North East Scotland College is preparing to offer budding computer games designers and developers a pathway to the burgeoning Esports industry as innovative plans gather pace.

The college has a strong track record in the computer games field, with established courses for learners at all levels, and is expanding that offering for 2021/22 by incorporating a focus on Esports.

Esports is one of the fastest growing professional sports in the world, with forecasts of a global worth of more than £1bn by 2023.

Scotland is set to play a leading role in that worldwide expansion, with a new 4,000 capacity Esports arena planned for Dundee, and NESCol is forging plans to support the industry’s development as part of the wider digital ambitions for the region.

The college demonstrated its ability in the competitive sphere with victory in College Development Network Esports Scottish Cup – an event streamed to a global audience and that raised the profile of NESCol as serious player on the national stage.

The winning team comprised current computing students and the success has served as a springboard for the increased emphasis on Esports as part of the college curriculum.

Applications are currently open for two courses that have been designed to appeal to the growing interest in the industry.

An SCQF Level 4 Computer Games Design course will incorporate an introduction to Esports, explore video game characters, narrative and design as well as the creation of an Esports brand, organisation of an Esports tournament and live-stream broadcasting. This is equivalent to a National 4 qualification and is open to all with an interest in the computer games industry.

An SCQF Level Computer Games Development course will bring students together to contribute to an Esports organisation, create content and organise an Esports tournament. This is equiavelent to a Higher qualification and entry requirements are four National 5 grades.

Further information on the courses is available at and .

Duncan MacLeod, curriculum manager for interactive computing at NESCol, said: “Our course offering is constantly evolving and bringing Esports to the fore has been a key part of our planning for the 2021/22 session.

“Although the new course content was in place before the NESCol team’s success in the national tournament, that has helped to shine the spotlight on the college’s incredibly vibrant computing scene.

“The games industry and Esports are already an important part of the UK economy and will continue to create jobs and opportunities. Ensuring our students are equipped to play their part in that exciting future is essential and we review our course content on a rolling basis to keep pace with a fast moving sector.”

NESCol’s commitment to the technology industries has demonstrated by the college’s participation in the Future Skills Partnership: . Spearheaded by Opportunity North East (ONE), the partnership is designed to help the region keep pace with the country’s other major cities in digital maturity and adoption.

North East Scotland College, Robert Gordon University and the University of Aberdeen have partnered with Code Clan, The Data Lab and Skills Development Scotland to launch a web portal providing individuals looking to further their digital education with a single source for information and advice on all the courses available.

At NESCol the range of courses extends far beyond games development and Esports, with a variety of computing technologies options available for full-times students aiming to begin their college journey after the summer break.

These include Computing with Cyber Security (SCQF Level 4 and SCQF Level 5), Computing: Technical Support (Level 5), Computing: Software Development (Level 5/6) and Advanced Computing (Level 6).

Ben Thorn, curriculum manager for computing technologies at NESCol’s City Campus, said: “The core skills in computing technologies are in demand across a wide range of industries and that will only continue to grow. Our aim is to ensure the region has a workforce that is equipped to drive innovation and provide individuals with the skills and knowledge that will lead to rewarding careers. College provides a stepping stone to some incredible opportunities.”

Andrew Donn, curriculum manager for computing at the Fraserburgh Campus, added: “Cyber security is one of the key areas for the new session. Headlines every day demonstrate the importance of the sector – cyber security is essential for each of us in so many ways and every company and organisation has a duty to enhance its defences. We are responding to the needs of industry to ensure the region is equipped to deal with the challenges and opportunities of what is a vital branch of computing technologies.”

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