of Ulster offers a number of combination courses with the structure ‘X with Y’, meaning two-thirds of subject X with one-third of subject Y. This includes ‘Computing with Business’ and ‘Business with Computing’. Hopefully, no one would assume that these are the same, as the first is designed for those aiming for a career in Computing while the second focuses on Business. Likewise, our offering in Digital Games is the BSc Hons Computing (Digital Games Development), which is intended to indicate that we offer a degree in Computing, with a ‘pathway’ or specialism, in Digital Games Development. Our goal is to produce graduates ready for the computing industry, in general, together with knowledge of the games industry and some experience of digital games development. In particular, each student has a significant final year project that involves the design and development of a small game, the results of which can feed into a portfolio to impress potential employers. Some students may also continue to postgraduate study.

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Course Design
Over many years, governments have been pushing higher education institutions towards business models that have students as ‘customers’. The article seems to go one step further by implying that employers are actually the main customers, with graduates as the ‘product’. Is that appropriate? In practice, both perspectives are relevant but are simply two of many factors and constraints that need to recognised and balanced in designing any course. Another, for example, is the gap between course design and the emergence of the first graduates. This requires some forward speculation as the requirements and employment prospects for a subject like Computing, and even more so with Digital Games, may well change substantially in the intervening period. In practice, this issue is handled by updating course content every year, with major reviews and revisions implemented on a larger cycle.

In relation to Digital Games teaching at the University of Ulster (Coleraine), the main design decision in covering this topic was to decide that it would be part of a general degree in Computing rather than taught as a main subject. This is because the games job market is relatively small and seems likely to stay that way. We wished to give students an opportunity to seek a job in Digital Games but also to have the wider knowledge and skills that allow them to consider other careers. This is especially important as those who enter the games industry don’t always stay in it. A broader course also gives students more flexibility when their interests change or their performance in some areas is less than the subject requires. In our case, students can switch in and out of the BSc Hons Computing (Digital Games Development) course and indeed can take all of the games options and still opt to graduate with a BSc Hons Computing degree.

Dave Bustard, Darryl Charles
University of Ulster (Coleraine)
10 Jan. 2007

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Response 2: Emmett Kilbride – Ballyfermot Senior College, Dublin.
Firstly let me start by saying that in my opinion education is much more than simply delivering programmes based around specific applications. It involves developing the social skills of students: how to work in a team, how to meet deadlines and recognise authority and respond in an appropriate way. There are no modules that teach these skills and it is indeed the teachers that impart this vital knowledge throughout the academic year.

Having links with industry could be an important part of a course. However, there are issues that companies must be aware of. In the past, it has been my experience that companies have an agenda when it comes to developing student skills. Companies naturally try to influence the curriculum in the direction that they see as being viable at that particular time. An example of this might be when an animation company wants students with strong animation skills. While this may be true of one company what about the other company who want students with scene and modelling skills. A balance must always be sought for the benefit of students. Ballyfermots’ courses are designed to try and meet the various needs of employers as much as possible. Hence the college has both games courses and animation courses.

Companies are also responsible for the training of their employees. Life long learning is now recognised as an important aspect of all workers employment. In this way companies can develop an employee’s direction and skills to suit that particular company. Education should not stop when the student leaves the college.

Course Updates
At this point I think it is worth mentioning the way in which modules are written and then implemented into a course. Firstly the teachers get together and discuss what changes need to be made to a module to keep it relevant. A teacher is then assigned to update or write the new module. This is no easy task. There is a particular format in which the module must be written and all aspects and outcomes expected must appear in the module descriptor. This then moves to the internal verification system within the college itself. If it passes it then goes to the NQAI for submission as a Locally Devised Module. This will then be further scrutinised before approval is obtained.

This process can take an extremely long time as there are many submissions from colleges that must be accessed. The system is there to protect the students from receiving sub standard teaching and modules. When the module is passed it can then be implemented into the course curriculum the following year. Module descriptors must adhere to stringent quality guidelines as set down by the national awarding bodies, FETAC and HETAC.

