16 April 14
Watch Games Committee Chair Harvey Elliott deliver the opening speech at the British Academy Games Awards in 2014, and read his thoughts on BAFTA Games.
As I emerge from the maelstrom of activity surrounding the BAFTA Games Awards I felt the need to reflect on our story over the past year in games, and map out how we can move the industry forward together. And by together I mean all of us – everyone in the games industry, every one who supports it, and everyone who wants and aspires to be part of it. So read on, for a few ideas on how you can take part.
12 March saw the culmination of a staggering amount of BAFTA activity in games, with the celebration of the year in games in 2013 hosted at Tobacco Dock by the inimitable Dara O’Briain – and what a year. 2013 saw the biggest entertainment launch ever: Grand Theft Auto V, which went on to win three BAFTAs (including Best British Game). Crafted by BAFTA’s latest Fellows, Rockstar Games, who have earned themselves a place amongst an extremely select group of people – Gabe Newell, Nolan Bushnell, Shigeru Miyamoto, Peter Molyneux and Will Wright.
2013 also saw a superb swansong for the last generation of games consoles, represented not least by The Last of Us which won 5 BAFTAs including the highly coveted Best Game award. Innovation reigned supreme with Tearaway, from British team Media Molecule, which pushed every ounce of personality and feature through the PS Vita to create the handheld game of the year.
However, the story isn’t just about established studios – independent developers were strongly represented with titles including BADLAND, The Stanley Parable and DEVICE 6 receiving multiple nominations, and both Gone Home and Papers, Please winning a BAFTA each – proof that creativity is thriving at all levels of the games industry today.
Our audience in the room neared 1,000 including our first ever public access tickets adding a new level of excitement and energy to the event, which translated through the tens of thousands of live viewers on Twitch.TV, BAFTA.org, and subsequently on YouTube.
And yet our story is more than just awards - we introduced our first ever Inside Games event preceding the awards by a few hours and showcasing huge titles that herald the next generation of gaming - including the Xbox One juggernaut, Titanfall, as well as a taste of Oculus Rift-powered virtual reality courtesy of Elite: Dangerous, from one of Britain’s greatest and most prolific studios, Frontier. The Inside Games Arcade proved the huge popularity of games on mobile, Steam, and PC from upcoming designers who will no doubt be influencing the world of gaming over the next decade – no pressure then!
We also announced the next iteration of the BAFTA Young Game Designers competition (YGD), which reaches out to 11-16 year olds and encourages them to get involved by creating their games and putting themselves forward for one of two special BAFTA awards, to be given in a ceremony in July this year.
The true magic of BAFTA, is the membership that passionately support the creative industries of Film, TV and Games – all of whom have forged their careers doing something that they love, creating great entertainment. If you have made a significant contribution to the industry, including a minimum of 5 years in a role directly creating or influencing game production, then why not apply for membership? In return you get to be part of the group of people that will award the next BAFTA masks in our ceremony in 2015. Our review program enables developers to share their games with the membership throughout the year, giving BAFTA members direct access to over 150 games during 2013. In addition you get preferential access to the BAFTA learning and events program that reached thousands of people during 2013; including Masterclasses, talks, and the hugely popular BAFTA Games Question Time. Other benefits include full access to the members bar at 195 Piccadilly, film and TV events including film screenings & Q&A’s, free cinema access Monday-to-Thursday, and discounted access to partner activity across the UK. Learn more here.
I absolutely loved the new format of our awards activity in 2014, but there is so much more we can do. It starts today, as we call on everyone in the industry to include BAFTA submission as part of their release plans. The fourth quarter of 2013 was intense as the members put their thoughts in place around hundreds of great games entered for the 2014 awards. Early access to the games has really helped surface the standout titles, and we need more of the same from now. Every game released in the UK between January 1 and December 31 2014 is eligible for free entry if put forward promptly, there is really nothing to lose. And by participating in the review copy program, developers and publishers can ensure that the BAFTA members have an early opportunity to get to know their title. Find out more about how to enter here.
After the membership creates a shortlist of titles, they are put forward to the BAFTA Juries, each formed and chaired by the BAFTA Games Committee. The Games Committee is comprised of individuals voted in by the BAFTA membership and others co-opted from around the industry to create a group that is representative of the industry as it stands today. If you want to be considered for a place on a jury, then drop us a line here.
BAFTA is glitzy, with amazing global credibility, and it’s a charity. All of the BAFTA activity is supported by its members, partners, and sponsors – without whom none of this would be possible. And because BAFTA has a rich and global audience, it’s rewarding for those who can get involved. For details of the sponsorship opportunities, learn more about all of the ways to partner with BAFTA, or take part in an event, talk, or one of our programmes reaching young people – then please get in touch.
The games membership of BAFTA is already many hundreds strong, yet it could be thousands strong given the size of the industry in the UK. It’s true we have to filter to the very best during every membership intake, but please do consider stepping forward.
Our Games award program is the envy of the world. Our mask is especially coveted as it’s your peers in the industry that decide what is worthy of winning. And yet, the magic of BAFTA is not just in the awards that it gives, but in the way it celebrates everything that the industry does and achieves.
BAFTA’s independence ensures that the industry is given a fair voice, which in turn pushes us to maintain integrity in everything we do. As we look into the years to come, it’s our duty to ensure that the games industry is fairly represented and shown in the best possible light among its heavyweight peers of TV and Film.
The games industry is the largest entertainment industry in the world, and yet it isn’t surrounded by celebrity and personalities – our stars are the games that represent us year in, year out. Those games are created by teams and individuals, who spend the majority of their time in front of screens digitally crafting an art form like no other, inviting people to invest their time in determining their own progress through the game, and the story that they unfold in front of them.
When we think about how we share that experience with the world, it strikes me that a televised event won’t be the way to show our achievements. Instead we need something that represents the very core of our existence, through the medium that we all use every day. Our audiences are much like us in the industry – we are gamers, we enjoy games, we’re passionate about games, and we celebrate those games as an experience that helps define who we are.
And with so many things in the games industry, it’s the journey that we are on that provides the most excitement in the industry. How new technology carves a furrow that we must seed as the industry with content and experiences that will inspire those behind us. I don’t know where the journey will take us, but I do know that I want to be on that journey.
So I urge you – take part in BAFTA, be a part of that journey, and help shape the future of games.
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