North East Connected

Game on for college students

Screen Shot 2016-03-14 at 16.30.40STUDENTS at a North East college have been upping their career game by taking part in two worldwide events designed to improve their developing skills.

More than 40 Sunderland College students have taken part in Global Game Jam, an event that saw them create seven games over the course a weekend.  It was a worldwide event with thousands of people taking part and saw the students develop their own games and learn more about the software programmes that sit behind the games in the process.

The students also took part in GameBlast 16 last weekend, a gaming marathon for a charity called Special Effect.  As part of the event, students battled it out with their peers in a series of game tournaments over the course of the weekend, and were also able to test their developing skills again by creating their own apps and games.

Ellen Thinnesen, principal at Sunderland College, said that the events represented a great opportunity for students to test their digital and creative skills in the real world, as part of two global events that attract interaction from developers around the world.

She said: “We pride ourselves on delivering courses that are closely aligned to industry such as the digital, creative and high tech economy, which in turn means that our young people leave us with the skills and experience they need to enter the world of work.

“Events like Global Game Jam and GameBlast 16 provide our young people with a unique opportunity to engage with industry professionals and test their skills against people with years of experience under their belt.  We are delighted that – by being hooked into the game development industry to the level we are – we are able to support our students to access opportunities that are both fun and educational for them, and that ultimately sets them on a pathway to success.”

She added: “Game development is a sector that has huge growth potential and we really are establishing Sunderland College as a leading light among further education providers both locally and regionally.”

The event was live streamed online at and students who took part shared updates with their friends through social media.  The GameBlast 16 weekend was sponsored by NextGen partners Microsoft, who offered prizes, and was attended by a guest speaker from Coatsink, a Sunderland Software Centre-based game developer.

Jonathon Wilson, a game designer at Coatsink, said: “As gamers, we take part in a number of games industry events, and Game Jam and GameBlast 16 are two that have great profiles in the sector.

“It’s fantastic that Sunderland College is getting its young people engaged in events like this early and we were delighted to support the event and to talk to them about the career pathways available to them in what is a hugely rewarding industry.”

For more information about Sunderland College, visit or call 0191 511 6000.

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