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Future gamers get chance for free course at university

Lifestyle / Tue 18th Nov 2014 pm30 03:09pm

GamersCOMPUTER games developers of the future are learning how to turn their ideas into money-making reality in an enterprise course partly funded by Essex County Council.

Fifteen budding digital developers are taking part in the Games Hub – a free 22-week course run by the Eastern Enterprise Hub and Shark Infested Custard at Parkside Office Village on the University of Essex’s Knowledge Gateway.

Computer giant, Microsoft, is now looking to support the Games Hub and possibly become a partner.

On Wednesday 19 November, Cllr Penny Channer, Essex County Council Cabinet Deputy Member for Economic Growth and Infrastructure will find out firsthand how they are progressing and be a guinea pig for their initial games prototypes.

The Games Hub students are working in three teams developing a separate game each. One is a mind-stretching puzzle game, another is a character-based “free runner” and the other is an action adventure game.

Cllr Channer said: “I am tremendously excited to be meeting the students on what I hope will be the first of many Games Hub programmes. Essex County Council has been involved from the very beginning of the idea.

“On our recent tour of the county for the Essex Means Business campaign, we met Prof Simon Lucas from the University of Essex’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering and were very interested to hear about the exciting future ahead for this particular industry.”

The gaming industry is going through a period of immense growth. The market is already worth $100 billion and it is predicted to continue its rapid growth.

The Games Hub is a collaboration between the public, private and higher education sectors. Essex County Council contributed £41,750 in Economic Growth Strategy funding, as the creative industry is seen as a growth sector in the Colchester area.

It is free of charge to participants. Most of the people on the course are students from the University of Essex, but there is also a handful who are interested in getting into the games industry.

The course, led by industry pros, guides digital games entrepreneurs through all aspects of the industry, from design and feasibility to marketing, as well as the areas covered by the Eastern Enterprise Hub’s business development and support programme.

Partners in the Games Hub are Eastern Enterprise Hub, University of Essex, Colchester Borough Council, Shark Infested Custard, Birketts and BDO.

Professor Simon Lucas, Head of the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at the University of Essex, said: “We are really pleased our students are involved in this exciting project as the games industry offers so many career opportunities and this sector is crying out for the kind of skilled graduates we are developing.

“This project fits perfectly with our ethos of giving our students the opportunity to work on practical real-life projects to build the experience and skills they will need in the future. Creating and designing games is becoming increasingly important to the UK’s economy.

“The Games Hub being based at our Colchester Campus is ideal as we are looking to develop an exciting technology cluster at our Parkside Office Village.”

Simon Mead, CEO of Eastern Enterprise Hub said: “The Games Hub has shown how much can be achieved when the public and private sector get together to address an issue that affects both sides. As awareness grows, we are attracting more and more interested parties including possible support from Microsoft.”

Essex Means Business is an Essex County Council campaign to showcase innovation, skills and enterprise in Essex. Follow the campaign on Twitter using the hashtag #EssexMeansBusiness.

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