Game Schools in Tampere and Around the World

Story by Johanna Lievemaa
A whole new course complex on games is starting at TAMK. I was thinking of game studies here and elsewhere.

Tokyo Game Show

Last September I got to visit a very special event: Tokyo Game Show in Chiba, Japan. One of the things that attracted me to the event was the huge amount of local game school exhibitions. I wanted to see how different the scene in Japan is from our cozy little study circles in Finland.
The school booths were almost as fabulous as those of the big game
industry names

It was very different. Naturally they have more schools than we do, so there was a whole section of one of the four halls reserved for the schools to present what they had done. They had many different projects to show, many new ideas and even wacky shows. People could try their demos and admire all the wonderful art made by students. All of them had eager staff giving out brochures their schools.
Tokyo Communication Arts and their playable demos

The event, even though they say it has become smaller and some big names skipped the whole thing, was huge to my eyes. There were almost 200 exhibitors with over 700 titles. There were so many people it was hard to stop or turn around. To be exact, 222 668 visitors in 4 days. Navigating through all the large halls was a good workout. Dragon Quest seemed to be popular.
Enthusiasts lining up to play the new games

One of the halls at Makuhari Messe

This year it was nice to learn of the new game study module right here in Tampere, arranged between our Media programme and the Business Information Systems. There are three parts in the module, each doable separately or as a whole.

  • N-AM81 -2000 Game development (10 cr)
  • N-AM80-2000 Game design and production (10 cr)
  • N-AM82 -2000 Game project (10 cr)

Game design and production (kickoff today) looks at games from the perspective of storytelling, of the meaning of characters and teaches game mechanics and rules you need to know when designing a game. Game development concentrates on techniques and platforms and teaches the student about different skills needed in producing a game, such as programming, graphic art, animation and sound design. Game project is independent work on game design and production.

I have already had the pleasure of doing 15 cr worth of game studies before this new module. Last summer we did the 5D3 project where 3 total newbies and a sound guy produced 5 whole games in just 5 weeks. I hope there will be 5D4 this year! There are already a few existing themes around which it could evolve, emerging from the projects we have had so far and connections we have made with new partners during this year. There were also some gamifying projects and some really interesting Wooga internships available at Demola this spring.

Our school advertised itself as a game school at Summer Assembly 2011 next to KAJAK, and 5D3 was strongly present. We only had one iMac with all the games of two previous 5D-projects and no posters, though we did have a flyer for Score. Ramine Darabiha (who used to study at TAMK, btw) from Rovio came by and played our games and encouraged us to apply for a job in their team! For next time me and Emma thought we could steal the idea from some other sponsors who had graphic artists doing concept art while a mirroring screen was arranged so that passers by could stop and marvel at the progress.

How to sell games 101

Every booth at the Tokyo Game Show had girls in skimpy costumes promoting their products. One even had pole dancing and a ninja! Usually the girls were dressed as something from the games, and they sure attracted a lot of photographers. Of course some of the visitors were also cosplaying (surprisingly many of them young men in maid costumes). Even the schools had their own cute promo girls. I wonder if our game projects will copy their Japanese counterparts in this marketing strategy? Could Score use a team of cheerleaders? In any case, it would be great to see such concentration on the appearance of our projects at future gaming events.
Higashi Nihon Computer & Design College and the promo
girls from Arts College Yokohama

Global and Finnish Game Jam starts at Demola today!

Johanna is student of our international Degree Programme in Media
Read more stories from/about IMPs, the Media students