Young games developers are getting the inside track on the industry thanks to a partnership with a Banbury-based business.
Banbury and Bicester College has joined forces with Ragtag Developments to offer students access to teaching from award-winning industry professionals and opportunities for work experience.
Rich Hancock, joint founder of Ragtag, an interactive software development studio, is helping students to develop skills in computer animation and interactive media as part of the Extended Diploma in Games Development, launched this year.
The partnership has also helped to shape the design of a new £60,000 games development suite at the college.
Mr Hancock said: “Our company is based at the Colin Sanders Business Innovation Centre, which is managed by the college, and I started meeting with the teaching staff last year to explore possible links.
“I started doing some teaching and really enjoyed it and have since worked with the college to develop the new diploma.
“We want to ensure that the course really prepares students for a career in the industry. As a result we have helped to create a classroom which is more like a working studio. Even simple things like arranging the desks in a quadrant, facing in, helps to simulate the right team environment which the students will recognise when they enter the industry.
“During the course students work on four key projects, where they make real products. To be able to show these products to a potential employer really demonstrates that the students have the skills required to succeed.”
David Clarke, aged 16, from Banbury, is among the first students to take the course.
He said: “I have loved computer games since I was young and have an ambition to make my own game, which is nothing like anything that has gone before.
“This course appealed because it prepares you for working in the industry. Because the teachers are working in industry now, it gives you a real insight into what it will be like. You can learn from their experiences as well as from their technical skills.”
Rose Turner, principal of the college, which is part of Activate Learning, said: “One of our key priorities is connecting with employers to ensure that the skills students learn on their course reflect those required by industry.
“This not only gives our students the best chances of securing employment, but gives employers the chance to shape their workforce of the future.
“The work with Ragtag Developments is an excellent example of this approach and is giving students an experience which they simply can’t find elsewhere.”
To find out more about this course and others offered by the college, go along to an open event on January 28 from 4pm-7pm at the Banbury campus in Broughton Road.