Sculpting the Next Generation of Game Developers – Luke Savage on the PlayStation First Program

POSTED BY Toby Berger December 15, 2015 in Articles
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A few months ago PlayStation announced its partnership with the Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) and Nnooo through the company’s PlayStation First program, in a way of fast tracking talented AIE students and showcasing their games to the PlayStation Nation. I recently had a chat with Luke Savage, the Senior Academic Development Manager of PlayStation First, about the partnership and what it means for students at AIE and beyond.

Q: For those unaware, what is PlayStation First and the partnership with AIE and Nnooo?
PlayStation First is all about inspiring and encouraging the new wave of developers to create games across all PlayStation platforms. We engage with Universities around the world to allow students to cut their teeth on console development and gain hands-on experience creating games on PlayStation.

Our partnership with AIE and Nnooo is the only program of its kind in Australia. We’ll identify and fast track talented student teams at AIE so they gain the skills to create games on PS4 and have the opportunity to publish on the PlayStation Network.

Q: Can you explain Nnooo’s role in the partnership?
Nnooo will be working directly with the most talented student teams at AIE’s Sydney, Melbourne, Canberra, and Adelaide campuses to help them bring their games to PlayStation consoles through the PlayStation First program. It’s an incredible opportunity for students at AIE to learn first-hand from a leading PlayStation developer.

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Q: What’s the basis of this initiative? Who set the wheels in motion?
We all recognise that today’s students are the next wave of PlayStation game developers. We want to give them the best opportunities to become part of our developer community and to link them directly with future employers – such as PlayStation development studios.

Nnooo is a studio with a terrific commitment to finding, nurturing, and guiding new talent. They’re the ideal partner to have on board and to arm students with the skills and knowledge they’ll need to publish their first game on PlayStation.

Q: How does this initiative factor into the student’s studies?
A key part of any game course is ensuring that students learn industry-relevant skills. When a student is looking for their first job with a developer, they should be able to demonstrate experience of working on current industry hardware. They need to show they can solve the types of challenges that a modern game studio will face day-to-day. That’s exactly what we’re doing through PlayStation First.

Q: How’s a game selected in this program?
It’s all about the right ingredients coming together to support teams who have publish-quality IP. We’ll work closely with AIE and Nnooo to assess students’ early prototypes and determine which teams stand out. Then we want to make sure that those teams or individuals have the best opportunity to get their titles on the PlayStation Network.

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Q: How do you aim to give these games exposure?
We’ve already seen an example of this at PAX 2015 in Melbourne. The first united showcase from PlayStation First, AIE, and Nnooo saw eight student creators from AIE providing demos of their games currently in development. That’s an incredible shop window – their games were at the hands of the thousands of visitors to PAX this year!

When it comes to student teams publishing on PSN, they’ll benefit from the same level of support from Sony as any other developer. It’s a win-win for students.

Q: How important is it for the Australian video games industry to have a partnership like this for students to work towards?
It’s vital. Australia is a creative hub for game development, and a pipeline of new talent with the right skills is key to sustaining that. Having PlayStation First be part of the ecosystem to enhance the skills of more graduates especially for console development can bring real value to the industry.

Q: What’s your message to current students at AIE that want to be involved?
Turn that idea you have into a game! It could be just a game with one level, or a 3 minute demo – it doesn’t have to be a sprawling, epic game. And then get us as excited about your game as you are. Who knows – you could be part of a PlayStation First showcase at PAX in 2016!

Q: And what’s the message for those considering AIE as tertiary education next year?
Talk to the team at AIE to find out more about the games course and if it’s the right fit for you. And good luck! You’re about to take your first step to being a game developer.

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