Pulse College Galway leading the way in video games development education

Famed for its creativity and music scene, Galway is quickly becoming a central hub for game development in Ireland. At the forefront of this rise in game development in the city is Pulse College. Located on the Fairgreen Road in the city, Pulse College’s Galway campus was established in 2013, with the objective to produce gaming development graduates who are industry ready when they have completed their course.

“We build every student from the ground up,” says Chris Colston, course coordinator at Pulse’s Galway campus. “You don’t need to have any experience of game development so if you are coming in fresh that is not a problem, but basic things like computer literacy are a big plus.”

Pulse College’s video games development programmes offer the student an opportunity to obtain a hands-on understanding of video games design and development. There are two courses, each lasting for two years; a full time option and a part-time course course. Small, intermediate, introductory courses are also available to give people a sampler of what a course in games development will entail. “The full time course is a complete game development course,” explains Colston. “Students would start by learning the basics; Java Script, 3D modelling, audio and visual storytelling, and then in second year students will pick a specialisation; this can be art or technical. On the technical side of the things, students would spend their second year studying more advanced programming. If the student decides to specialise in art, they will learn about more advanced texturing techniques which involves a lot of 2D art.”

In terms of making games, students will have the chance to make games for a wide number of platforms during their education at Pulse College. “Over the duration of the two year course, a student would be expected to make between six and eight games,” Colston states. “First year students build a 2D side-scroller game like metroid mania or hack and slash type game and then you would build a 3D game which tends to be a narrative based project or a story game. The student also builds a mobile game for android and IOS and an experimental game for whatever platform the student chooses. Then a final year 3D project will be completed.”

And those skills that are garnered from the games development course at Pulse College are already bearing fruit as the current class of second years revealed their racing game, Radical Racers, at the Galway Gaming Expo at the Bank of Ireland startup gathering last Saturday.

Colston highlights that although many graduates will go on to work in games development, it does not confine them to the sector. “The good thing about learning skills in games is that the techniques are transferable. If you can 3D model for games you can 3D model for architecture. It’s very open ended. You are not pigeon-holing yourself.”

“Every single member of staff is an active member of the gaming community”

One of the most interesting and enticing aspects for prospective students is that every tutor at Pulse College is currently working in the industry. “It is massively important to us,” highlights David Williams head of game department at Pulse College. “One of the things we pride ourselves on is that every single member of staff is an active member of the gaming community so they are productively working in games at the moment. It’s their day-to-day job as well as lecturing, so if any time something happens in the studio or in their realistic workplace they can come into the classroom and say to their students, this is what’s affecting us in our game at the moment or indeed how the students will be affected when they graduate and enter the industry.”

Pulse College endeavours to partake in Ireland’s thriving gaming community. The college hosted three game jams in Galway last year and organised a charity ‘Doom and Death’ match with John Romero, designer of best selling games such as Doom and Wolfenstein, and raised more than 200€ for local charity Cancer Care West.

“We try to get our students involved in as many community gaming events as we can. There was the iDIG music festival in Dublin recently and it was a music and games festival in the RDS in the national convention centre. We had a team participating in the Game Jam and we actually won against the other colleges,” says Williams.

And the gaming community in Galway itself continues to grow with the previously mentioned John Romero working in the city and as Colston notes the rising numbers at game meet-ups. “When I first started out we were hosting meet-ups in the Cottage Bar and there were about 15 people attending. At the Expo last Saturday near enough 100 people came through the doors, which for us, the gaming community of Galway, is pretty cool.”

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