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BAFTA announces winners of Young Game Designers Awards at special ceremony

Game designers of the future celebrated at event attended by stars of games, television and radio

HRH The Duke of Cambridge, President of BAFTA, praises young finalists and inspiring educators

London, 8 July 2017: The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has today announced the winners of the 2017 BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition in association with Nominet Trust, at a prestigious awards ceremony at BAFTA’s headquarters, 195 Piccadilly in London.

The winners include four aspiring game creators aged between 10 and 18, three of whom are female, as well as an inspirational teacher.

BAFTA YGD, which began in 2010, 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 winners, chosen by a jury of industry experts, are:

  • Elsie Mae Williams - Game Concept Award (10-14 year-old category)
  • Anna Carter - Game Concept Award (15-18 year-old category)
  • Spruce Campbell - Game Making Award (10-14 year-old category)
  • Emily Mitchell  - Game Making Award (15-18 year-old category)

The four award-winning young people will receive a host of prizes, including a mentor from the games industry to help them develop their skills further, tours of leading games studios, game development software, and a prototype of their game created by a team of developers. For the full list of prizes, go to: http://ygd.bafta.org/about-ygd/ygd-news/ygd-2017-winners-prizes

This year, the percentage of young female winners (75%) far exceeds the proportion of women currently working in the games industry in the UK, which is 19% (Ukie, 2016). In 2012, BAFTA’s Career Pathways Survey found that just 9% of the young women who responded had considered a career in games, compared to 38% of young men. The research findings informed a number of BAFTA initiatives, including YGD, which encourages all young people to consider careers in the games industry.

The YGD Mentor Award, presented to an individual nominated by the public for their involvement in the education of young game designers, was awarded to Dave Chilver, Teacher of IT and Games Design at Lowestoft Sixth Form College in Suffolk.

The previously announced YGD Hero Award was accepted by Aurore Dimopoulos (Producer) and Josh Naylor (Senior Technical Evangelist) at Unity Technologies, creators of Unity, the largest global development platform for creating 2D, 3D, VR and AR games. The game development company was selected by the BAFTA Games Committee for its continued support for young game designers.

The YGD Awards ceremony was hosted by presenters Dev Griffin (BBC Radio 1) and Georgie Barrat (The Gadget Show). Presenting the awards were: game designer Mike Bithell (Thomas Was Alone); CITV presenter London Hughes (Scrambled!); The Xtra Factor presenter Matt Richardson; games producer Adrienne Law (Monument Valley 2);  Chair of BAFTA’s Games Committee Nick Button Brown; and David Gardner, BAFTA’s Vice President for Games.

In a message of support to all the young finalists, HRH The Duke of Cambridge, President of BAFTA, said: “As President of BAFTA, I am delighted to show my continued support for the BAFTA Young Game Designers initiative.

“I am always so impressed with the unique ideas and game-making skills displayed by our Young Game Designers. This year’s finalists prove there is a huge amount of talent within the UK and it is tremendously exciting to see young people so passionate about a craft that could help to launch their career in the British games industry.

“With a large number of entries coming through schools this year, it is encouraging to see teachers and educators regarding BAFTA’s initiative as a valuable means to equip their students with digital skills.”

Nick Button-Brown, Chair of the BAFTA Games Committee, said: “The creativity and skill demonstrated by all of our YGD winners and finalists this year is hugely impressive, exciting and truly inspiring for anyone working in the industry. I'm particularly encouraged by the number of female winners this year and it’s great to see that initiatives such as YGD have inspired such a diverse and talented group of young people to try their hand at game design, with some astounding results.”

Chris Ashworth, Programme Director at Nominet Trust, said: “At Nominet Trust, we’re passionate about creating opportunities for young people to engage in digital making, particularly girls who are under-represented in the games industry and people from disadvantaged backgrounds. We’re thrilled to see that 75% of this year’s winners are female. The imagination, creativity and thought that has gone in to all of the entries has been overwhelming. Congratulations to the winners and the finalists on their achievements which will provide inspiration to many more young people.

