Abertay Become UK Centre of Excellence for Computer Games

12th February 2009

The University of Abertay Dundee is to become the UK’s first ever university centre of excellence for computer games education thanks to a £3 million investment from the Scottish Government.

Abertay’s Principal and Vice-Chancellor Professor Bernard King said: “The global, interactive, creative media sector has a potential market value to Scotland of up to $68 billion by 2012. If in Scotland we are to be successful in reaping that economic growth potential, then we need to be continually producing new interactive products and upgrading our workforce’s skills.

“This significant capacity-building investment by the Scottish Government establishes Abertay as Scotland’s University Centre of Excellence in Computer Games Education. It recognises that Scotland can be a global leader in this sector, and that Abertay can drive that ambition by providing graduates with the necessary world-class skills to succeed.”

The majority of the welcome investment will be spent on the development of two new industry designed postgraduate courses and teaching and learning space to accommodate them. The studio-based masters programmes will be based on Abertay’s BAFTA -endorsed “Dare to be Digital” model with 40 graduates housed in a purpose-designed, professional environment during each 12-month course.

Games technology is an increasingly pervasive technology with broad application to a growing range of non-games issues. Computer games technology research at Abertay is already developing simulation tools for activities such as firearms training for the police, infection control models for the health service, and energy forecasting and town planning for local authorities. Abertay’s new masters programmes will focus on real-world prototyping of innovative, interactive digital products, and graduates will work in teams comprising programmers, artists, developers and production managers. The teams would be mentored by high-quality academic and industry practitioners.

Professor King continued: “At Abertay, we are both confident and ambitious about the part Scotland can play in this fast-changing, global marketplace. We believe that there is a great deal more we can do to build upon Scotland’s illustrious heritage in communication technologies and the creative industries, and that we can continue to contribute both knowledge and innovation, in order to support Scotland’s creative industries in taking the very centre of this valuable, world stage.

Paul Harris, Professor of Screen Media at Abertay said: “This major new investment by the Scottish Government is recognition of a combination of hard work from staff in establishing a portfolio of courses that are world standard, and the long term support of a number of industrial partners including: Realtime Worlds, BBC Scotland, BBC New Media, BSkyB, Channel 4, Electronic Arts, Blitz, Sony Entertainment Europe, Microsoft, Disney Interactive Media, and many others.”

Abertay is already the UK’s pre-eminent computer games and computer arts university, and has now been officially accredited by Skillset, the sector skills council for the creative media industries, as a Media Academy.

Professor Harris continued: “Not only does this accreditation acknowledge the prowess of our courses but going forward, it will provide recognition of the value and impact that our graduates can have when entering the computer games and interactive media workforces. Past graduates have gone on to work for leading animation companies such as Aardman and Disney while many have set up their own companies, with good success rates.”

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