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Higher Certificate in Game Design and Development 
101608  Higher Certificate in Game Design and Development 
Emendy (Pty) Ltd 
CHE - Council on Higher Education  HEQSF - Higher Education Qualifications Sub-framework 
Higher Certificate  Field 02 - Culture and Arts  Design Studies 
Undefined  120  Not Applicable  NQF Level 05  Regular-Provider-ELOAC 
Reregistered  SAQA 091/21  2021-07-01  2023-06-30 
2024-06-30   2027-06-30  

In all of the tables in this document, both the pre-2009 NQF Level and the NQF Level is shown. In the text (purpose statements, qualification rules, etc), any references to NQF Levels are to the pre-2009 levels unless specifically stated otherwise.  

This qualification does not replace any other qualification and is not replaced by any other qualification. 

The main purpose of the qualification is to equip students with a combination of theoretical knowledge- and practical skills, so that they can successfully contribute to the growth of the gaming industry. These individuals would be able to work independently in the interactive entertainment industry, and possibly create additional employment opportunities for others as well.

The one-year full-time Higher Certificate has a strong industry-orientated focus, and is designed to equip the learner with the fundamental practical, theoretical and creative skills required to become a proficient and creative game developer. Upon successful completion of the qualification, the learner would have acquired all the necessary skills to create complete interactive game experiences from concept to completion, and would have created game products suitable for commercial release.

The Interactive Entertainment industry, or Gaming industry, is one of the fastest growing new creative media industries globally. Society witnessed great technological advances in the last decade which stimulated the growth of the industry immensely and, more importantly, the adoption of this entertainment medium into the mainstream consciousness. The mass uptake of mobile devices in the form of tablets and functionally versatile and technologically powerful smart-phones have allowed computer-based games to reach a broader market than ever believed possible. A modern game product has access to literally millions of potential customers through these digital distribution platforms.

The demand for electronic entertainment exponentially grew with its consumer base, and many companies have tried to capitalise on this during the past few years. This resulted in a multitude of new employment disciplines being established in the Gaming industry, which created thousands of job opportunities worldwide. Apart from larger established game-developing companies, casual and independent game-developers have a substantial impact on the interactive entertainment industry. The revenue coming from the sales of these games exceeds millions of dollars.

On par with global development in this new industry, the gaming industry is also a vast developing industry locally, with huge numbers of users actively spending money on the game product. A large category of these game products are easily distributed online and via mobile applications directly by the independent game developer. In this way, there are many opportunities for skilled gaming entrepreneurs to be self-employed in this blossoming industry locally.

As mentioned, the demand for electronic games grew on par with its growing market, and many companies have tried to capitalise on this. Still, there exists a lack of competent game designers in the field, which resulted in the local game development industry being quite stifled. One significant contributing factor to this is that the formal and systematical study of creative Game Design and development is much underdeveloped in South Africa. There exists a noticeable lack of advanced skills and academic proficiency in this field - regarding both its theoretical knowledge-base and in higher-level practical-and innovative applications.

The rationale of the qualification is to help bridge these shortcomings that exist in the gaming industry, by delivering graduates who have attained a comprehensive and systematic knowledge-based paired with appropriate practical and creative abilities, who can contribute positively to the establishment and development of the sector locally.

The qualification is aimed towards learners who demonstrate an interest in the gaming industry, have creative and artistic abilities, and show a keen interest in new media- and technology applications. The qualification furthermore opens up a wider accessibility to Higher Education for an alternative type of creative individual, who would traditionally not be inclined towards a much theoretically-based Higher Educational qualification. 

Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL):
This qualification may be achieved in part through the recognition of relevant prior learning and through prior experience as a practitioner in the area of game development and applied multimedia arts. Learners can receive credits towards the qualification, through the Recognition of Prior Learning. This facilitates learner mobility and efficient progression through the qualification. Recognition of Prior Learning can also be used to admit learners who do not meet the full entry requirements of the qualification.

Entry Requirements:
Access to the qualification is granted to all candidates that fulfil the criteria specified below:
  • A National Senior Certificate (NSC) granting access to Diploma studies and with appropriate subject combinations and levels of achievement.
  • National Certificate Vocational (NCV) granting access to Diploma studies and with appropriate subject combinations and levels of achievement. 


    This qualification comprises compulsory modules at Level 5 totalling 175 Credits.

    Compulsory Modules, Level 5, 175 Credits:
  • Game Development, 40 Credits.
  • Visual Programming and Scripting, 25 Credits.
  • Contemporary Game Design, 35 Credits.
  • Applied Digital Arts, 25 Credits.
  • Modelling and Animation, 30 Credits.
  • Audio for Game Design, 20 Credits. 

    1. Demonstrate an understanding of the local and global game design industry.
    2. Demonstrate the ability to create a solid game concept that adheres to game design theories and principles.
    3. Show an understanding of applied digital art.
    4. Demonstrate proficiency in 3D modeling and animation.
    5. Demonstrate a practical ability to create comprehensive game art assets.
    6. Create and implement suitable audio and sound effects for games.
    7. Implement the core game framework within a game development platform.
    8. Produce and publish a marketable game product within a given timeframe. 

