Here are the questions you asked our panel of people who work in the games industry and app development.
In general, courses that equip candidates to be programmers may be called Computer Science, Business Computing, Business Information Systems, Software Development, Software Systems, or Computer Applications. These courses will often include a mix of technical and business subjects to ensure graduates are well equipped to walk into a job in the “real world”.
Also many of these courses also offer the option to complete an internship to allow candidates the chance to apply the knowledge they learn in college in a workplace setting.
Mark Lambe (NeverMind Games): Programming is usually called software development, or software engineering.
Courses may be called computer science, computer apps, or something similar.
Damien Murphy (SAP): Hi Manus, most programming courses are called “Computer x” where x is Applications/Engineering/Science etc.
Mark Lambe: Different courses do things different ways. I covered two main languages in my course, and looked briefly at two scripting languages.
Damien Murphy: Hi Dylan, I think “scripting languages” is a little misleading so I will use “programming languages” instead if that is OK. There are so many different courses that it is hard to give an exact number but I can tell you that I studied Java, C, HTML, Assembly, JavaCC and touched on many others but the main focus was on Java throughout my course at DCU – Computer Applications.
Josh Holmes (Microsoft): People always say have has many as you can, but I disagree: get really familiar with one or two really really well so you understand the rules, then it is much easier to transition to other languages if you need to.
Mark Lambe: There’s not a huge overlap between Leaving Cert courses and app development skills. Maths and Physics would be best, maybe Tech Graphics also.
Damien Murphy: Hi Martin, the great thing about programming is that everything you need is available on the internet already free of charge! I myself learned iPhone development by watching free iTunes University lectures on iPhone development. Obviously you would need to understand programming first but once you know the basics you could start a free course like that similarly for Android there is a plethora of information and tutorials out there for free.
Damien Murphy: Hi Peter, I have never heard of BlueJ (until now) so I guess that answers your question. After googling it a little I can see it is a university research project for teaching Java to beginners so it does sound promising but I did not use such a tool. In my opinion the best way to get started programming is to run your first “hello world” application in any language.
Mark Lambe: I have no experience with it. If you have someone to help out, XNA is excellent.
Mark Lambe: Game design is probably the weakest area in terms of courses here in Ireland. There are a few, such as this one at Ballyfermot College of Further Education – it’s more focussed towards design in an artistic/graphic design sense than game design itself, and it’s only a diploma, but it’s a good place to start. One of the best colleges you can look at in this regard is Abertay University, and if it’s game design you want to pursue, their BA course might be the best option. In saying that you’re still in third year so keep an eye out for new courses coming on stream in Ireland, it is happening quite often.
Marian Garvey: Hi Cal, it is a good idea to study a good mix of Maths, Engineering and Physics (problem solving subjects). I discussed your question with one of my candidates who has recently started a graduate gaming role. He studied Game Development in DKIT, in his opinion this course provided a strong foundation on the core concepts of gaming and gave him a practical insight into designing and building games. He then went on to study his Masters in Trinity College in Interactive Technology, which provided even greater insight in to designing and building commercial games. He really enjoyed both courses as they allowed him to learn a number of programming languages such as Java, C++ and C#.
Mark Lambe: To be honest, there’s probably not a huge amount of skills you’d carry on from Leaving Cert subjects outside of art, technical graphics and maybe a small (really small) bit of maths. There are a huge amount of opportunities in the area, graphic designers are very employable, and always have great freelancing options too (website design etc). In terms of your last questions, big companies can employ great concept artists who do most of their work on paper, and graphic designers who produce great digital art. A good combination of all three would be best.
Damien Murphy: Hi Adam, since I am not a graphics designer I asked one of my colleagues who is a graphics designer to give me his thoughts on this. Here is what he said:
“Traditional artistic skills are very important in most parts of the game design process along with very strong 3D skills and you can’t really have good 3D skills without good Photoshop and Illustrator skills. Try out some tools like GameSalad or Unity 3D, start young and try hard and aim high.
“Graphics design is a very hard industry to get into compared to traditional web or print design but there are some of the best courses in Europe here in Dublin – Ballyfermot’s course being one of the best and most industry focused but can be hard to get into.
“Candidates need to show ability in coding, maths, animation, hand drawing, modelling and effects on their portfolio but there are good portfolio courses that can help with that end of it as well.”
Marian Garvey: Hi Adam, apart from focusing on just drawing, I would recommend that you start compiling a portfolio of your drawings and graphics. Once you start in college and you complete projects, keep samples of this work too. This will help you keep track of all your hard work.
When hiring graphic designers, companies are really interested in candidates who have interests that are related to the job – i.e. photography, music, art etc.