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Finalists announced for the 11th annual BAFTA Young Game Designers competition

15 June 2021
  • Compelling themes relating to the environment, gender fluidity, disability, bereavement, and the Covid-19 pandemic dominate this year’s entries
  • Winners to be revealed at a digital ceremony on Thursday 8 July at 17:00 BST
  • BAFTA also unveils Elle Osili-Wood as the host of the 2021 YGD ceremony
  • Ceremony will be streamed digitally on BAFTA’s YouTube

Today, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced the 51 talented finalists, from across the UK, for the 11th nationwide BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition. BAFTA YGD is a year-round initiative of public events, workshops and a competition for 10-18 year-olds, culminating in the annual YGD award ceremony to celebrate finalists and winners. 

This year’s winners will be revealed at a special virtual BAFTA YGD ceremony, taking place on Thursday 8 July 2021 at 17.00 BST. The ceremony will be hosted by presenter and journalist, Elle Osili-Wood, one of the most recognisable faces in games who also hosted the BAFTA Games Awards earlier on this year. 

Across five months, young people have been working individually and collectively to unlock their imaginations by developing innovative game concepts and designs. After thoughtful and extensive deliberation from virtual juries chaired by Dr. Jo Twist OBE, Jodie Azhar, Claire Boissiere, and Des Gayle, finalist entries were selected for their creativity and vision. They encompass a diverse range of young people from a number of locations - including Berkshire, Cambridgeshire, Derbyshire, Devon, Essex, Hertfordshire, Lincolnshire, London, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Sussex, Wiltshire, and Wales. 

Shortlisted entries demonstrate a remarkable breadth of talent and provide an insight into the future of the British games industry, shining a light on the art and craft of games, and the vital role they have played in keeping people connected, inspired and entertained across the last year. They explore a wide variety of meaningful and contemporary topics, such as: climate change, social justice and cause-related issues, mental health, bereavement, escapism, relationships, identity, education, disability, gender diversity, and inclusion with strong themes of community and togetherness evident in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Entries encompass problem-solving challenges, quests, puzzles, adventures, survival tasks, with the introduction of Virtual Reality for the first time, as well as Game Making submissions made in the BAFTA-winning Dreams.

Further details on all finalists and their games are available here.

Dr. Jo Twist OBE (Chair of the BAFTA Games Committee and CEO of UKIE), said: “BAFTA YGD is an excellent initiative that encourages aspiring talent to express themselves and showcase their creativity through unique game ideas. In a year when young people’s education was severely disrupted, it is fantastic to see so many wonderful ideas entered. Games have played such an important role in connecting, supporting, and entertaining people over the last year and it has been fascinating to see how much the wider industry has positively influenced the entrants, with a number of them citing their contemporary titles. We were so impressed by the originality demonstrated across the board and extend our congratulations to this year’s finalists.”

Host Elle Osili-Wood, said: “BAFTA YGD is one of the most exciting events on the games calendar, showcasing the next generation of game design talent. Each year, I’m blown away by the creativity, innovation, and technical skill of YGD entrants, so I couldn’t be more honoured to host this year’s ceremony. Not only is it an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of young people in an incredibly difficult year, it’s also your chance to spot the next Hideo Kojima, or Amy Hennig - and to say you saw them first!”

This impressive cohort of finalists will compete for the YGD Game Concept Award, split into two categories (10-14 years) and (15-18 years), celebrating the best original game idea, as well as the YGD Game Making Award, split into (10-14 years) and (15-18 years), rewarding the coding skills used to create a prototype game using freely available software. Winning entries will be judged on gameplay design and their suitability for the chosen games platform, with the aim of developing new talent and supporting accessible career pathways into game design. Previous winners include Dan Pearce, Emily Mitchell, Spruce Campbell, amongst others.

The BAFTA YGD Ceremony will be streamed on BAFTA’s YouTube, with highlights and clips from the show available to watch on Twitter (@BAFTAGames), using the hashtag #YGD2021. 

For over a decade, BAFTA YGD has given young people and educators, unique access and insights into some of the most creative minds in the industry, through competitions, mentorship, exclusive masterclasses, as well as online workshops, teaching tools, and networking opportunities. The Mentor Award will also return this year, recognising inspirational individuals involved in championing the education of young game creators in the UK.

Official Partners of BAFTA Young Game Designers include: Creative Assembly, Criterion Games, King, Playstation, Tencent Games, Ubisoft and Warner Bros. Games.  Further information about BAFTA YGD can be found here.


BAFTA YGD images are available at BAFTA Thirdlight HERE 

Finalists’ headshots + quotes HERE

Games’ summaries + images HERE

For further information, to be added to the press release distribution list or interview requests, please contact WDW Entertainment.

Izzy Baker / WDW Entertainment         Katie Dawson / WDW Entertainment 

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The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) is a world-leading independent arts charity that brings the very best work in film, games and television to public attention and supports the growth of creative talent in the UK and internationally. Through its Awards ceremonies and year-round programme of learning events and initiatives – which includes workshops, masterclasses, scholarships, lectures and mentoring schemes in the UK, USA and Asia – BAFTA identifies and celebrates excellence, discovers, inspires and nurtures new talent, and enables learning and creative collaboration. For advice and inspiration from the best creative minds in working in film, games and television, visit For more, visit


BAFTA curates a year-round global programme of events and initiatives that support the games industry. This includes developer talks, showcases, debates, scholarships and networking, as well as the flagship Games Lecture by an inspirational practitioner. BAFTA Young Game Designers gives young people and educators insights into the industry and access to the brightest creative minds in games; BAFTA Crew Games is a network that connects practitioners working in the UK games industry and provides participants with a skills development programmes; BAFTA Scholarships, which enable talented individuals to study a postgraduate course in games; and BAFTA Breakthrough Brits, which supports emerging stars of the games industry. 

Previous winners include revered game developer, Dan Pearce, winner of the first ever BAFTA YGD competition in 2010. Dan has since gone on to receive a BAFTA Games Award Debut Game nomination in 2014 for his game, Castles in the Sky. Emily Mitchell was a 2017 winner for her debut game Fractured Minds, and has subsequently released the game commercially, winning last year’s prestigious MCV / DEVELOP Award. Similarly, Spruce Campbell (2017 winner) has self-published his game on the App Store. Previous winners have also showcased their creations at EGX Rezzed, London’s largest games event, including 2016 winner Daniel Smith whose game was picked up by Ripstone Games.

About Elle Osili-Wood

Elle Osili-Wood is one of the most recognisable faces in games and a member of BAFTA’s Games Committee. A video games presenter and journalist, Elle has been named by as one of the most influential women in gaming. Having started her career as a political reporter for the BBC, Elle quickly gravitated towards her lifelong passion for games. Whether interviewing game designers, investigating the science of games for BBC Sounds or presenting from E3 for PlayStation, Elle is a passionate advocate for the industry and the talent it represents.