Two Northern Ireland students make final of BAFTA gaming competition

  • Two Kilkeel teenagers made the final of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' (BAFTA) prestigious Young Game Designers (YGD) competition.

    Holly Wright and Rachel Houston, both aged 17, made the final after five months of developing their game concept, 'Space Palette'.

    It involves the player becoming a lone space traveller flying from planet to planet, avoiding the spreading 'colour corruption', which causes planets to be drained of colour before dying.

    BAFTA designed the YGD initiative to support young people in creating, developing and presenting new game ideas to the world, using freely available software. 

    It is a year-round programme of public events, workshops and a competition for 10-18 year-olds, culminating in the annual award ceremony to celebrate finalists and winners. 

    51 young finalists from across the UK attended the the 11th awards ceremony, which was streamed virtually on 8 July, and was hosted by presenter and journalist, Elle Osili-Wood, who also hosted the BAFTA Games Awards earlier this year. 

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    Holly and Rachel said they were surprised at being finalists, but are excited at the new opportunities it will unlock for them within the games industry. 

    “I love daydreaming about different game ideas that I have and what these ideas would look like on a screen," Holly told Sync NI. 

    "Playing games has always been very enjoyable for me, and I wanted to be able to experience my own game and be able to enjoy it as much as all the games that I look up to.”

    Rachel added that 'Space Palette' started off as a class project between the girls.

    "We started by using a randomised generator for the environment, genre, goal and rules and built on the ideas from there," she continued. 

    "We drew inspiration from other games/animations that we enjoy and brought them together to create the idea for our own 2D platformer.”

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    Holly commented, "The inspiration came from a mix of a lot of things.

    "Me and Rachel used flash cards to help generate ideas and then we took a look at some of the games that we already love and drew inspiration from them, taking elements that we enjoyed and seeing if it fits the ideas we already have.”

    The girls both love studying art at school, and hope it leads to futre career prospects when they are older. 

    “I would like to work doing concept art and animation, whether that is within the games or animation industry," noted Rachel. 

    Holly added that ideally, she would "love to be able to work in the game industry", but there are so many different jobs within the sector, "so it's hard to decide.”

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    “I have been interested in gaming for quite a few years now. I discovered the joy of playing games whenever we got a family Wii for Christmas one year, I would spend hours playing games with my siblings or by myself," the Co Down student added. 

    "I've always been interested in playing lots of different games growing up. I especially love RPG and adventure games!” Rachel concluded. 

    The girls were finalists in the 'Game Concept: 15 - 18 years' category. 

    The BAFTA YGD awards ceremony were available to stream on 8 July HERE.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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