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BAFTA launches kids' games design comp

Plus: top tips from last year's winner.

BAFTA this morning launched its second annual games design competition for kids, to help encourage them to consider a career in the games industry.

Teams of three 11-16 year-olds are invited to pitch their idea for a game to BAFTA's Young Game Designers judging panel. The winner, crowned at this year's BAFTA Children's Awards, gets their design coded up into a working prototype by a team at Dundee's Abertay university.

A launch event is running throughout the day at London's Westfield shopping centre, with young celebs like Outnumbered's Tyger Drew-Honey and Waterloo Road's Millie Katana due to appear as ambassadors for the project.

Other stars, including Arsenal's Jack Wilshire and The Sarah Jane Adventure's Anjil Mohindra, who you can see in the video below, have been recruited to lend a supportive word or two.

The initiative has also won the support of the Government, with Culture Minister Ed Vaizey commenting: “I am delighted BAFTA is running the competition again. Initiatives like this one help encourage and nurture emerging talent while also inspiring others to be more creative."

If you or your kids fancy entering, full details are available on the official Young Game Designers website.

Eurogamer was on last year's judging panel and was thoroughly impressed by the standard of entries, particular the winner, Hamster: Accidental World Domination by Beached Whale Productions.

We asked team leader Dan Pearce about what his win means seven months on and what advice he has for this year's entrants:

"There is no doubt in my mind that BAFTA's Young Game Designers competition is the best opportunity for young, aspiring game developers right now.

"Winning it last year was an incredible experience and it provided me and my team with a number of industry contacts, work experience, a working prototype of our game, and credibility amongst those in the industry. BAFTA is doing a really great thing for young designers out there.

"If I were asked seven or eight months ago to say what the essential skills for winning would be I'd likely say design theory, a sense of making a project's production achievable with the resources available, and an idea of how a product should be marketed.

"That's still true but there are a few more essential skills that are critically important to take into account: communication, networking, and making the most of your resources.

"Communicating an idea is important and if you're planning on entering Young Game Designers this year then you need to make every word count: your pitch must be clear and easy to understand.

"If you've not got a Twitter account yet then I'd advise that as well. There are plenty of developers and students who'll be more than willing to discuss design with you. There are tons of fantastic resources out there also. I highly advise that any budding designer to watch Extra Credits and Jools Watsham's video blogs - you will learn bucket loads.

"Most importantly, have fun. It seems like a no brainer but it's the most important thing when designing an experience for people to play. Best of luck to anyone entering this year!"

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Johnny Minkley


Johnny Minkley is a veteran games writer and broadcaster, former editor of Eurogamer TV, VP of gaming charity SpecialEffect, and hopeless social media addict.