Video: Computer giant Microsoft interested in partnering Essex Games Hub

Budding games developers show off their work at the Games Hub at the University of Essex Knowledge G

Budding games developers show off their work at the Games Hub at the University of Essex Knowledge Gateway (L-R) Jolyon Berry, partner Birketts (sponsor), Steven Huckle, founder Shark Infested Custard, Lisa Mach (one of people on programme), Digby Chacksfield, Eastern Enterprise Hub, Prof Simon Lucas, University of Essex, Cllr Penny Channer, Essex County Council. - Credit: Archant

Computer giant Microsoft is interested in supporting a games developer course in Essex.

The Games Hub at the Knowledge Gateway, on the University of Essex Wivenhoe campus, offers a free 22-week course for 15 budding digitial developers.

Run by the Eastern Enterprise Hub and Shark Infested Custard, the course is partly funded by Essex County Council (ECC).

The Games Hub students are working in three teams developing a separate game each. One is a mind-stretching puzzle game, a character-based “free runner” and the third is an action adventure game.

Microsoft is now looking to support the Games Hub and possibly become a partner.

Simon Mead, chief executive of Eastern Enterprise Hub, said: “The Games Hub has shown how much can be achieved when the public and private sector get together to address an issue that affects both sides.

“As awareness grows, we are attracting more and more interested parties including possible support from Microsoft.”

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Penny Channer, deputy county councillor for economic growth, visited the centre this week.

She added: “I was tremendously excited to meet the students on what I hope will be the first of many Games Hub programmes.

“ECC has been involved from the very beginning of the idea. On a recent tour of the county for the Essex Means Business campaign, we met Professor Simon Lucas from the University of Essex’s School of Computer Science and Electronic Engineering and were very interested to hear about the exciting future ahead for this particular industry.”

ECC contributed £41,750 in economic growth strategy funding as the creative industry is seen as a growth sector in the Colchester area.

The course, led by industry pros, guides digital games entrepreneurs through all aspects of the industry, from design and feasibility to marketing, as well as the areas covered by the Eastern Enterprise Hub’s business development and support programme.

Prof Lucas said: “We are really pleased our students are involved in this exciting project as the games industry offers so many career opportunities and this sector is crying out for the kind of skilled graduates we are developing.

“This project fits perfectly with our ethos of giving our students the opportunity to work on practical real-life projects to build the experience and skills they will need in the future. Creating and designing games is becoming increasingly important to the UK’s economy.

“The Games Hub being based at our Colchester Campus is ideal as we are looking to develop an exciting technology cluster at our Parkside Office Village.”