Students Staff

25 November 2014

New computer games entrepreneurs show off their work at Parkside

Computer games developers of the future are learning how to turn their ideas into money-making reality through the Games Hub based at Parkside Office Village at the University of Essex’s Knowledge Gateway research and business park.

Fifteen budding digital developers have joined the Games Hub – a free 22-week course partly funded by Essex County Council and run by the Eastern Enterprise Hub and Shark Infested Custard in partnership with the University.

Computer giant, Microsoft, is also now looking to support the Games Hub and to possibly become a partner.

Cllr Penny Channer, Essex County Council Cabinet Deputy Member for Economic Growth and Infrastructure dropped in to find out firsthand how the Games Hub teams are progressing and to be a guinea pig for their initial games prototypes.

The three teams are each developing very different games - one is a mind-stretching puzzle game, another is a character-based “free runner” and the other is an action adventure game.

Cllr Channer said: “I am tremendously excited to be meeting the students on what I hope will be the first of many Games Hub programmes. Essex County Council has been involved from the very beginning of the idea.

“On our recent tour of the county for the Essex Means Business campaign, we met Professor Simon Lucas from the University of Essex’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering and were very interested to hear about the exciting future ahead for this particular industry.”

Professor Simon Lucas, Head of the School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering at the University of Essex, said: “We are really pleased our students are involved in this exciting project as the games industry offers so many career opportunities and this sector is crying out for the kind of skilled graduates we are developing.

“This project fits perfectly with our ethos of giving our students the opportunity to work on practical real-life projects to build the experience and skills they will need in the future. Creating and designing games is becoming increasingly important to the UK’s economy.

“The Games Hub being based at our Colchester Campus is ideal as we are looking to develop an exciting technology cluster at our Parkside Office Village.”

The gaming industry is going through a period of immense growth and the market is already worth $100 billion with analysts predicting it will continue its rapid growth.

The Games Hub is a collaboration between the public, private and higher education sectors. Essex County Council contributed £41,750 in Economic Growth Strategy funding, as the creative industry is seen as a growth sector in the Colchester area.

It is free of charge to participants with the teams including students from the University of Essex and others from the surrounding area who are interested in getting into the games industry.

The course, led by industry pros, guides fledgling digital games entrepreneurs through all aspects of the industry, from design and feasibility to marketing, as well as the areas covered by the Eastern Enterprise Hub’s business development and support programme.

Partners in the Games Hub are Eastern Enterprise Hub, the University of Essex, Colchester Borough Council, Shark Infested Custard, Birketts and BDO.

Simon Mead, CEO of Eastern Enterprise Hub said: “The Games Hub has shown how much can be achieved when the public and private sector get together to address an issue that affects both sides. As awareness grows, we are attracting more and more interested parties including possible support from Microsoft.”

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