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Written by Christophor "SuperGuido" Rick   
Thursday, 12 July 2007

Get in the game at University of Bradford, that's in the Uk by the way. The UK’s first ‘game academy’ has been created by some of the country’s top video games developers and universities for computer games training.

The University of Bradford has teamed up with the University of Hull and Sheffield Hallam University to create the Game Republic Academy (GRA) in collaboration with games industry leaders including Rockstar (famed for the hugely popular Grand Theft Auto series), Team17 and Sumo.

Screen Yorkshire, the regional screen agency, and Game Republic, the trade association for the games industry in Yorkshire, have committed £120,000 for GRA to run for two years providing scholarship opportunities for people across the world to study for a Masters in video game development alongside unique work experience opportunities.

Peter Cowling, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Bradford, said: "We are delighted to be one of the three leading universities in the UK providing video games courses now in collaboration with the Game Republic Academy.

“We are exceptionally placed to offer students the kind of training the industry is crying out for. With high profile industry figures pointing towards AI (Artificial Intelligence) as the next big thing for commercial games, we are able to offer our new AI for Games Masters programme - the first of its kind in the world.

“Game Republic Academy's support will allow talented graduates from this programme to be part of the AI revolution in commercial games."

GRA-affiliated companies such as Rockstar will employ students during summer periods and allow them to carry out their final year projects at their offices, giving them access to the companies’ experience and equipment. GRA will seek further links with industry over the next two years and aims to win a further £30,000 of investment from games companies.

It’s a timely development for the video games sector and follows calls from Creative Industries Minister, Shaun Woodward, for games academies to be set up in the UK. Speaking last week at the launch of Government’s report into the performance of the country’s creative industries, Woodward stated that video games are a hugely important part of the economy and that games academies would attract the talent the UK needs to maintain its success as the largest games development community in Europe.

One of the key threats facing the video games business is a lack of suitably trained graduates. Whilst there has been a proliferation of computer games courses in recent years, there is a worry throughout the industry that these are of unsuitable quality.

A career in games development demands exceptional talent and such a highly technical skill-set that a Masters degree is vital - but students are often deterred by additional study primarily due to high tuition fees.

GRA removes these barriers by providing up to £3,000 of sponsorship per student and works closely with industry to ensure appropriate skills and knowledge are covered in the courses. Each institution also uses visiting lecturers from the industry.

Jonathan Purdy, Director of Games Studies at the University of Hull, said: “We are very pleased to be involved in the Game Republic Academy and are particularly please to have the support and backing of the games industry.

“This collaboration should ensure that the brightest talent is given the training and resources required to pursue a career in the computer games industry.”

Students are invited to apply for the Masters courses in Artificial Intelligence for Games at the University of Bradford, Games Programming at the University of Hull, or Entertainment Software at Sheffield Hallam, which start this September.

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