Short Courses
In relation to the ‘courses are too short’ comment I feel I must respond in the following way. Today in BCFE we have the Ludo One year course. This programme is an introduction to the various aspects of game creation. Students can then progress to the two year HND in computer games. Here the skills students obtained are taken a step further and an advanced set of skills can be obtained. Upon completion of this, and provided a merit profile is obtained, the students can further progress to a one year degree programme which is validated by DCU.

It is possible for a student who meets the entry requirements of 5 passes for the Ludo course to leave BCFE with a Degree in Media Production Management, not to mention all the other skills that have been obtained. No other Further Education facility offers this unique progression towards a recognised degree and it is something that we are very proud of in the college.

The Ludo course offers a simulated Work Experience module. The classes are divided into the various sections and teams such as graphics, sound, programming and so on. This provides students with the opportunity to work in a team environment. I personally think this is crucial, so much so that it is a core module on the programme, which means every student who wishes to receive a full award must partake in the module.

Another point worth mentioning is that students from the two-year programme CGHND have entered the Dare to be Digital competition and last year the team won their heat in Ireland and went on to represent Ireland in Edinburgh.

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Links with Industry and Resource Issues
As with everything in education and business, it is dependant on funding. How many industry experienced individuals are willing to come and teach in a college when it would mean a significant cut in wages. Guest lecturers are indeed a good idea but again we come across the same issue, are employers of these professionals willing to allow their personnel time off to come and provide lectures?.

BCFE has to make difficult budgetary decisions every year. Two years ago it was decided to invest yet again in the games course. New computers and software was purchased and so the course was upgraded. We moved to max 7 which had just been released. Now in an ideal world the Ludo course would have max 9, new core duo computers, all the latest software and so on and so on. However this is not the case nor will it ever be. The games industry offers no funding whatsoever to BCFE in relation to equipment or software.

I have a discussion with my students every year about not having the latest computers and software. Indeed some students may have a superior computer system at home. However I think, and I stress this to the students, that there is terrific value in working with older programmes and computers. In real life and in the industry it is seldom that a company will upgrade their computers or software every six months. There is a lesson to be learned in the way that we have to deal with these deficiencies. It is in my opinion a valuable lesson. Students and teachers must use work arounds and think creatively as to how to achieve a solution to the various problems that will and often do arise.

BCFE will be hosting the Animates festival in 2007. Industry specialists will be offering workshops and discussions on all aspects of animation and graphics within the games industry and the wider animation industry. Funding will be sought from the industry here in Ireland and we are hoping that companies will realise what an opportunity this represents for the Irish gaming industry. The key question is will this funding be forthcoming?. We have the contacts but the payment of these lecturers and the cost associated with hosting an event of this size and calibre is the key issue. The games industry cannot complain about the lack of industry guest speakers and interaction if it is not willing to help with funding these opportunities.

And finally
It is difficult to justify preparing the students for the game industry alone. The multi media industry in all its various forms is also an employer and as there are not a huge number of employers or indeed a large games industry to speak of here in Ireland it would be remiss of the college to focus on this one area alone. Students must be given the widest opportunity of achieving employment and the skills they obtain must in some way reflect this.

Perhaps the most interesting thing is the fact that both sides of a complex problem are recognised. Both the industry and the education sector have very different needs and it is doubtful whether these needs will ever totally converge, however discussion and a setting out of the various problems and challenges that lie ahead can only be seen as a good thing.

Emmet Kilbride BA (Hons.) MedProMan
Ludo Course Co-ordinator, BCFE.

