Aimed at young people between the ages of 10 and 18, the competition aims to provide an insight into the world of game making, as well as the chance to win once-in-a-lifetime experiences with top game makers.
There are two areas of the competition, the Game Making Award and the Game Concept Award. There are also age brackets and singular or team entries available, meaning that entrants can either enter individually, or as part of a pair or three-person team.
The Game Making Award is tailored for those that are already capable of coding, and making their own games from scratch. Last year’s winners were Charlie Thurston (10-14 years) and Daniel Smith (15-18 years), who created text-based adventure game Apocalypse Alpha and first person puzzler Spectrum respectively. Prizes included the opportunity to team up with top gaming experts that work with the winners and their games to develop it.
Alongside the Game Making Award, BAFTA YGD also run a Game Concept Award, that opens up the floor to those that are interested in creating stories and ideas for games, but are yet to have a handle on coding it themselves. The entries are judged purely on the idea of the game that is presented, and so flawless drawing skills or novel-level prose are not required to make the cut. Last year’s winners Aysheq Hussain (10 -14 years) and Nic Gordon presented concepts that both followed the traditional platform game format (Hussain’s Imagibots) and used virtual reality driven puzzle and exploration elements (Gordon’s YOU ARE BEING FOLLOWED).
There are also categories for which members of the public can nominate a great teacher or code club leader for the YGD Mentor Award, or a figure or organisation in the professional games industry for the YGD Hero Award.
The YGD Mentor Award aims to reward those that are involved in inspiring young people to turn their hand to game design, especially those that may not typically try such an outlet. 2016’s winner was Head of Games Development at Cambridge Regional College, Michael Warburton, who also created Rizing Games, the first FE educational commercial sales development studio in the UK. Michael’s work at both CRC gives young game developers the chance to earn a qualification in game development, and an opportunity to build a portfolio of work that is essential to help them land their first job and launch their careers.
Games such as LittleBigPlanet and Tearaway are the influential programs that won studio Media Molecule the YGD Hero Award in 2016. Now one of the industry’s most pioneering developers, Media Molecule has grown from a small team working out of an office above a bathroom shop, and are picking up all kinds of awards across the gaming world. Of their win, they said “We are completely thrilled and honoured to be presented with the BAFTA YGD Hero Award […] It’s always so inspiring to see how much talent and dedication these incredible young people have and we can’t wait to see what the future holds – we’re in good hands!”
This year’s competition is currently open for submissions from anyone that is aged between 10 and 18 at the beginning of the current school year (1st September 2016, or 17th August 2016 for Scotland), and requires a signed consent form from a parent or guardian.
The deadline for the 2017 YGD is 5pm on Wednesday 3rd May 2017, and entries can be submitted online at ygd.bafta.org.
More information can also be found on the site, including full entry regulations and FAQs. There are also resources available for parents and teachers that may like to know more about the competition, and how to get young people involved. Coding and gaming is a huge area of focus in EdTech at the moment, and with awards like this one becoming more popular, the UK is set to see some extraordinary new faces in the industry very soon.