Game design

Game design is an incredibly popular choice for young people with a creative flair and a skill for computer programming. Studying game design can help you build on your passion for computer games but it also enables you to consider careers in a wide range of industries.

While still a relatively young industry, gaming has achieved phenomenal success and continues to grow at an incredibly rapid pace - even surpassing the Hollywood box office in terms of annual revenue.

There has never been a better time to join the games industry. The gaming industry is thriving due to the immense popularity for games, the exciting new generation of hardware, outstanding software, and boundless creativity, content and technology developed by highly skilled people who are passionate about games.

Game developers are constantly given new opportunities to push the boundaries of their craft to create compelling new game experiences. The design and creation of a new game is a huge technical and artistic project with many different people skilled in Art and Animation, Design, Programming, Scriptwriting and Journalism, contributing to its realization and success.

Artistic and animation job opportunities exist in the following sectors: Computer Games Development And Electronic Entertainment; Design Visualisation; Animation; Visual Effects Production; Interaction Design; Interactive Audio; Content Creation for TV, Film, Advertising And Marketing.

Typical job titles include Computer Generated Imagery (CGI) Artist, Animator, Modeler, Compositor, Effects Artist, Technical Director (TD), Lead Designer, User Interface Designer, Creative Director.

There is also now a worldwide shortage of Game Programmers and a constant demand for first-rate computer programmers with knowledge of developing applications using middleware such as game engines.

Creative Skillsset gives some useful insight into the different roles here.

Serious games promises to be one of the most rewarding sectors of the global economy over future years with new and expanding markets in Asia (particularly India, South Korea, China, and Singapore) bringing new challenges and opportunities.

1. Will my game design degree from the Netherlands be recognised?

A degree in game design obtained with the European Union will be recognised. However it is important to check the programmes offered by different universities to find the most suitable degree as content of topics taught can be different to the UK.

There are some excellent Dutch universities that offer cutting-edge courses in Game Design.

2. Does it make sense to study game design in the Netherlands?

Yes, it does. At many universities it is mandatory to undertake an industrial placement to gain valuable work experience in the market and to increase your attractiveness in terms of employability after graduation.

3. What grades do I need to get in?

This differs in terms of the university you decide to go to. Keep in mind; there are world-class universities where you will need world-class grades just as there are in the United Kingdom. It is a safe assumption that you will need to have A- Levels in Maths and other relevant subjects in order to be able to study Game Design programming at university.

4. What else should I bear in mind?

As already mentioned, we think the most important thing for you to consider is whether your degree is recognised. After you have clarified that, then you have the choice of some excellent universities in the Netherlands.

5. The Games industry in the Netherlands

The Netherlands is quite a hub of indie game development with several organisations supporting the industry including Dutch Game Garden, the Dutch Games Association, and the, the global directory for business opportunities, partners and contacts across the globe.

Notable annual Dutch Game Industry events include INDIGO, a showcase of Dutch innovative game design; The Festival of Games, an event for game businesses and entrepreneurs; and the Global Game Jam NL, part of the Global Game Jam that takes place worldwide.

6. Undergraduate game design degrees in the Netherlands

Breda University of Applied Science’s BA in International Games Architecture and Design (IGAD) offers specialisations on Visual Art, Programming, Design and Production, and Indie Game Development. NHTV is an official partner of Sony and is a member of the PlayStation® First Academic Partnership Programme. This means NHTV students develop games for PlayStation 3 (PS3), PlayStation Portable (PSP) and PlayStation Network (PSN). PlayStation® hardware and software play a central role in the teaching curriculum of the IGAD course.

Students of the BSc in Game Design at Hanze University of Applied Sciences work on game concepts, 2D and 3D artwork, game development and game evaluation. While working in a team, students learn how to turn a game concept into a final product and how to involve the end user in the development of the product. There is extra emphasis on research, innovation, intercultural communication and entrepreneurship. Furthermore, students work on developing specific professional skills needed as a game designer, game artist, game developer or game evaluator.

7. Postgraduate degrees in game design in the Netherlands

Breda University of Applied Science’s MSc in Game Design is a tailor-made programme offered to programmers and visual artists. A strong technical approach is used and by the end of the one-year course, programmers are skilled research-oriented problem solvers, and visual artists accomplished technical artists.

The University of Amsterdam’s MSc in Game Studies is an interdisciplinary field of study at the cutting edge of information studies, psychology, (new) media studies and intelligent computing systems. It focuses on the advanced analysis of games at an academic level, and aims to translate the needs of stakeholders and theoretical knowledge into innovative game concepts.

The University of Utrecht’s MSc in Game and Media Technology (research) focuses on the technological aspects of gaming and multimedia in the context of computer science.

Some thoughts from game design students at Dutch universities

Samuel Gilbert


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