Oulu Game Lab was established in 2012, as part of a Business Oulu Project in an attempt to get closer to what was then an emerging industry, the gaming industry. Today it is integrated into the University of Applied Sciences in Oulu and consists of two 30 ECTS credit courses.
I visited Oulu Game Lab and met with Roberto Hanas, Lab Master and Coach for Oulu Game Lab, to shed some light on what this programme is and how it works.
“The Oulu Game Lab is an educational programme meant for students and others, that mimics the game industry so they can get a taste of what it is like and get accustomed with it before entering the actual industry” Roberto says.
Roberto on what his role is a Lab Master at Oulu Game Lab says, “my job is to coordinate and help facilitate the programme for the students, organise training workshops and coach 1-on-1 or in teams. To make sure the structure is respected and that students feel welcomed and a part of the programme itself. Also to make sure that the right mentors and experts are helping the students when they have problems.”
OGL consists of two parts, the Demo Path and Game Path. Everyone who is accepted starts at the Demo Path and when completed can move onto the Game Path. Roberto explains, “We have quite a unique programme, the Demo Path focuses on the concepts and the students getting the hang of creating a game concept to a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) or demo. Then there’s the Game Path which is targeted at teaching the students how the actual production of games go and by the end they should be as close as possible to providing a ready made product.”
The Demo Path follows a funnel model, where teams present their concepts at certains stages called Gates. Some teams continue and the rest are eliminated. Roberto clarifies that, “If a team drops out the members of that team join the others and gradually teams grow from 2 to 4 to 6 and in Game Path they might even be in teams of 12. This mimics as much as possible, the working environment that you’re most likely going to have in the gaming industry”.
OGL has 2 application periods where they receive well over 100 applications yearly. No prior experience in the gaming industry is needed when applying but Roberto does say that, “You should have experience in your own field. If you are an artist you should have a portfolio of your artwork, if you are a composer then you should have made some kind of music or sound effects prior to applying”.
If you are interested in the gaming industry then OGL may be just for you, it has lots of benefits such as invaluable experience and networks. However Roberto does warn that, “This isn’t just a cool and hip place, it is actual work and really demanding, that’s not to discourage people but rather a fair warning for those that apply.”
Oulu Game Lab: Overview, URL: http://www.oulugamelab.net/overview/ Referenced 11.10.2018
Roberto Hanas (2018, October 3), Personal Interview.
Text and pictures: Liam Colebourn