Partner Spotlight: Staffordshire University

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Staffordshire University joined our Grads In Games initiative this year as a host for our first ever Search for a Star Art finals & conference day event.

Founded in 1914, Staffordshire University are situated at the heart of the UK, with two campuses in Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford. Established as one of the top universities for games based courses in the UK, Staffordshire has recently been name the top university for studying Games Design by leading industry publication PC Pro. Their TIGA-backed Games Design course equips their students with the skills and knowledge they need to set up their own games design studios after universities.

Other games based courses the university offer include Games Art, Computer Games Animation and Computer Games Programming, all of which are some of the highest ranked games courses in the UK.

Staffordshire maintain a unique partnership with US based game developers Epic Games, and in 2014, they launched The Epic Games Centre within their Stafford campus. The centre offers a fully equipped space for Game Design students to ripen their developer skills with guidance from Epic Games’ European Territory Manager Mike Gamble. In total, Mike has over two decades of experience across various video games and companies. As a visiting professor to the university, Mike provides his personal insights and professional experience in video games to guide the students towards their first steps into the industry.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Our close connection with Epic Games has been hugely rewarding for the university and our students.[/pullquote]

Mike says, “Being a part of Staffordshire University has been a rewarding experience. It’s been a pleasure to share my knowledge of the industry with the students and give them advice about working in the competitive games industry. Every year, talented games students graduate from the university, and it’s been wonderful to see them secure graduate roles in the games industry.”

The Epic Games Centre also plays host to Unreal Developer Days, which are open to anyone with an active Unreal Engine 4 subscription. Officially the first educational institute in Europe to receive Unreal Engine software and have it on site, students and staff members receive industry insights and training from Epic’s engineering, design and support team members.

Staffordshire’s enthusiasm for gaming doesn’t end there; the excellent facilities and games courses has led them to become leading participants in The Global Games Jam. Students, staff and alumni from Staffordshire University all get together to compete against hundreds of other organisations, companies and universities to develop an original computer game in just 48 hours.

James Butcher, Senior Lecturer at Games Design & Technology told us, “Our Epic Games Centre is a brilliant space for students to express their creativity, and it was a pleasure to host the first Search For A Star competition there and share our excellent facilities.”

The implementation of Epic Games also led to the birth of student gaming team Critical Pixel in 2013. Using Epic’s Unreal Development Kit, the team got together to compete in the Make Something Unreal Live 2013 competition, for which they won second place. And the team didn’t stop there; they entered Gadget Show Live the same year and created a third person adventure platform game PolyMorph.

The university’s close relationship with the gaming world is of real benefit for the students. As James says, “Our close connection with Epic Games has been hugely rewarding for the university and our students. Mike’s wealth of experience and knowledge of the industry has been an inspiring experience for the university’s games students and graduates. The provision of Unreal Engine technology has been a fantastic advantage for the students, helping them to produce quality work for their portfolios.”

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