"The demand for education in the Russian gaming industry is growing noticeably," — Ekaterina Cherkeszade from Scream School about the main thing for 2022

We talked about the results of the year in gaming education with Ekaterina Cherkeszade, Rector of the University of Creative Industries Universal University and Dean of the Faculty of Game Development Scream School. She spoke about the demand for education in the niche and who comes here first.

What is the current demand for courses in game development from students? How big is it?

Some large universities (both state and non-state) already have either a part of the direction related to game development, or a separate direction on games (for example, the Scream School Master’s Program Modern Game Design together with MIPT). This directly indicates the growing demand for education in the industry. So far, we are talking about two or three hundred graduates a year in total, but there is a high probability that we should expect a breakthrough in the number of personnel trained for the market in the next three to five years. And the increase in admissions to Scream School this year proves it once again.

It is worth noting that, in addition to online courses, there are several other opportunities to get an education in game development: higher education programs (bachelor’s and master’s degrees), programs of additional professional education and basic programs with career guidance.

Where does this demand come from? What is the main motive? Money? The desire to move? Love of games? Something else?

The main motive is to get a profession that has no borders, work in one of the most creative and rapidly developing industries and build a career from anywhere in the world. Of course, the love of games, as well as high income, play a role, plus the romanticization of the profession as a whole, because in the future you will create cool games. It is clear that, as in any industry, the amount of routine significantly exceeds the amount of pure creativity, but in any case, the result of your work is a game.

As for the desire to move, a significant number of international companies have left our country this year, and there are no fewer people willing to play and pay for games in Russia and the CIS. That is, the Russian game rendezvous needs new teams and employees, and those who are going to study now have a great chance to occupy this niche.

The gaming industry market in Russia in 2021 was $2.4 billion. According to various estimates, in 2022 it decreased by 50-70%, but it should be borne in mind that the main decrease is the inability to receive money from Apple, Google and Steam. And $1 billion still remained. I repeat, the Russian market needs more creative teams and employees.

Who is the main target audience of game development courses today?

If we are talking about additional vocational education (DPO), these are people with a certain background and skills who dream of getting into the industry and already have an idea about it. For example, artists with a portfolio who want to master the direction of concept art.

Graduates of schools who choose game development as their first and main profession, and graduates of bachelor’s degree who decide to change their career profile, go to higher education programs – bachelor’s and master’s degree. Basic programs with career guidance are designed for those who do not have a portfolio and skills at all, and they have not decided on the direction.

Which directions are the most popular among students?

The rating of admission to the directions this year looks like this: game graphics are in the first place permanently; concept art is in the second, and game design takes the third place.

The desire to get into the industry is understandable, but how many people understand the difficulties associated with the field? How high is the failure rate usually when it comes to understanding that hundreds of hours are needed, including independent work, to become a specialist?

Conscious people come to us for DPO programs. They understand for sure that game dev is not about playing games, but about routine, many hours of studying the necessary software and hard work.

At the bachelor’s degree, things are somewhat different, since 90% of students are school graduates. They really want to go into game development, but they don’t always have an idea of what it is, and how much work needs to be invested in training.

The dropout rate after the start of training is minimal and is not associated with unrealistic expectations of applicants. We have a number of entrance tests, including an interview, one of the aspects of which is to find out how motivated people are, whether their expectations and ideas about getting a profession coincide with reality.

Where, as a rule, do students want to get a job after graduation? Are there any top most desirable companies? Or do most people still just want to get into the industry?

Everyone comes with their own desires, and they sometimes vary very much. A lot depends on the games, genres and styles that the applicant prefers. But most of them still want to just get into the industry at the beginning (get a job in any company), and then eventually move to the studios they are interested in. It is difficult to make the top companies, because the industry is dynamic and multifaceted.

By the way, how many game developers do you produce per year?

There are about 50 people a year in all areas of DPO, but you need to understand that we are not talking about IT developers, but game designers, game graphics specialists and concept artists.

By the end of 2022, the set turned out to be more or less than in 2021?

This year, the enrollment for additional vocational education programs turned out to be more, which could not but please. Even despite the unstable situation in the country and the world, the demand for education in game development is growing noticeably. By the way, at the end of this year, the University of Creative Industries Universal University, of which we are a part, received a license for higher education, which gave us the opportunity to launch a set for our own bachelor’s degree in the direction of Game Development. We are already seeing the interest of applicants in this program and predict a high enrollment next year.

Have you reduced the pool of partners against the background of the events taking place in the country?

We tried our best to avoid major losses. Now we are reviewing partnership programs and actively seeking support for new companies. For example, we have already reformatted the training into a Blended format (full-time and online) in order to continue working with teachers who have left the country.

How great is the interest of the gaming companies themselves, who have remained in Russia, in partnering with courses?

Since the beginning of the year, we have increased the number of our partnerships and continue to do so. Russian developers remaining on the market are interested in improving the education of their potential employees.

Have you had conversations with representatives of gaming companies about training specialists specifically for them?

Such conversations arise constantly, both with our partners and with third-party studios.

From the very beginning, all programs were formulated for the tasks of companies. In order for this to continue to happen, companies need to be systematically involved in the educational process. This practice is already being successfully implemented at the British Higher School of Design.

The opening of educational projects on the territory of industrial schools brings an equivalent profit for both sides.

Against the background of attention to the gaming industry from the government, have orders for the training of such specialists begun to arrive. Or, perhaps, conversations on this topic have begun?

So far, we cannot give specific comments on this issue. Of course, without the support of the expertise of industrial schools, it will be difficult to implement the project conceived by the government. We are primarily focused on the industry, our graduates work in companies around the world, so we are always open to all offers.

Universal University already has a successful experience of cooperation with Kaliningrad. Playport accelerator is an initiative for the development of the gaming industry in Kaliningrad and the Kaliningrad region.

Is there any understanding of how much the Russian industry lacks gaming specialists today?

There will always be a shortage of specialists and a lot. According to various sources, the shortage now ranges from several thousand to several tens of thousands of specialists. The only question is their quality. In this regard, we always try to check the relevance of our programs with the studios we work with. We value our partners and are grateful to each of them, because without them there would be no industry, and without industry there would be no those who want to get into it.

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