The BAFTA YGD competition is part of a year-round programme of activity that gives young people and educators unique insights into the games industry and access to the creative minds behind some of their favourite games. Support includes: a website (www.bafta.org/ygd) where BAFTA members, award winners and nominees share their insights and advice and a range of teaching resources that link the BAFTA YGD competition to the national curriculum. Nominet Trust – the UK’s only dedicated tech for good funder – is headline partner of the initiative, working with BAFTA to develop additional schools-focussed activity to engage under-represented groups, including women and young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, in the games workforce. Other supporting partners of BAFTA Young Game Designers include: Criterion, Jagex, King, Ubisoft, SEGA, Sony Interactive Entertainment, Unity and WB Games. Abertay University will support the development of the games of the winners of the BAFTA YGD competition.

For further details about the initiative, visit www.bafta.org/ygd.

BAFTA YGD winners in 2017 – further information:


Game Concept Award (10-14) – TorchLighter

Elsie Mae Williams (13 years)

Penzanze, Cornwall

Your character has just been hired by TorchLighters Inc., a company that provides what is essentially janitorial services to dungeons. As an employee, you will travel to dungeons and make sure they are in working order. As the name implies, you will be lighting torches, but you will also reset traps, lock doors, make sure minions are ready to fight and occasionally perform special tasks for the bosses that hire you.

Game Concept Award (15-18) – Guzzlesarus’s Culinary Capers

Anna Carter (15 years)

Lincoln, East Midlands

Guzzlesarus's Culinary Capers is an exciting adventure game for three to six year olds, which is all about teaching culinary skills. Each week, the parent chooses a recipe from the list which will be cooked at the end of the week with their child; at this point the ingredients list is emailed to them to save any hassle. In build up to the big culinary cook off at the end of the week, a new game arrives each day in HQ relating back to the ingredients in the recipe.

Game Making Award (10-14) – CyberPNK

Spruce Campbell (12 years)

Uckfield, East Sussex

Software: Unity 5.5 in C#

Your friends persuade you to try this amazing new VR software they just cracked. Upon entering the "Hivemind" you are accused of being a convicted criminal, sentenced to indefinite years in the game. A platforming adventure through a dangerous, corporate neon-glowing labyrinth with alternate realities.

Game Making Award (15-18) – Fractured Minds

Emily Mitchell (18 years)

Watford, Hertfordshire

Software: Unity, Autodesk Maya, Photoshop, Audacity

Fractured Minds is an immersive puzzle game that uncovers the daily struggles of people living with anxiety or any mental health issue. It is designed to give the player a genuine insight into the experiences of those quietly living with mental illness – the feelings of isolation, of being trapped, of everyday situations being distorted beyond recognition.

YGD Mentor Award

Dave Chilver, Teacher of IT and Games Design at Lowestoft Sixth Form College

Lowestoft, Suffolk

Dave Chilver is Teacher of IT and Games Design at Lowestoft Sixth Form College in Suffolk. Dave started teaching 10 years ago after completing his degree in Games Design and throughout his career has promoted the games as a viable career path rather than simply a media to be consumed. Outside of timetabled lessons, Dave runs several extracurricular coding and game design sessions, and for the past eight years has led the Lowestoft Game Designers Competition Club for students in the local community. The initiative has gone from strength to strength, and entries are now judged by the University of Suffolk and exhibited at the Norwich Gaming Festival. Across his career, Dave has worked tirelessly to promote computer science and game design to girls, and 46% of entrants to the Lowestoft competition last year were female, many of whom have gone on to study STEM subjects as a result.

YGD Hero Award - Unity Technologies

Unity Technologies is the creator of a flexible and high-performance end-to-end development platform used to create rich interactive 2D, 3D, VR and AR experiences. Unity’s powerful graphics engine and full-featured editor serve as the foundation to develop beautiful games or apps and easily bring them to multiple platforms: mobile devices, home entertainment systems, personal computers, and embedded systems. Unity also offers solutions and services for creating games, boosting productivity, and connecting with audiences including Unity Ads, Unity Analytics, Unity Asset Store, Unity Cloud Build, Unity Collaborate, Unity Connect and Unity Certification. Unity Technologies serves millions of registered developers including large publishers, indie studios, students and hobbyists around the globe. For more information, visit www.unity3d.com and to see the latest games and experiences created in Unity, go to madewith.unity.com.

For a full list of the winners and finalists, and to play the games in the Game Making category, go to http://ygd.bafta.org/winners-nominees