Livingstone-Hope Skills Review: UK can build a ‘golden age’ of games development

Computer Science should be brought into the national curriculum in order to encourage the next generation of Game Developers. That’s according to the Livingstone-Hope skills review which was launched today and the Train2Game blog was in attendance at the event.

The review highlights an educational ‘blind spot’ in traditional institutions but suggests if some changes are made the UK can build a ‘Golden Age’ of video games education.

The report’s authors – Ian Livingstone OBE and Alex Hope – suggest that if the UK’s video games industry overcomes existing barriers to growth and keeps up with its global competitors, it stands to generate £1 billion more sales by 2014.

However, the report shows that there is little awareness of the UK’s excellent achievements in the games industry.  Only 3% of young people and 21% of art, ICT, maths and physics & science teachers interviewed know that top-selling video games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and ‘SingStar’ were developed in the UK.

The report also reveals that the education system is not equipping students with the skills needed by the games industry. Despite physics being vital to gaining employment in these industries, less than 5% of UK art, ICT, maths and physics & science teachers surveyed think that physics is one of the most important subjects to study for a career in video game development or visual effects.

The Livingstone-Hope skill review also suggests ICT education doesn’t equip students with the programming skills required to enter the games industry, and recommends it should become a compulsory part of education in schools.

Key recommendations of the 88 page report are:

  • Computer science must be part of the school national curriculum.
  • Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) should include industry-accredited specialist courses in video games and visual effects in their list of ‘Strategically Important and Vulnerable’ subjects that merit targeted funding.
  • Young people must be given more opportunity to study art and technology together.

Ian Livingstone, Life President of Eidos, and author of the report said:

“Video games production plays to the UK’s twin strengths of creativity and high-technology and ticks all the boxes for the digital economy. But despite young people being passionate about video games, they are unaware that games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’ and ‘SingStar’ were developed in the UK and unaware of the career opportunities in the UK.

We need to transform young people’s passion to play video games into a desire to make them, whilst equipping them with the right skills for the industry. In the brave new online world, a second ‘golden age’ for the UK games industry beckons. It’s an opportunity which shouldn’t be missed.”

So Train2Game, what are your thoughts on the main points of the Livingstone Hope Skills review? Do you believe it really can lead to a new ‘Golden Age’ Are you surprised about the lack of knowledge about the games industry among the public and education sector?

As usual, you can leave your thoughts here on the Train2Game blog, or on the Train2Game forum. Alternatively, you can also tell us what you think via Twitter.

Train2Game, in association with DR Studios and the University of Bedfordshire, will be holding a Game Jam at the end of March. For more information, see this Train2Game blog post or the Train2Game Game Jam Facebook page. Alternatively, keep an eye on the Train2Game Game Jam Twitter account.