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 1:
  • Stay informed about developments in the current game industry: locally and globally.
  • Identify the different roles and functions within the gaming industry.
  • Demonstrate a more inclusive understanding of-and experience in the game industry.
  • Demonstrate an inclusive understanding of the different phases in the game product development chain.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of different gaming genres and their application to specific audiences.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 2:
  • Demonstrate comprehensive theoretical knowledge of game design theory.
  • Illustrate an understanding of the psychology underlying effective game design.
  • Stay knowledgeable about the relevance of specific game design choices and how this relates to product appeal for target audiences.
  • Apply logical thought in the game design process.
  • Create a systematic game design document describing a clear game concept, game mechanics, game world, aesthetic, characters and target demographic.
  • Articulate and execute a suitable game project proposal.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 3:
  • Understand the fundamentals of digital art: drawing and painting.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of colour theory and composition principles.
  • Complete effective image editing.
  • Comment on the suitability of digital art objects to a specific game application.
  • Accomplish creative digital art from concept to completion.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 4:
  • Understand the theoretical principals of animation.
  • Understand and apply the fundamentals of 3D modelling techniques.
  • Reproduce real life objects as 3D objects using 3D modelling techniques.
  • Demonstrate competency in applying animations to 3D models.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 5:
  • Create suitable 2D and 3D art asset reference images.
  • Model 3D mesh objects from reference images.
  • Create textures maps and apply them to art assets.
  • Employ art assets suitably in a game environment.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 6:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of digital audio for game applications.
  • Produce game sound on an industry-standard music DAW.
  • Produce dialogue for game applications.
  • Create effective sound effects for game applications.
  • Create multiple sound layers for game implementation.
  • Demonstrate competency in implementing unique game sound in the game engine.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 7:
  • Work in an industry-standard game development platform.
  • Demonstrate competence in implementing game logic within the game platform.
  • Create and group game logic into a range of game managers.
  • Demonstrate competency regarding skilful modelling, texturing and implementation of art assets within the game development platform.
  • Demonstrate the ability to create an effective interactive game experience.

    Associated Assessment Criteria for Exit Level Outcome 8:
  • Use adequate artistic and technical skills to create a complete game product.
  • Successfully deploy the completed game to IOS and Android.
  • Demonstrate adequate project planning and time management capabilities regarding game development and production.
  • Demonstrate the ability to work independently on a specific task in the game industry.
  • Publish a marketable and competitive game product in the gaming industry.
  • Understand the basics of marketing a game product in the local and global game industry.

    Integrated Assessment:
    The institution follows its prescribed formulated assessment strategies to facilitate student learning and to assess achievement against learning outcomes or competency aims. The assessment methodology of the Higher Certificate in Game design and Development qualification supports integrated assessment and student-centered approaches to learning. The integrated assessment methodology is based on combining, interpreting and communicating knowledge from a few disciplines to enable the evaluation of given problems from a synoptic viewpoint.

    The outcomes of all modules comprising the qualification are assessed on a continuous basis through weekly online formative exercises designed to reinforce and verify acquisition of theoretical knowledge. Continuous practical assessment is carried out in class where each student is required to demonstrate individual competence against a set of criteria. Individual assignments form an integral part of the assessment strategy where students need to demonstrate independent competence in the completion of tasks relevant to the desired outcomes of the module. Summative assessment is performed on completion of the module in the form of a theoretical examination and a comprehensive final project. All assessment grades are cumulated using a weighted means of grading. 

    Regarding International comparability, there is an increasingly international precedent for a formal qualification that focuses on game design and development. With the dramatic growth of the computer game industry during the past years, Universities in various parts of the world initially introduced computer game design and development majors to existing Degrees, but are now providing standalone qualifications specialising in this field, with a view to being responsive to massive industry and learner demand for such qualifications.

    When the structure and content of this qualification was compared with several similar courses presented in foreign educational institutes it becomes clear that the content of this qualification is on par with international standards. As an example, in Canada, the Vancouver Film School hosts a one-year Game Development course which is hyper-focused, and its fast-paced curriculum aims to build a strong foundation in the many principles of game design. The topics covered overlap extensively with our proposed topics. These include Game Theory, Game Mechanics, 3D Modeling, Programming (Unity, C# etc.), Game Audio and more.

    Another example can be found at the University of Lancashire who offers a one-year Game Development qualification with a focus on three distinct strands of activity: design, art and modeling. At the end of the course the students would have had the opportunity to create an individual body of work representative of their personal developmental journey, which reflects a particular response to the discipline very similar to this qualification.

    As a final example, the University of Newcastle in Australia hosts a one-year qualification specifically aimed to teach the techniques of designing computer games for the digital entertainment industry. Topics include Game Theory, generating computer imagery, creating interactivity, computer games production cycle and Game engines. 

    The Higher Certificate in Game Design and Development is currently a unique standalone one-year course with an exit level after the successful completion of all six modules. At this stage, there are not the option to progress or articulate internally to a similar qualification or a related second year at the institution. In future, additional qualifications might become available at the institute, which could allow for progression to a related programme, or articulation to modules on a subsequent level. 





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    1. Emendy (Pty) Ltd 

    All qualifications and part qualifications registered on the National Qualifications Framework are public property. Thus the only payment that can be made for them is for service and reproduction. It is illegal to sell this material for profit. If the material is reproduced or quoted, the South African Qualifications Authority (SAQA) should be acknowledged as the source.