The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has opened entries for its 11th annual BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition for 10 – 18 year olds, celebrating new games talent and inspiring the UK’s future game makers by giving young people the chance to design or make their own game.
For over 10 years, BAFTA YGD has highlighted the positive impact of games on young people, their parents and teachers, offering information on the careers available within the games industry, and allowing an opportunity for the next generation of game-makers to showcase their creativity.
Previous winners of the BAFTA YGD competition have gone on to be award-winning within the games industry. Dan Pearce (2010 winner) was named a BAFTA Breakthrough in 2013, with his game, Castles in the Sky, earning him a BAFTA-nomination for Debut Game in 2014. 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 and has since been released commercially. Emily Mitchell (2017 winner) is currently working with a games publisher to release her game commercially and Spruce Campbell (2017 winner) has self-published his game on the App Store.
Entries are now open at http://ygd.bafta.org/ and will close on Monday 15 March 2021. Entries are shortlisted to 40 finalists from across the UK, who will be announced in June. The winners will be announced at a special virtual BAFTA ceremony in July 2021, following the success of the first digital YGD ceremony this year.
All finalists receive a bundle of games goodies from YGD partners, a series of exclusive masterclasses and the opportunity for digital mentorship and careers advice from Into Games. Alongside a BAFTA YGD Award, winners additionally receive bespoke advice and support in developing their game ideas.
Chair of the BAFTA Games Committee, Jo Twist, said: “The BAFTA YGD competition offers a unique opportunity for young people to explore the world of game design, get creative with their ideas and use the competition as a springboard into the industry. Games play an important role in telling stories and each year with YGD we see entries that tackle difficult issues for young people. This year, more than ever, getting creative with games design could be that really important creative outlet for young people to tell their stories and I look forward to seeing the exciting games that will come out of this year’s competition.”
Michael Ballantyne, BAFTA YGD Winner 2020, said: “The BAFTA experience didn’t just end at the awards ceremony, ever since my name was announced there has been an abundance of masterclasses, advice and insight into the gaming industry. For anyone pursuing a career in game development, BAFTA YGD is invaluable. Despite COVID-19 the BAFTA team has been committed to the inspiration and education of the next generation of game devs. With the feedback and direct contact from leading industry figures that BAFTA provided I can confidently say I would never be at this level on my own so soon.”
Evie Sanger-Davies, BAFTA YGD Winner 2020, said: “The things that YGD have organised this year have been so insightful into the industry and have really opened my eyes to the opportunities in games. It is amazing to think that one small idea can turn into a whole new path for your future. I think anybody can get involved and make games! You can learn so much just by entering, and really see what it takes to get into the games industry. I have decided I really want to work in games as an artist and I discovered that passion from entering YGD. Winning the award has opened up so many new doors into the games industry that I never knew existed.”
There are five award categories in the competition: the YGD Game Concept Award, split into 10-14 years and 15-18 years categories, for those creating an original concept for a new game, and the YGD Game Making Award, also split into 10-14 years and 15-18 years, for those making a game using freely available software. Entrants can enter either as individuals or with a team of up to three people.
The YGD Mentor Award will return in 2021, to recognise an inspirational individual who is involved in the education of young game creators in the UK, particularly those that reach out to young people who might not have access to games design.
The competition is one of the cornerstones of BAFTA’s charitable activity, providing young people and teachers unique access to the games industry and top professionals through competitions, online teaching tools, workshops and social networks. BAFTA YGD engaged close to 1,500 young people in 2020, with entries submitted across the UK (over 85% from outside of London) and over a fifth of entries coming from young people from a low socio-economic background.
YGD also engages with teachers and provides free educational resources including a YGD app which features an Idea Generator, worksheets, lesson plans and videos, as well as assessing what resources the educational sector needs in order to support career pathways in game design.