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Dr Chris Carter

Senior Lecturer, Computer Games Development and Augmented / Virtual Reality, School of Computer Science and Mathematics, Liverpool John Moores University

Students interested in games development can turn their passion into a career through the Computer Games Development course at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).

What is the computer games development course like?

It’s a three-year undergraduate course with a fourth year in industry and centres on software engineering to get students up to speed with the C++ programming language, expanding that into understanding different domains and what goes into building an AAA game.

What will the students learn in the course?

It will help them develop a critical eye to spot techniques and how a game is built — while playing. Coursework, centred around programming and development skills for games, are practical and involve building game prototypes and components as students demonstrate their technical ability.

Who are potential recruits for the course?

They are expected to be passionate gamers, but we are not insisting on students having maths or computer science A-levels or BTECs. We want people who are interested in learning how they can apply the toolbox. There is maths, but in the context of using it.

These elements form a developer’s toolbox for creating immersive game mechanics and understanding the right context for using them. For example, how they want a character to behave, or a car to steer, and learning the mathematical building blocks to achieve that.

Coursework, centred around programming and development skills for games, are practical and involve building game prototypes and components.

What equipment is available to students?

At LJMU, we bring the games industry to students in our laboratory and use as many industry-standard tools as possible. Our hardware is high-end Intel and Nvidia gaming machines to develop code on. With software, as C++ is the main programming language, we use Microsoft Visual Studio and have access to Unreal Engine 4+5.

We also have tools for managing codes code collaboratively and art packages for programmers to understand how to work with artists and get content into games. We belong to the PlayStation First partnership, giving students access to PlayStation 4+5 development kits.

What are the career opportunities for graduates?

They will get a foot in the door as a game programmer. A lot gravitate toward AAA video game companies and big studios as software engineers pursuing their passion and learning the latest technologies. However, they are not restricted to the gaming industry, as gaming technology is used in many different domains — whether simulation or extended reality. The skills are reusable and transferrable.

How does Liverpool’s gaming heritage benefit students?

From the early 80s, many iconic franchises have come out of this region. Liverpool remains an industry hotbed; and with smaller studios, it has a strong community feel. There are opportunities to meet developers, who are so helpful to our students, go to local events and integrate into the development community.

Dr Chris Carter has been a Senior Lecturer in the School of Computer Science and Mathematics at LJMU for 13 years. With a focus on practical software engineering for games and teaching C++ Programming and Standards, his research interests are on approaches for scalable gameplay and photorealistic graphics.

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