Edinburgh Napier students, past and present, talk about studying Games Development.

BSc Games Development

Roddy Ewles, BSc Games Development student, talks about his time studying at Edinburgh Napier.

Tell us a bit about yourselfEdinburgh Napier graduate, Roddy Ewles

I’m Roddy Ewles, I’m 29, and I studied BSc Games Development at Edinburgh Napier University. I’m Scottish, I really like playing computer games and enjoy music and play the guitar. I’m an avid Led Zeppelin fan, and I also like training and weightlifting when I can.

Why did you choose to study at Edinburgh Napier University?

I chose Edinburgh Napier University because of the games development course offered and also the facilities the university has such as the games lab.

What attracted you into studying your course?

Aside from the facilities at the university, the course content was the major factor that led me to choose the course. I had been interested in making games for years before undertaking the course and wanted a course that provided a basic understanding of the technical side of games development.

Has your course given you any practical opportunities out with standard teaching?

I was fortunate to have the opportunity to work as the assistant to the university’s senior computing technician for two summers. This was a great experience, and I learned a lot of different skills out with the curriculum offered by the course. I also had the opportunity to help at university events like the Ada Lovelace day.

Do you have any highlights of studying at Edinburgh Napier University?

I really enjoyed the Games Engineering modules and during my studies, I developed an interest in artificial intelligence. This led me to take as many elective modules in that area as I could and found them to be fascinating. I carried out my dissertation in the same area looking at using AI techniques in games development and was fortunate enough to win the Lawrence Ho prize for my dissertation. I also took part in the game jams hosted at the university that were great fun. There were also guest speakers from industry at the game jams who gave talks to us which was excellent and provided a lot of useful information.

Any challenges faced?

The biggest challenge faced was the ongoing pandemic, but a great deal was done to support us during the lockdown. We had lecture videos posted online as well as a great deal of support from our lecturers. My Dissertation Supervisor was great during this time as we had regular meetings over Skype. We received lots of communication regarding alternate arrangements.

Would you recommend the course to others? If so, why?

I would definitely recommend this course to others. It covered a cross section of different disciplines within games development while allowing the opportunity to specialise in your interests later on in the course. There was a great mix of practical work with theory and the practical parts of the course reinforced what we were learning throughout the course. We also had several opportunities to work as groups which was an excellent learning experience.

What key skills have you learned from your university experience?

I think the course gave me a good grounding in the aspects of software engineering related to games development. In addition to that, the group projects have helped my teamwork and communication skills. It has also improved my ability to manage my time and the challenges provided throughout the course have given me the opportunity to try new ways of solving these problems.

Can you sum up your student experience living in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh is a great city with a lot of things to do. There is excellent transport around the city, and it has a great atmosphere. It’s a great city to live and study in.

What advice would you give to anyone considering studying the course?

There are lots of fantastic events, in particular the game jams, you should try to go to as many as you can as they have been great. The course is challenging but also extremely rewarding. If you’re interested in making games this course is definitely for you.

What’s next?

I am interested either in working in the games industry or continuing my academic studies. I am fascinated by AI and ideally will continue in that field. My dissertation looked at AI both as a mechanic and a design tool and I am particularly interested in the way AI can influence a user’s experience. I would really like to explore the psychology as well as the effect on the brain that interactions with AI technologies can have.

Lawrence is studying Games Development at Edinburgh Napier. Read more about his journey and the highlights of his academic career so far.

When I looked at courses at other universities, they were more oriented towards Game Design & not so much the Programming side.
Edinburgh Napier seemed to have a much more in-depth programming module, which was one of the main reasons why I wanted to study here. They had more programming intensive modules, like Games Engineering where you get to go off and create your own game from scratch, which gives you really valuable knowledge for when you’re working in a career. One of the best things about that course was getting to choose your own game to implement your own game engine, which instantly made you more involved in the project, you were enthusiastic to go and work on your own thing instead of being told what to do, and that seemed like a very attractive thing about the university.  

Edinburgh Napier gave me the freedom to choose what I really want to do. 

For example, during my 4th year I chose to study artificial intelligence, which is a very specific thing that you wouldn’t normally get to do, but ENU allows me to do that, and it will really help me to get a career in the future. I don’t think any other courses would have given me the opportunity to do such a thing. 

What I like about Games Development is: 

You get to see the immediate results from any programming you’re doing, you don’t have to spend hours and hours, you can see it almost immediately. One of the other things that’s fun about Games Development is that you can get unintended consequences, and sometimes they’re really fun to keep in your games. I liked that the modules were a lot broader in the later years of the course as well, it gives you a different side of Games Development, then you get to year 4 and you’re allowed to choose what you want to do, and the freedom that gives you will allow me to choose what career I want in the future.  

If anyone’s stuck, we’re always eager to help each other out. 

The lecturers and fellow students helped me quite a lot in my understanding of the module. I couldn’t have done this without all the students here at ENU. The students that are on the course of Games & Development are all very interested in each other’s work, and if anyone’s stuck, we’re always eager to help each other out.  There’s always support there from the staff and the facilities at ENU as well.  

I’m currently studying for my honours project.  

My supervisor specialises in artificial intelligence. I had a few questions for them during my project and they went as far as looking through their old research notes to help me find out which sort of method I’d like to use. They pointed me in the right direction which was really useful. At ENU, the independence you’re provided in year 4 is backed up by the support you’re provided. The staff will help you make sure you’re not taking on anything that’s too difficult to do and they’ll make sure that you get the help you need. It gives you the confidence to be able to work on what you need to do. 

I knew it was the right course for me.  

When I realised that I was spending more time studying and completing coursework than I normally would have done, I could tell that this was the course for me. One of the proudest things that I’ve done for myself during this course was creating a working game engine, and then creating a game for that engine and then actually got to see it running properly. Moments like that have helped me to decide what I want to do after I finish my studies at ENU for Games Development. Right now, I’m hoping to go into computer graphics programming, which is the most fun and engaging module that I’ve studied so far.