The British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) has announced the 51 finalists, from across the UK, including six from Scotland for the 2021 BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition.
Siblings Polly Watson (14) and Thomas Watson (11) from Haddington were both selected for their respective game ideas entitled: An UNNAMED Game and HotDodge!
Thomas told the Scottish Games Network:
My goal is to have a career in gaming, so I couldn’t have asked for a better start with my first game. I’m really looking forward to having the opportunity to develop my skills with industry professionals.
It would be amazing to see my idea become an actual game and to be able to tell a story that I’ve had stuck in my head for as long as I can remember!
Haddington-based Marilyn Briggs (18) and Louisa Allan (18) were also chosen for their game, To Be and Not To Be. Meanwhile, Peter Owen (13) from Dunblane and Archie Baxter (15) from Tillicoultry were also selected as finalists.
BAFTA Young Game Designers
BAFTA YGD is a year-round programme of public events, workshops and a competition for 10-18 year-olds across the whole of the UK.
The competition culminates 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, which takes 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 hosted the BAFTA Games Awards earlier this year.
Over 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.
This year’s entries 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 of all of the 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!
The finalists will compete for the YGD Game Concept Award and the YGD Game Making Award, both of which split into two categories: 10-14 years and 15-18 years. The Concept Award recognises the best original game idea, while the Game Making Award celebrates 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.
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.