Govt approves first electronic game degrees

By Ben Chapman-Smith

Now is a great time to consider a career in games, said NZGDA chair Stephen Knightly. Photo / The Aucklander
Now is a great time to consider a career in games, said NZGDA chair Stephen Knightly. Photo / The Aucklander

Fresh on the heels of a national game industry conference in the weekend, approval has been granted for New Zealand's first ever game development degrees.

The NZQA has given the green light for Auckland's Media Design School to run two degrees aimed at supplying the country's thriving games industry with new talent.

From August, aspiring developers and designers will be able to study Bachelor of Creative Technologies (Game Art) and Bachelor of Software Engineering (Game Programming) degrees.

Offering world-class degrees in a high growth digital sector is a natural and exciting progression, said Media Design School CEO Frances Valintine.

"The New Zealand game industry is growing due to the global demand for game content across all platforms - console, mobile, PC and online."

Valintine said projected future demand for game programmers and artists exceeds the level of qualified graduates entering the sector each year.

Few industries offer the job security and level of salary that game graduates receive, she said.

The degrees have been developed with input from local and international game studios and will offer students projects designed to replicate the studio environment.

According to a survey by the New Zealand Game Development Association (NZDGA), the local games industry grew 46 per cent, or by 114 jobs, last year and there are now about 450 full-time game development jobs in the country.

Over 200 industry players attended New Zealand's second ever game developer conference in Auckland on Saturday. The first conference, named Fuse, was held in 2004 at Otago University.

It is a great time to consider a career in games, said NZDGA chair Stephen Knightly.

"Video games are high-tech, creative, digital exports - exactly the kind of products New Zealand wants to export more of."

Knightly said game development skills are highly transferable to other areas of the digital sector, such as web design, advertising and animation.

As part of its Bachelor of Computing, Communications and Technology Degree, the Waiariki Institute of Technology was granted approval in December last year to run a Game Development Major. The course will have its first graduates at the end of this year.

The Media Design School has been running a Graduate Diploma of Game Development since 2004.

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