The NextGen Futures Bootcamp in games-tech programming was built in response to the growth in this sector in the West of England, and related skills shortages reported by these employers. The ability to programme in platforms including Unity and Unreal Engine, are increasingly in-demand across games, VR, AR, animation, VFX, architecture, manufacturing, and automation companies worldwide.

To tackle this problem, TechSPARK worked in conjunction with NextGen Skills Academy and Opposable Games to deliver dedicated learning to a cohort keen to learn games-tech programming, funded by the West of England Combined Authority’s Digital Skills Investment Programme.

As the course finished earlier this year, we caught up with a handful of the students to see how they got on.

Up next sharing his thoughts on the training is Ric de Mowbray.

Could you introduce yourself and give us a brief background on your career or education so far?

I am a sound engineer, who has been mixing and designing TV, Film and spatial audio for over a decade in L.A., N.Y. and Bristol. I came back to my native West Country to specialise in Natural History programming. I’ve run my own studio for 5 years, giving me creative freedom as well as the ability to take a primary role raising my 2 boys. Without a doubt the most challenging and rewarding education of my life to date!  

How did you find out about the NextGen Futures gaming bootcamp and what made you want to sign up?

I saw it advertised on TechSPARK’s Twitter. While I appreciate the autonomy offered to me as a freelancer, the peaks and troughs are hard to deal with and I’m keen to find an additional or replacement income source.  

What were your aspirations to get out of the course when you started? Did these change throughout the programme at all?

I’ve been wanting to spend time getting into Unity and Wwise. To start creating my own VR projects and to see if there’s a role and demand for my audio skills in the industry. Those goals haven’t change much, but have become clearer. I’ve had amazingly specific advice about what the industry is needing and why. I am now looking to specifically work towards being an Audio programmer.   

Do you feel as if you accomplished these outcomes?

I got the most fantastic overview of Unity from the course, with plenty of ‘hands on’ time on Unity and associated coding. I feel specialising as an audio programmer will require a lot more work. But it wouldn’t be possible without understanding an overview of the whole system.

Was there anything on the bootcamp that you were surprised to learn?

I was surprised at how much coding was involved and it has been a lot to get up to speed on. But it is actualy some of what I find most interesting now. Like coding the behaviour of animated animals in your world! 

What was your favourite part about the bootcamp?

The structure was really important for me. With a young family and work pressures alongside, it is easy to get distracted. The teachers were great in the sessions so I really wanted to keep up to speed to draw on their expertise. I could’ve been better prepared. But the structure ensured that I did as much as I could, whenever I could.

Why do you think it’s important to encourage people to learn new skills in VR, AR, animation etc?

I think it’s really important to teach people tech skills in this format because it’s opening up the industry to people from different backgrounds. It also gives an opportunity to demonstrate key skills like the ability to pick up new things quickly.   

What would you say to someone who wants to learn more about games-tech programming?

I would thoroughly recommend the NextGen bootcamp to anyone starting out. I think you’d be so much better informed as to which direction you’d want to go in afterwards. I’d also suggest they start learning coding asap!

What do you want to do next?

I have approached my final project in a very idealistic way and would love to see if I can expand the idea, as it’s very close to my heart. I’d also like to explore other creative VR applications. In terms of paid work I’d like to do the Wwise courses and then assist an audio programmer before doing it individually.