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A Closer Look at the 2016 Young Game Designers Competition

On: 7th October 2016
Organisation name: BAFTA

On Saturday 23rd July 2016 BAFTA hosted a special awards ceremony to celebrate the winners of the annual BAFTA Young Games Designers (YGD) competition, in association with Nominet Trust, at their London HQ.

Four talented young people were awarded for their entries in the following categories: Game Concept Award (10-14 years and 15-18 years categories) and Game Making Award (10-14 years and 15-18 years categories).

We caught up with Melissa Phillips, BAFTA’s YGD Event Producer to find out more about the initiative.

The BAFTA YGD awards ceremony is one of my favourite events of the year. It’s a celebration, not only for the winners of the competition, but for the huge amount of talent and creativity we see in every application.

Every year we see a rise in interest in the competition and our judges are consistently surprised at the high standard of games and game designs being entered. Jurors have been known to exclaim “This could be taken to a studio tomorrow morning and could be next year’s best-selling game!”

The submitted game ideas not only rival AAA  (i.e. big budget) studio concepts, but we also see some really interesting themes emerge each year in regards to what seems to be popular with young game designers. Last year we saw a lot of horror entries, whereas this year was all about Ninjas in our younger categories. 

We also see a lot of games that tackle very some serious topics, introducing characters or gameplay that incorporate physical disabilities, mental health and sexuality. I think it’s fantastic that our young game designers are aware of how games can help bring these topics into wider discussion. There is a sense that these issues are being embraced by a younger generation; there is a feeling of care and level of tact in which they approach these themes that is incredibly adult and conscientious. It gives me a huge sense of hope for the future of the UK games industry. 

It is hugely satisfying to see the competition’s effect on inspiring future game designers. Last year saw one of our Game Concept finalists, Kyle Randall, be inspired to actually start to make games. This year, he returned as a finalist in both the Game Concept and Game Making categories.

This year we saw an amazing number of entries by girls for the Games Concept Award which increased from last year. We would love to see more girls make the leap from designing games on paper to actively start to build them into working prototypes. There isn’t an obvious answer as to how to improve on this, but we are committed in continuing to provide resources for young people, and the adults who inspire them, to help develop their ideas and realise that there are some fantastic opportunities available to them in the games industry.

Moving forward, I am confident that we will continue to see great ideas from our young game designers. We are constantly updating the competition to keep up with the changing technologies used by our entrants. For example, next year we will be increasing our game file size allowance to allow for larger data, there will also be a new web series exploring the process of game design, and we will be introducing new resources to our website.

For more information about BAFTA Young Game Designers, visit www.bafta.org/ygd.