Alex Darby is the Technical Course Lead of Gamer Camp at Birmingham City University’s New Technology Institute in the United Kingdom. He has worked in the industry since 1996 as both a programmer and a designer, and was a founding member of FreeStyleGames – the studio that created DJ Hero.
The majority of Alex’s experience is in cross-platform console development. He has worked on eleven published titles across the majority of platforms of the last three console generations. Alex has specialised in being a generalist, which has resulted in an extensive experience of the majority of game programming disciplines, a particular interest in game system architecture and low level issues, and what he describes as a ‘barely checked OCD desire to understand entire codebases.’
Alex will be giving a session entitled Educating the Next Gen., in which he describes the unique strengths of the Game Camp program for the benefit of educators around the world. The following is an overview of his session, in his own words:
The reality of day to day game development in a working environment is vastly different from the educational bubble of undergraduate study, and the unfortunate reality is that even a very promising graduate who interviews well represents a significant risk for an employer in the game industry.
There is so much extra information to absorb, and so many skills to learn that fresh graduates – even from specialist courses – generally mandate a significant mentoring overhead on existing senior staff, and do not typically become fully functional members of the team until they have seen at least one game product through to completion.
At Gamer Camp we have an atypical, possibly unique, approach to game development education; one that is extremely practical, fundamentally industry focussed, and designed from the ground up to bridge the skills gap between traditional academia and the requirements of the game industry.
Gamer Camp is a virtual development studio. Our students work in multi-disciplinary teams from 9-to-5 in a simulated development studio environment on live project briefs. They plan, they work to schedules, they hit milestones; and the process is managed using tried and tested industry production methodologies.
The core aim of Gamer Camp is to produce graduates who can fit straight into a working development team with no more mentoring overhead than any industry experienced professional; and who are already working at the level of someone with a published title under their belt. To this end, the curricula for our flagship Gamer Camp Pro courses (MSc/MA in Video Game Development) were developed in extensive collaboration with local industry partners FreeStyleGames, Codemasters, Blitz Game Studios, and Rare. We also have extensive involvement from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe who sponsor 2 scholarship places on the course.
This session presents our approach in detail, gives insight into the genesis of it, and explains in simple terms why we think that this educational paradigm shift is needed for the good of the industry.
Alex is one of many speakers we’ll be featuring as AltDevConf draws closer. Please mark your calendars and join us February 11th and 12th for a community-focused conference event like none other!
As always, be sure to keep an eye on AltDevConf.org for additional updates.