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Enhancing Employability - The Importance of University-Industry Collaboration

Posted: 28/02/2012 11:26

Though the industry only began in the early 1970s, gaming has quickly established itself as an important economic sector - creating a wealth of new jobs, developing innovative new technologies and generating billions in revenue each year. As of 2012, the computer games sector was contributing in excess of 1 billion GBP to the UK national GDP.

Whether you're a keen gamer yourself or subjected to those around you incessantly tapping away at their smartphone or games console, interactive gaming is becoming increasingly prominent in our daily lives. Rapid growth in personal and online games, and an influx in gaming being incorporated into digital media, advertising and education, has led to a growing gap in the market for skilled games programmers, designers and artists.

Coincidentally, graduate unemployment is rising and feedback from employers suggests that the skills deficiencies of some graduates are to blame. We need to break this cycle.

Universities can create stronger industry links and ensure their students are equipped with adequate 'business-ready' skills to enter a highly competitive market-place. This is the thinking behind 'The Wilson Review' (publicly released today) that evaluates how to improve
university-industry collaboration in the UK.

At Goldsmiths, we're committed to working with our students to help them build contacts within the computer games industry and ensure that they are aware of upcoming internships and roles. As a result, this past year we witnessed our entire 2010-11 MSc Computer Games and Entertainment (MSc CGE) cohort enter industry within two months of graduating.

This activity has now come full circle - Goldsmiths was approached by world-renowned advertising agency M&C Saatchi, as the result of a recommendation by one of our former students now working for a high tech interactive graphics and games company in Cambridge, to collaborate on an exciting new event dedicated to making and developing interactive games.

On Thursday 1 March 2012, staff and students from the Department of Computing at Goldsmiths will join M&C Saachi for GAME5HACK; a 48-hour event that sees six teams of multi-skilled talent from across the M&C Saatchi Group and Goldsmiths MSc CGE working flat-out to produce innovative games based around the theme of 'Less Talk, More Play'.

The teams will be supported by industry veterans, including Andy Thomason - Goldsmiths lecturer and Senior Software Engineer at Sony SN Systems, Rik Lander - BBC Interactive drama creator, filmmaker, games developer and, founder of Touch Thing, Jim Hall - game creator and inventor of the award winning Isle of Tune, Andy Ng, Design Director of M&C Saatchi's Digital
Hub, and Dom Baker, Innovation Manager at M&C Saatchi.

In games development, collaboration is key and this event is designed to hone, develop and test the individuals' collaborative skills. GAME5HACK requires dedicated and dynamic team work and combines Goldsmiths' leading software engineering skills with M&C Saatchi's cutting edge creativity to cross new boundaries in games development and original games thinking.

Not only does the event provide our students with hands-on experience, it also gives them an opportunity to network and build professional contacts - both vital to success in the gaming world once they have graduated.

Perhaps most exciting of all is that this could be the start of a long-term relationship with M&C Saatchi. With employability at the top of agenda for universities across the country, we feel it is imperative to form fruitful partnerships with the private sector to ensure graduates are effectively matched with a wide range of potential business needs and opportunities. Such partnerships also permit us at Goldsmiths to continuously evolve and adapt our teaching and research objectives and "stay ahead of the game."