Thursday, 24 April 2014

Life Changing or Career Building?

Since I started this course, and now coming close to the end of second year I am very happy with my progress and how much I have improved not just as an artist, but as a working machine. Being in such a competitive market has made me and many others on the course really push to do the best we can in our line of [hopeful] work. But is it really enough to have some university teaching and a portfolio at the end of three years learning it all?

Over the recent years, games courses have become increasingly popular as they have become easier to gain access to. Young students want to learn what it takes to make your own game and thrive in that industry. However it has become increasingly obvious that there really just isn’t enough jobs in that industry for graduates. Many industry professionals even admit that they don’t tend to look at an applicant’s CV if their work isn’t what they’re looking for. Oli Christie, founder of Neon Play Studios explains that “a candidate who can demonstrate their ability, be it the form of a completed game, a physics demo or impressive artwork is help in far higher regard by studios than a qualification.” This is understandable as with such a visual aspect, why would you look at how good at maths someone is if they can’t produce the work you’re really looking for?

I think that the danger with a games course is that modules and projects can be heavily directed and gives no artistic freedom to the graduate. Senior Producer at Firefly Studios, Paul Harris says “Work created at university is ok, but it’s often quite dry or lacking in imagination.” So this suggests they get a lot of art traffic which they say no to. This doesn’t make me sweat however, as I feel that on my course we are directed with some projects and others give us almost complete freedom which requires you to scope down to your own capable skill. I also feel that we create some very unique and creative artworks, influenced by traditional masters.

Paul Harris also goes on to talk about how work created in spare time and outside of a course usually has more flair. As a student myself I know that myself and my course mates share knowledge and tutorials to learn from. As well as this we have the fortune of having constant communication other year groups on the course. With all of these credible sources a great deal can be learnt which may not be found in an online tutorial or during a seminar or lecture.

Many among the gaming community tend to discredit most artists and designers because of the majority who lack some key skills or don’t have that spark which is sought after. This mainly appears to do with the idea that graduates that have learnt to be a game designer or game artist won’t have the necessary skills to do any other job. However, being on a course that focusses heavily on both 2D and 3D gives us the opportunity to have a wide range of skills which cover multiple tasks as well as the potential to go into any other visually creative industry, such as film or advertising.

Although I agree that studying a game art course or not have their own pros and cons, I do feel that studying how the industry works and what employers look for in their employees is very important. I am lucky enough to be on a course which has many very passionate industry professionals that have worked in the field since I was a boy. Because of this there is a range of skills; old and new which I hope will give everyone on my course that edge when it comes to showing what we can do.

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