Britain's unlikely techno-capital (Blitz Games Studios)

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Britain's unlikely techno-capital (Blitz Games Studios)

Post by metalqueen »

Britain's unlikely techno-capital
What turns a town into a hotbed of hi-tech talent and creativity? Rhodri Marsden pays a visit to Leamington Spa to find out

Blitz's offices are a hive of activity – indeed, they're well known to the local energy company for popping fuses – and while the setting could never be described as glamourous (hundreds of mostly male, bespectacled staff beavering away in front of computer screens) the product they're making is. Andrew Oliver, sporting a natty pair of 3D specs, is demonstrating the newly-released Invincible Fighter, the world's first stereoscopic 3D game; he stresses the importance of education, within the company and in colleges and universities, to help keep Leamington surfing this cutting edge. "Technology is moving so fast," he says, "that you have to disseminate information incredibly quickly to keep everyone up to speed."

Its award-winning Blitz Academy takes care of internal training, and that informs the work done with the government's Skillset programme to try to ensure that the 300-plus gaming-related courses in universities across the UK are relevant and useful. It's not always easy. "It's not always the universities' fault," says Andrew. "You get course content signed off but by the following year it's completely out of date."

Nearby, at Leamington's Warwickshire College, Andrew Brazier heads up a two-year National Diploma in Games Development for 16- to 18-year-old school leavers, grounding them in basics like 3D modelling and digital graphics with the hope of creating the next generation of local developers. "Many local kids still don't realise that they can have a career in the gaming industry," he says, "and that it's right on their doorstep."
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