THIS MORNING marks my annual pilgrimage to the Mecca of Irish Games Development on the Thurles campus of the Limerick Institute of Technology where I rejoin lecturers and students from across Ireland to compete in several categories related to online games design and development.
This year, I am accompanied by Thomas Lonergan, the grand prize winner of Robocode 2005. Tom and I can reflect on the gradual evolution of games development in Ireland throughout the 10 years that have passed since his win in the Thurles Thunderdome.
A specialized third level degree for Games Development now runs on the campus of LIT-Thurles. A complementary Games Art and Design degree, running on the LIT-Clonmel campus is also available as an Honours Degree through the CAO.
Past participants on the Thurles campus have graduated to set up or work in games development companies. A new incubation centre on the Thurles campus offers support structures for that career path. Many other Robocode and Games Fleadh participants now work as software developers in Ireland, Australia, England and the States.
So when I look out at the audience of the 2015 Irish Games Fleadh, I know I'm viewing the next generation of coders and developers for a large swath of the online life we all have a part in creating and enjoying.
[Bernie Goldbach is the senior pilot creative multimedia lecturer in the Limerick School of Art & Design who offers colour commentary during National Robocode Competitions.]