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Tipperary Institute Thurles – Microsoft Games Development Laboratory Opens

Tipperary Institute in Thurles has now officially, this week, opened its Games Development Laboratory. The laboratory, sponsored by Microsoft is equipped with the very latest technology to give students access to a state of the art learning facility. The laboratory is designed to assist students to build their own software and games portfolios and to develop the skills which are now much sought by the fast growing game development and entertainment technology industry, both in Ireland and abroad.

The opening, which took place during Engineers Ireland Week of Wonder, saw over seventy students from Tipperary, Limerick and Dublin take part in workshops at this new laboratory. The students used the latest Microsoft games development technology XNA to create their version of the classic Atari computer game Asteroids. XNA Game Studio expands on all the offerings of earlier iterations to include additional functionality to appeal to game developers of every level and enable them to create games to distribute through Xbox LIVE Community Games on the Xbox 360 as part of the New Xbox Experience.

James Greenslade, Director of ICT at Tipperary said,

“Innovation has never been as important as it is in today’s economic climate. Tipperary Institute views investment in technology as crucial to our students’ learning experience and for the future development of a knowledge driven economy. We aim to develop students who are innovative and dynamic – something which is vital for our economy. To achieve this we must have access to technology and to networks, something Microsoft is providing for us through its generous sponsorship.”

Dr. Kevin Marshall, Academic Programme Manager for Microsoft Ireland, who  opened the laboratory officially, stated.

“We need to embrace innovation in business, in technology and in society at large if we are to position Ireland in a true knowledge economy. There is a demand for skills in games technology both from established global players and also from smaller companies based here and abroad. The growth of online technology means that the skills students will learn on the course will be relevant and in demand,”

gamesThe new laboratory has been completed in time to host the 2009 annual Games Fleadh which brings the games industry and secondary and higher education students from across the island of Ireland, together. Games Fleadh, Ireland’s largest computer and console games programming festival now incorporates the following major events;

Robocode Ireland
XNA Ireland Challenge
XNA Ireland Challenge for Schools
SchoolBots Challenge
Gaming Tournament
GamesPro Talks

Games studios expert will deliver a series of talks on all aspects of games design and development on the 11th March. On the 12th March experts will judge portfolio entries from college and school participants.

Games Feadh has been running for the past five years. In 2008  the XNA Ireland Challenge was added to the competition series. The XNA event honored the 30th anniversary of SPACE INVADERS(c) Taito Corp. 1978, 2008. Entries were received from University of Ulster, University of Limerick, Galway Mayo Institute of Technology, Carlow Institute of Technology, Dublin Institute of Technology, Tipperary Institute and winning team Gort Community School. In total, sixteen third level institutes and fourteen second level schools took part in Games Fleadh 2008.

Games Fleadh 2008 was attended by representatives from Microsoft, SEGA, Rare, Blitz Games Studios, BlackRock Studios and Activision – DemoWare, all of whom are planning a return trip to Games Fleadh 2009.

XNA Ireland Challenge ’08 entrants have been already offered work placement and graduate employment within the participating studios. It is becoming an important portfolio opportunity for those students. Games Fleadh has also created an opportunity for industry development organisations to network with games specialists to identify and cultivate opportunities.

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