Editor’s Note:
If you want to comment on this article please go to Education threads on the boards at
http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/forums/viewforum.php?f=17

More information on courses and research at the institutions mentioned above:

UU (Coleraine)
BSc Hons Computing (Digital Games Development) with DIS
http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/courses/viewcourse.php?article=21v

or http://prospectus.ulster.ac.uk/course/?id=3311

See also the blog of the games research group at UU at http://creativecomputingcoleraine.blogspot.com/

Ballyfermot Senior College Dublin.
HND in Computer Games Design
http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/courses/viewcourse.php?article=7
Computer Games and Interactive Entertainment Development (LUDO)
http://www.gamedevelopers.ie/courses/viewcourse.php?article=8

or see http://216.240.136.7/bcfe/courseinfo.php?course=31
and http://216.240.136.7/bcfe/courseinfo.php?course=32

Dare To Be Digital Info

The following has been forwarded to us by the Digital Hub.

More info to follow shortly.

****

The Digital Hub hopes to hold the biggest Dare to be Digital competition to date in 2007. For the first time Dare to be Digital is an all island competition with one team from the north and south representing Ireland.

The teams will be hosted in Ireland for the first 9 weeks of the final and will then travel to Scotland to compete with teams from Scotland, Wales and England. The final games will be showcased at the Edinburgh festival before the final judging.

This competition is a must for current 3rd level students and eligible recent graduates that are interested in representing Ireland at the Dare to be Digital final in Scotland in 2007.

Please visit www.daretobedigitalireland.com for more information. (revised address is now live)

Demonware Support Gd.Ie

Those who are awake this morning will have noticed that we have a new logo on the top of the homepage!

Gd.ie is pleased to announce that DemonWare has kindly agreed to support gamedevelopers.ie in an agreement which will see the website not only able to pay its ongoing maintenance and hosting costs but also start to commission more features and articles over the next two – three years.

Speaking to gd.ie Dylan Collins, CEO of DemonWare, said, “We’re very proud to be involved with gamedevelopers.ie as it’s a fantastic resource for students and crucial to the development of the Irish games industry”

Gamedevelopers.ie is currently run by a group of volunteers who source content and fix any technical problems which may arise. The website relies on the game development community at large: industry, students and interested others, to contribute content, ideas and funds.

Gamedevelopers.ie developed out of a university research project conducted in DCU during 2000 by Dr. Aphra Kerr. It was developed by two DCU multimedia students, Paul May and John Lynch and launched in March 2003. The website was redesigned by Ian Hannigan, Dave Kearney, John Lynch and other gd.ie people in 2005. The website development and running costs for the first three years were supported by Nokia and 02 Ireland.

Note on DemonWare:
DemonWare is a network middleware provider for nextgen consoles and PC. DemonWare was founded in 2003 by Dylan Collins and Sean Blanchfield. They have offices in Dublin, Ireland (Headquarters), Los Angeles (Sales) and Vancouver (Support).

For more see http://www.DemonWare.net/

Internet Assoc Events In Jan.

Introduction to Online Marketing
Date: Thursday, 18th January 2007
Time: 9am – 1pm
Venue: Engineers Ireland, 22 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Cost: €145 Members (€195 Non-Members)

The IIA are delighted to present this half day seminar in conjunction with Online-Marketing : http://iia.chtah.com/a/tBFo2HMAbbNMLA47y2lAbc-ciFH/online

The seminar is an introduction to the principles of online marketing. The seminar will demonstrate how you can use online marketing to drive customers to your site, how to get the highest click through rates from search engines and how to measure your return on investment.

Writing for the Web
Date: Wednesday, 31st January 2007
Time: 9.30am – 5pm
Venue: Engineers Ireland, 22 Clyde Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Cost: €220 Members (€270 Non-Members)

The IIA and iQ Content http://iia.chtah.com/a/tBFo2HMAbbNMLA47y2lAbc-ciFH/iq present the second in the Masterclass series on Writing for the Web.

The Masterclass is designed for both public and private sector and will be of particular interest to Marketing Managers, Communications Managers, Content Writers, Editors, Webmasters and Online Sales personnel.


Places are limited, book early to avoid disappointment.

To view the full course outline or for more details, email mailto:events@iia.ie or visit http://iia.chtah.com/a/tBFo2HMAbbNMLA47y2lAbc-ciFH/event119