BAFTA celebrated the game designers of the future once again at its annual Young Game Designers (YGD) Awards on 7 July. The winners included seven aspiring game creators, aged between 10 and 18, and an inspirational teacher.
The BAFTA Young Game Designers competition has changed considerably since it was first introduced in 2010, but its core principles remain the same: to give children and young people the opportunity to try their hands at game design and, in the process, learn more about the games industry and how to find a place within it. The competition is part of a year-round programme of activity that gives young people and educators unique insights into the games industry, and provides access to the creative minds behind the games.
The culmination of the competition is the YGD Awards, held in early July at BAFTA’s HQ at 195 Piccadilly. Prior to this year’s ceremony, all 60 of the young finalists had the opportunity to showcase their game concepts and prototypes to their peers and the special guests. These included the event’s hosts, BBC Radio 1’s Julia Hardy and Eurogamer’s Aoife Wilson; voice actor Abubakar Salim (Assassins Creed: Origins); games journalist Alysia Judge; presenter Ellen Rose (Outside Xtra and Outside Xbox); YouTube star Amazing Arabella; and Tameem Antoniades, chief creative director at Ninja Theory, makers of the BAFTA-winning Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. Antoniades also gave an inspiring speech to close the ceremony, urging the finalists to keep creating what makes them happy.
The variety of themes that have been tackled – and with such ingenuity and creativity – shows just how versatile games can be in representing who we are and what we believe in - HRH Duke of Cambridge
BAFTA’s president, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, sent a special message to the young creatives: “It is inspiring to see so many ideas and technical skills on display among the finalists’ work this year. The variety of themes that have been tackled – and with such ingenuity and creativity – shows just how versatile games can be in representing who we are and what we believe in. The achievements of these young people give me great confidence for the future.”
I hope that the winners and finalists will go on to create diverse games that are culturally important [and] break new boundaries - Nick Button Brown
Prince William’s thoughts were echoed by BAFTA’s outgoing chair of the Games Committee, Nick Button-Brown: “I hope [they] have a long career playing and enjoying games. And, who knows? Maybe the winners and finalists will go on to create diverse games that are culturally important, break new boundaries and enjoy the games industry as much as I have.”
And so on to those winners...
YGD presents awards in two main categories: the Game Concept Award, for a written idea for a new game, and the Game Making Award, for a game made using computer software. The 2018 winners, chosen by a jury of industry experts, were:
- Dalvia and Tiya Dhillon – Game Concept Award (10-14-year-old category) for Trapped, a retro 2D story focusing on mental health
- Sophia Shepherd, Kat Shields and Rin Jones – Game Concept Award (15-18-year-old category) for Tea & Tartlets, a top down story-based sim
- Harry Thurston – Game Making Award (10-14-year-old category) for Maggie, a head-scratching puzzle platformer starring a cute red cube
- Prithvi Kohli – Game Making Award (15-18-year-old category) for Super Boson, an energetic puzzler about particle physics
BAFTA/Jamie SimondsDalvia & Tiya Dhillon
Dr Jo Twist, who chaired the Game Concept Award jury, said: “I am always amazed at how our Young Game Designers treat their chosen concepts with such mature care and understanding, particularly for those that deal with difficult themes.”
BAFTA/Jamie SimondsSophia Shepherd, Kat Shields and Rin Jones
Tea & Tartlets
Carolin Krenzer, chair of the Game Making Award jury, added: “There was a huge amount of technical skill on display by our finalists; many entrants created their own software, art and music to bring their games to life.”
BAFTA/Jamie SimondsHarry Thurston
As well as receiving a coveted YGD trophy, the young winners will enjoy a bespoke mentoring package to support their future game making projects. The winners also received a host of prizes, including workshops, studio tours, games, software subscriptions, merchandise and more. Supporting partners of YGD are: Creative Assembly (SEGA), Criterion (EA), Jagex, King, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Ubisoft, Unity and WB Games.
BAFTA/Jamie SimondsPrithvi Kohli
Also presented at the ceremony was the YGD Mentor Award, for an individual nominated by the public for their involvement in the education of young game designers. This went to Adam Syrop, programme leader at Impact Gamers. He said: “We work with young people in deprived areas of Bradford teaching them to be creative with computers, offering a safe space to come, make friends, play and learn together.”
BAFTA/Jamie SimondsAdam Syrop
BAFTA/Danny CozensAoife Wilson, Adam Syrop & Julia Hardy
Naturally, the hope is that this year’s winners will go on to develop their games and eventually enjoy a successful career within the games industry. YGD’s legacy has been gratifying to date: for instance, Dan Pearce, a winner in 2010, was named a BAFTA Breakthrough Brit in 2013, and his game, Castles in the Sky, earned him a BAFTA nomination for Debut Game in 2014. Recently, YGD winners also showcased their creations at EGX Rezzed earlier this year, including: Daniel Smith (a 2016 winner), whose game was picked up by Ripstone Games and has just been released commercially; Emily Mitchell (2017 winner), who is working with a games publisher to release her game commercially; Spruce Campbell (2017 winner), who self-published his game on the App Store; and Anna Carter (2017 winner), who showcased a prototype of her winning game concept, which she has since developed with students at Abertay University.
Smith, whose intriguing narrative-puzzler The Spectrum Retreat was released on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch and PC this month, said: “The best thing about YGD has been the opportunity, the doors that it has opened. Getting my game published came as a result of the conversations that I had while I was at the Awards ceremony.”
Congratulations to all this year’s finalists and winners. Next stop the British Academy Games Awards...
For more on the YGD 2018 winning games, click here.