SAE students gain industry experience at EGX and Let’s Talk Games events

SAE Games Programming students at our Leamington Spa campus had the opportunity to meet leading industry professionals, forge new connections and expand their networks at a number of industry and SAE events over the course of 2023. 

Fold launch event

SAE students helped out during the Fold launch event in October.

These students worked in public-facing roles welcoming guests, taking photos of the event, and by providing live demonstrations of SAE courses.

Those attending had the opportunity to watch a performance by Motionhouse of their award-winning Gravity stage production in the heart of Leamington’s Creative Quarter, of which SAE Leamington Spa is a big part.

EGX 2023

In October, SAE Leamington students also attended the epic EGX 2023 Expo, the UK’s largest gaming event and one of the largest and most busy expos in the world.

Here, students were given the opportunity to watch a rare live appearance and talk by the legendary Sam Lake, winner of multiple game awards this year (including Best Game Director, Best Narrative, and Best Art Direction) for Alan Wake 2.

Students also had access to the live stand with talks about industry careers, guidance on building strong portfolios, as well as a fun-packed afternoon playing the latest and future games from Triple-A publishers right through to smaller indie developers.

Birmingham ComiCon November 2023

Another event students attended in November was the Birmingham MCM ComiCon, which this year had a strong focus on the talents of video game voice acting.

In attendance at the show were industry giants like Troy Baker (Last of Us), David Hayter (Metal Gear Solid), Roger Clark (Red Dead Redemption 2) and Jennifer Hale (Mass Effect) as well as Game Award winning voice actor for Best Performance, Neil Newbon for Baldur’s Gate 3.

Tabletop Society

Leamington Spa SAE Tabletop Society is also now well underway, with many games under our belt such as a huge cohort-wide game of Cosmic Encounter, and lots of board games like Pandemic, Lords of Waterdeep, and Oath, as well as a thriving Pokemon card scene!

We’re hoping this will continue to grow bigger and better in 2024.

Let’s Talk Games 2023

Bringing together our Games Programming and Content Creation cohorts were the epic Let’s Talk Games 2023 event in Leamington Spa.

This was a great opportunity to hear from experts from across the broad spectrum of the games industry, including talks from Ubisoft, Playground Games, Sega Hardlight, Third Kind Games, Maverick Games, and many more.

These talks inspired our students to research and investigate areas they hadn’t considered such as Technical Art, Data Analysis in Games, developing VR experiences, and more. Industry professionals were eager to talk with SAE students, offering advice on their next steps and the best ways to collaborate.

Commenting, Liah English, SAE Games Art student, said: “EGX, ComiCon and Tabletop Society have been really great for engaging in the industry and future audience, as well as a great opportunity to get to know each other and better our student experience.”

Callum Haydon, SAE Games Art student, said: “EGX was a good balance of industry engagement and engagement with products as fans of the content. Comic Con was less game programming focused but with heavy emphasis on animation and voice acting (fits with our course since it’s also animation), they are starting to incorporate games in it more.”

“Let’s Talk Games was good for introducing people to certain trends and industry roles, good networking opportunities during the breaks and people putting their socials on presentations made it very helpful to build in-company connections.”

Many of these opportunities have been facilitated by Games Programming lecturer Nathan Flannery.

Here, Nathan explains how these opportunities came about and why they are important for students. 

How do you go about facilitating opportunities like these events for students? 

Nathan Flannery (NF): The student experience at SAE is so much more than just the application of the skills and knowledge they learn in lectures and workshops, it’s also about the opportunities they are given to engage with the wider games industry, and with their peers. 

We are always on the lookout for local events like Let’s Talk Games, and Interactive Futures, as well as opportunities to engage with developers and publishers at initiatives like The Game Dev Group.

There is a wealth of opportunity here for student involvement and engagement, but we also work closely with our colleagues in London and Liverpool and have attended events further afield, like EGX, allowing our students to meet with their peers from across the country and whom they know from centralised lectures; this helps to build a stronger bond between all students of SAE regardless of location.

Which events were the highlights? And how can students get the most from them?

NF: The highlights from this trimester have definitely been EGX 2023 and Let’s Talk Games 2023.

As the largest Games expo in the UK, and one of the largest in the world, it’s such a fantastic event for students of Programming, Art and Animation, and Design. This year was a very special event as there was an opportunity to hear some talks from some of the most prestigious names, such as Sam Lake, the designer and creative lead of Alan Wake, Control and other heavyweight games at Remedy.

There was also a large section of the show representing the organisation, and this was invaluable for our students to visit and gain industry insight regarding portfolios, recruitment, and the hottest topics surrounding future careers in games. Let’s Talk Games was a great opportunity to network with all the studios and publishers literally on the doorstep of SAE Leamington, and for our students to network and make some valuable connections for their future.

What events are coming up for students to attend in 2024? 

NF: We’ve got plenty more exciting events lined up for students in the new year, including an early visit in January to PocketGamerConnects in London, which is an industry-facing event bringing together all the developers and publishers of mobile game development as well as niche platforms like virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality.

This event is not only going to be another invaluable networking opportunity for SAE students, but also an expo highlighting another area of Games Development.

Another epo we’ll be visiting will be WASD, which combines an extensive careers fair with a showcase of independent game developers and publishers, again exploring another area of the industry aside from Triple-A. In terms of enrichment, we will be looking to take our students to ComiCon London, where again we hope to spend some time developing cross-campus relationships and forming bonds with our colleagues across the UK.

Study games programming at SAE 

SAE’s Games Programming degree enables our students to get to grips with the latest industry-standard software packages such as Unreal Engine 5, Unity3D, C++ and C#.

By taking on our course, you’ll have the chance to work across exciting film, audio, and animation projects to kickstart your industry career.

Get in touch with our team to find out more.

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