July 24, 2019

Stephen sitting on a couch at Cardiff Met and smiling

Hi, my name is Stephen Johnson and I’m a second year BSc (Hons) Computer Games Design and Development student.

When I originally decided to study at university, I began a degree in Journalism. I was already interested in the games industry at this point and wanted to pursue a career in Games Journalism. As I studied theories and techniques around news reporting in my class time, I focused a lot of my free time learning Games theory. This led on to more technical research which eventually led to me trying out programming.

When I decided Games Development was better suited for me, I researched courses all over the UK and found that each one roughly fell into two categories. There was design, which was mainly aimed at artists, or programming. However, when I investigated the course being offered at Cardiff Met, they were offering something different. Their course focused on the games industry as a whole, allowing students to experience all aspects of what they might expect working for games studios. This was the crucial factor that made me decide to come and study at Cardiff Met.

Stephen programming on a computer in a university lab

Over my last two years on the course, we’ve looked at everything from 3D modelling, to software management and design techniques, to real-time rendering from a graphics card to theories behind popular mechanics in gaming. There are also opportunities to build your knowledge in other technology subjects and we’d often have guest lectures from other fields important to Games, such as music or storytelling.

The lecturers behind the course also keep in touch with industry bodies to keep standards up to date and to adapt modules to maximise employability. One example of this is the Games Workshop. Students across all years can use this time to develop their own game ideas and get help and feedback from lecturers. It’s a great environment to build your portfolio, which is a crucial part of landing your first job in the industry.

Another example of helping employability is work experience. Students have the option to take a year during their course to work in industry. Before you decide to take this opportunity or not, you get some preparation for it by having a work experience module in second year. For my placement, I worked on a university-based business called FOVOTec, which researches and develops new technologies for human perception. I was able to draw on all my last two years of experience to help them tailor one of their technologies for use in Games.

Working with them was a great opportunity to get experience in the industry. It went so well that I was hired to continue working with them, which wouldn’t have happened if I had studied a course that didn’t offer work experience. It also helped cement my decision to specialise in graphics programming, which I’ll be basing my dissertation around.

Stephen sitting on a couch and talking

Due to picking the course and how it’s been taught, I feel I have a far greater knowledge of my chosen industry than if I’d gone to study anywhere else. While I might have also learnt popular programming languages like C++ or used Game Engines like Unity in most other Games courses, in Cardiff Met they are used as stepping stones for much more complex theories. We’ve used programming languages of all different kinds, not just to learn proper syntax, but to understand how coding works as a whole, so we’re prepared to pick up any language we may need in the world of work.

I’m excited to soon begin my third year and continue to develop my range of knowledge to give me the edge I need in my future job applications. I already have a good amount of work on my portfolio and work experience, so I can focus on doing as well as I possibly can in my last year modules. This was all thanks to Cardiff Met and the amazing support I’ve had from staff and lecturers. If you’re currently looking for a Games course, seriously consider Cardiff Metropolitan University and what they can offer you!