July 21st, 2013, 22:44 Posted By: wraggster
SCEE’s head of academic development says Sony are helping to improve teaching with their PlayStationFirst Academic Programme, which is strategically vital for the future of their business. PlayStationFirst is now open for expressions of interest from universities who want to access PlayStation 4 dev kits in 2014, once developer demand has been met.Dr Maria Stukoff says: “Our aim is to increase the quality and teaching of game courses and therefore we demand universities reach a certain level before they can register on the full programme. Engaging with academia means that SCEE is actively taking part in shaping the future of game development education and offering pathways for students to get skilled-up whilst learning about the industry, the players and the products.”PlayStationFirst is a Sony Computer Entertainment (SCE) and SCE Worldwide Studios (SCE WWS) partnership programme which introduces aspiring developers, computer scientists and researchers to Sony’s dev tools while they are at university. Institutions on the scheme get access to cut-price dev kits and other benefits as Sony invest in a generation of developers who they hope will become PlayStation-savvy.Stukoff adds: “It is of huge strategic importance to the future of our business. Technology for gaming is evolving at an ever-increasing rate while traditional markets are changing. The next-gen of indie developers are currently in education and PlayStationFirst provides this talent group with unique access to our professional PlayStation tools and support and to choose PlayStation as a platform of choice to learn their craft to create fun news gaming experiences.”The PS4 academic licencing programme will begin in 2014. “We’d like to start sooner,” explains Stukoff, “but the main challenge is that all most PS4 dev kits will be sucked up by the keen demand of PlayStation registered game developers. However we are offering immediate access to PS Vita SDK, our latest console which has a lot of similarity with the approaches taken on PS4, so as an example the Visual Studio based approach taken by the Razor optimisation tool is common across both platforms – and so students getting experience today on PS Vita will be able to smoothly migrate to PS4.”Sony’s interest in indie – which is increasingly cited as the career route of choice by young developers – has been reinvigorated by high-profile success stories such as Journey. And its commitment to small-budget development was reiterated by Mark Cerny at the Develop conference. Stukoff explains that PlayStationFirst should be seen as a route to next gen publishing by aspiring developers. “Since the dawn of PlayStation, SCE has provided access to universities to explore our full professional SDK and tools. Providing access to the PS4 SDK is a natural step for us, especially when building upon the complementary skills PS Vita development has to offer. This is about finding the talent and enabling that talent to get skilled-up and be future-fit for PlayStation publishing opportunities.”Citing examples such as Sheffield Hallam University’s puzzle game Bounceback, which was published by the university’s own studio Steel Minions for PSP in 2012, Stukoff adds: “We are really keen for students to publish their games on PSN and will continue to promote channels for student games to feature on PlayStation whilst studying. Playground Squad, who are based in Sweden, have published various PlayStation mini titles such as ‘Swap Zap!’ and are about to release their first PS Vita title. So, watch this space…”PlayStationFirst-registered universities will gain access to support akin to help offered to commercial game developers, a feature unique to Sony’s programme says Stukoff. “Alongside providing online training we offer mentors from all disciples of our studio. Furthermore we are actively support educational events, student game jams and completions hosted by our University members.”Since its launch three years ago, PlayStation first has tripled its number of partners to 100. Now the scheme is expanding to not only cover Australia, Middle East, Europe and the UK by offering the same support and access to our hardware to Universities in America and Japan.Universities interested in taking part in PlayStationFirst should email firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss registration. Once SCEE send out the official application form, they will review applicants. Institutions have to fulfil a set of academic and PlayStation oriented criteria to demonstrate the use of PlayStation technologies as a critical part of the teaching curriculum. Institutions who do not meet Sony’s criteria can work towards elgibility for the programme by gaining access to other platforms such as theMove.me SDK and PlayStationMobile.“PlayStation 4 is setting the pace for global indie development, we are very excited that through PlayStationFirst we are able to offer registered Universities access to PlayStation 4 for the next generation of soon-to-be Indie developers,” adds Mick Hocking, vice president studio group at London and Evolution Studios. “Now is the time for new talent to get skilled up on PS Vita and explore the future of PlayStation game development.”
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