Talking about: Games Development
BSc (Hons) Games Development Senior Lecturer Harry Holmwood has nearly 30 years’ experience in the games industry, from launching PlayStation at Sony in the 1990s to founding game studios and advising companies around the world.
We chat to Harry about the things he thinks you should know about Games Development.
What has been your journey to your role as senior lecturer now?
I started making games at the age of 11, and have been doing it professionally for almost 30 years now. I was part of the team that launched PlayStation at Sony in the 1990s, then founded a game studio which I took to an IPO in 1999.
I have been Vice-President of a US gaming hardware company and European CEO of a Japanese game publisher, and set up another game studio where I co-developed the mobile versions of the hit game Stardew Valley.
I then spent a year as interim Managing Director of a venture-capital backed game studio in London, before joining NUA as Senior Lecturer in Computer Science. I also advise companies and investors from tech giants to small studios around the world, with a particular focus on mobile and free-to-play gaming.
What is BSc Games Development?
BSc (Hons) Games Development is an exciting mix of creativity and computer science, learning how to use and develop the systems that drive the latest video games. You’ll collaborate with other programmers, designers, artists and animators from across our range of courses as you create games with industry-standard tools and technologies.
What will I study?
We start with introductory units covering the fundamentals of game programming, introducing you to programming languages including C++, widely used in the games industry and beyond.
You’ll progress onto working with Unreal Engine, the technology behind famous games like Fortnite, Hellblade and Gears of War as well as film and TV productions including The Mandalorian and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. You’ll develop in Unreal with both BluePrint visual scripting and C++.
Underpinning much of game development, and programming generally, is an understanding of logical thinking, problem solving and 3D maths and physics.
Later in the course, you’ll study advanced 3D game programming, covering topics such as shader development and multiplayer network gaming.
We’ll also study game design, the games industry itself and project management – equipping you with essential skills whether you hope to be an indie game developer or join a bigger studio to work on AAA or mobile titles.
Who should study Games Development?
The kind of people who excel at games development are those who can’t help but find out what makes things work, who take things apart and rebuild them better than before.
Game programming combines the academic side of computer science – which means you need a good grounding in maths and physics, as well as existing programming experience – with the creativity and collaboration that underpins every great game.
Above all, you need a passion for games, the ability to collaborate with people from different disciplines and the drive to push yourself to improve each day. Like learning a musical instrument, programming isn’t something you can be passively taught – you have to practice, and to develop the skills to find innovative solutions to the challenges you’ll encounter.
Where can it take me?
Games aren’t just a fun pastime, it’s the biggest entertainment industry in the world – twice the size of film and eight times the size of the music business. The biggest games are now played by hundreds of millions of people around the world- whether on PC, console or mobile.
As well as working in the games industry, a BSc (Hons) Games Development can lead to careers including:
- Film and television
- Architectural visualisation
- Simulation and virtual reality
- Mobile and web development
Why study Games at NUA?
Our team includes experienced indie developers and those with many years of experience in the games industry. We also bring in visiting lecturers from studios around the world, allowing you to learn from the very best in the games industry while helping you to build up a network of connections within the business.
Studying BSc (Hons) Games Development at NUA allows for collaboration with students from our other games courses – including our award-winning BA (Hons) Games Art and Design. This allows our students to build their own teams for collaborative projects and game jams – a team from NUA won the 2020 UKIE Student Game Jam, and we had many great entries in the 2021 Global Games Jam.