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PlayStation development lab opens at Abertay Uni

Students Jake Mackenzie and Natasha Singh with Dr Maria Stukoff of SCEE and Professor Louis Natanson. Picture: Alan Richardson

Students Jake Mackenzie and Natasha Singh with Dr Maria Stukoff of SCEE and Professor Louis Natanson. Picture: Alan Richardson

  • by FRANK URQUHART
 

EUROPE’S largest teaching laboratory for Sony PlayStation consoles has opened at Abertay University in Dundee.

The lab will allow gaming students at the university access to special equipment which will develop their computing skills on 30 PlayStation development kits, identical to those used by professional game studios to create games for the popular consoles.

The aim is to help the students become leading members of the next generation of PlayStation programmers.

Dr Maria Stukoff, the head of academic development at Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, said: “The next generation of PlayStation-savvy developers are now in education and Abertay University is at the forefront of bringing young and talented developers to our platform.

“It is these students who will influence the future of video games and we are delighted to work with Abertay University to make this a PlayStation training hub.”

Professor Louis Natanson, head of the School of Arts, Media and Computer Games at the university, welcomed the initiative. He said: “Abertay is very proud to have the largest teaching laboratory of PlayStation consoles in Europe, and it’s something our students benefit hugely from.

“Having access to professional Sony development kits is incredibly exciting for students learning how to design and build games, and we’ve seen a real jump in the enthusiasm of our students since we created this lab.”

He added: “Students are routinely staying after class to work on their own projects, with many immediately aspiring to release their own games for PlayStation.”

As part of the PlayStation lab, two student teams, totalling 22 undergraduates, have been working with James Marsden and Kirsty Rigden, the co-founders of FuturLab, an award- winning game studio based in Brighton.

One team is building on FuturLab’s successful Velocity series of games, with another pitching a completely new idea to the company.

Thomas Garnerone, one of Abertay’s student game designers, said: “The PlayStation Vita is an interesting platform as it is a very powerful handheld game console. By combining regular buttons and new features such as the touch screen, the console offers a new gameplay experience to players.”

He went on: “As a student in game design, I really like the fact that players can discover new ways to play video games.”

A university spokeswoman said: “Abertay’s PlayStation lab has now permanently installed 30 new PlayStation Vita development kits, to which Abertay’s games students have open access alongside their existing PlayStation3 and PlayStation4 development kits.”

She added: “The students are encouraged to use the Vita’s full range of control options – from the twin analogue sticks and front touchscreen, to the innovative rear touchpad – to push their design and programming skills.”

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