SA game devs must aim for “substance not gloss”
Head of animation at CityVarsity, Rosalind Burr, gives some insight and advice on animation and a career in video games
The industry of animation and game design is blossoming in South Africa, and there are various paths open to those seeking a career in game development. As well as programming skills, animation itself is integral to a well-realised video game, and so for the artistic types, this is a viable career path into the game development industry.
MyGaming caught up with one of the SA’s most well-known institutes, CityVarsity. The school of media and creative arts is becoming increasingly prevalent in the animation department, and Head of animation at CityVarsity, Rosalind Burr, offered some insight into the curriculum and opportunities.
“The CityVarsity animation curriculum as a whole has a well-rounded approach to the area of animation including visual games creation,” said Rosalind Burr. “After an initial foundation in all the basics of animation (both practical and theoretical) a student can specialise in traditional skills (stop frame puppetry or drawn animation), 3D digital animation or game creation. We believe in a strong foundation on which a student can build creative specialist skills.”
With regards to specific animation skills for video games, Burr explained that CityVarsity students will be exposed to elements of game design during the course.
“Within our third year students have the option to specialise in Games creation,” said Burr. “This one year course extends and applies their foundational knowledge of 3D modelling and animation; pre-production design; and digital composting & editing. CityVarsity students gain some exposure to the back end scripting of games but mainly focus on the visually creative front end side. Students create the game play concepts and all of the games assets including the animations, models and GUI interface.”
MyGaming asked Burr if people would struggle or be at a disadvantage if they are unfamiliar or are not proficient with animation programs.
“No matter the previous experience we take all students from scratch and cover the basics of animation,” explained Burr. “Our basics in first year include drawing, visual literacy, animation principles, digital studies and more. In second year we focus more on 3D animation, digital programs and story creation, and in third year self-defined thesis projects.”
Burr elaborated, saying that evening classes and holiday workshops are on offer, along with 6-month stop frame courses.
Burr also offered up some advice for people looking to study animation, and particularly game design.
“Aim for substance not gloss,” advised Burr. Good animation, good design, good anything comes from investing time and interest. Skills to invest in to start with would be drawing and clay modelling, also start developing your fantasy life to find game ideas that are yours not just copies of existing titles. And if you want to go the more technical route then maths and computer studies are very handy.
“I would say the most important aspect in preparing you for a study in games would be research. Play games, yes, but also look at all facets of art, film and animation. Games are a hugely developing area of media and it’s an area that is looking for smart innovative talent to move it forward,” concluded Burr.
For further information on CityVarsity and the Animation department, head over to the CityVarsity website.
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