SQA supporting Scottish Games Week

Friday 28 October 2022

This week saw Scottish Games Week take place; the first ever Scotland-wide series of events focused solely on video games.

Running from Monday 24 October to Friday 28 October, the event sought to position the games sector as a key part of Scotland’s digital future.

Bringing together the gaming and education sectors

With eleven colleges and seven universities producing graduates with skills in game design, development, and production, Scotland’s capacity to produce talent for the games industry is undeniable. To reflect this, Scottish Games Week hosted a unique Education Symposium, with the goal of making Scotland the best place in the world to learn about designing, developing, publishing, and running games.

The symposium, sponsored by SQA, brought together educators and learners from across the games-related education field in Scotland. The aim was to improve and strengthen the pathways into games creation, as well as understand the key challenges facing games-related courses in colleges and universities across Scotland. Those attending identified gaps and opportunities for collaboration, ensuring everyone from across the sector is consistent in their approach to the future of game-related education.

Celebrating Scottish educators

Scottish Games Week concluded with the first ever Scottish Games Awards on Thursday 27 October. The awards acknowledged and celebrated the achievements of those involved in the games sector across the country.

SQA was proud to sponsor the Best Educator category, an award to recognise the most valuable individual involved in the provision of games-related skills in Scotland. The winner of this year's award was Dr Lynn Love, a lecturer In Computer Arts and a practising artist. 

Dr Love works has delivered a series of workshops within games and design festivals, at schools and for the general public, aiming to expand understanding of and engagement with playful media, interaction design and narrative. These workshops are participative, supporting attendees in the design and delivery and of digital games, and animations. 

Gaming qualifications at SQA

Alan Ogg, Head of Technology, Engineering & Construction at SQA explains, “We offer a large variety of computing qualifications, which are designed and developed with subject experts and industry to ensure they meet the skills needs of the sector. Many of them do address the needs of the developing and constantly evolving games industry in Scotland.”

One such qualification is the National Progression Award (NPA) in Computer Games Development, which teaches learners how to write, design and develop computer games.

These NPAs are available at SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6 and are delivered in partnership between schools, colleges and employers. They're aimed at assessing a defined set of skills and knowledge in a specialist vocational area.

The NPA in Computer Games Development is split into three units: media assets, design, and development. The media assets part of the award focuses on finding and capturing digital media that can be used within a game, such as sounds, images and videos, and customising these assets to fit into a game. The design part of the award focuses on creating a plan for the development of a computer game. The development part of the award focuses on writing code to produce the game.

Learners will gain knowledge and skills essential to the gaming industry, such as copyright and the legality of media assets, how to design a good game, and how to test a game.

Dr Amanda Ford, who has been teaching the qualification for nine years at West College Scotland, explains, “It’s really good for schools, as it tends to be used as the equivalent of a National 5 or Higher. It allows students to take the games development route in their timetable and study something they’re interested in.

“Moving on from school, students can go on to study games further at college or university at a higher level. For example, a HNC or HND in Computer Games Development.”

Although the primary focus of this award is progression to further studies in games development, or a related field, the knowledge and skills gained by undertaking this qualification can lead to eventual employment in a games or programming position.

Exciting new developments

Dr Ford is also the lead developer of a new SQA qualification; a National Progression Award in Esports, available at SCQF levels 4, 5 and 6.

Dr Ford said, “The new esports qualification will take students through learning about the esports industry, being part of an esports team, and they also take part in an event that they will organise. It’s really exciting and there’s been lots of interest in it so far.”

To find out more about the qualifications mentioned, visit https://www.sqa.org.uk/computing