Search For A Star, Sumo Digital Rising Star Finals Day & the Grads in Games Awards 2019

On April 17th game dev students, challenge participants and finalists, academics, studio representatives and industry heavyweights all descended on Sheffield for one of the UK’s biggest student-oriented game development events, the Search For A Star and Sumo Digital Rising Star Finals Day, created and run by Grads in Games.

The Search For A Star and Sumo Digital Rising Star finals day was held in conjunction with the returning Grads in Games Awards at Sheffield Hallam University and The National Videogame Museum. The full day conference and evening awards ceremony was a free event for all those interested in the gaming industry as a career, especially students currently studying towards that goal.

Attendees were treated to a range of well received talks by industry professionals Phil Owen – d3t, Jason Avent – TT Odyssey, Tara Saunders – Sony Interactive, Philip Oliver – Game Dragons, and an insightful open forum Q&A with a panel of industry professionals finishing their first year of employment as game devs.

Running alongside the industry talks and academic round table was a careers expo featuring stands and representatives from some of the UK’s most prominent and growing studios, including Sumo Digital, TT Odyssey, d3t, nDreams, Wargaming UK and Bulkhead Interactive, providing advice, guidance and discussing opportunities with game dev students throughout the day. The Grads in Games consultants were also on hand to offer support and information to games dev students about entering the games industry. Visitors also had a chance to don a VR headset and play the incredibly fun Shooty Fruity from nDreams.

Whilst visitors to finals day were making the most of the industry talks and studio expo, Grads in Games hosted an academic round table between studio representatives and games educators. Providing studios and academics with the opportunity to get together and discuss face to face how best to prepare and educate game dev students for a career in the industry. The round table was a great success, with all participants positive about the discussions held over the afternoon session.

For the thirty Search For A Star and Sumo Digital Rising Star finalists the day also included the last stage of the game dev challenge, an interview with industry experts from their chosen discipline; programming, character art, environment art, VFX and animation. Following the interview process the industry judges retired to determine the winner of each category based on both the strength of the work created for the game dev challenge and the finalist’s interview performance.

Once the day’s activities were complete it was the time to move to The National Videogame Museum for the evening’s award ceremonies. Attendees had the museum to themselves for the whole evening and made the most the opportunity to play on over 60 interactive exhibits at the museum, from classics such as Sonic and Duck Hunt to original games, unique to the museum.

The Grads in Games awards ceremony kicked off the evening with awards going to universities, academics, studios and students who are actively working to improve the links between students and the gaming industry. Nominated by their peers, the shortlists were full of worthy candidates, this year’s winners were:

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Academic Award – Matthew Novak, University of Huddersfield.

Best Educational Institution – Breda University of Applied Sciences.

Student Hero – Helen Andrzejowska, Ellie Brown, Zachray Cundall (Ocean Spark Studios), University of Huddersfield.

Core Tech Programmer (sponsored by d3t) – John Green, University of Central Lancashire.

Technical Artist – Bailey Martin, Solent University.

Student Game Award (sponsored by Epic Games) – En Garde! from Rubika Supinfogame.

Industry Collaboration – Sheffield Hallam and Sony/PlayStation First.

Graduate Employer – Frontier Developments.

Graduate Impact – Megan Brown, Frontier Developments.

To find out more about the winners of the 2019 Grads in Games Awards click here.


Next up and rounding off the day’s events was the Search for a Star and Sumo Digital Rising Star winner’s ceremony. After months of hard work and extracurricular effort it was time for the finalists to find out who had triumphed this year:

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Search For A Star Games Programming – Nick Pearson, University of Bristol.

Sumo Digital Rising Star Games Programming – Tahar Meijs, Breda University of Applied Sciences.

Search For A Star Environment Art – Jimmy Ghysens, Howest DAE.

Sumo Digital Rising Star Environment Art – Reece Parrinder, University of Huddersfield.

Search For A Star Character Art – Ellie Brown, University of Huddersfield.

Sumo Digital Rising Star Character Art – Melissa Hamer, University of Huddersfield.

Search For A Star Games VFX – Kidman Lee, University of Hertfordshire.

Search For A Star / Sumo Digital Rising Star Games Animation – Maciej Osuch, Escape Studios / Pearson College.

For more information on each of the 2019 Search For A Star & Sumo Digital Rising Star winners click here.

Grads in Games would like to thank the finals day judges, their respective studios and all of the stage 1 and stage 2 assessors who have given their time, experience and expertise throughout the competition. The input of the judges and assessors is key to the success of the Search For A Star and Sumo Digital Rising Star challenges. As is the support of the partner studios and patrons, without which the initiatives wouldn’t be possible. Their support and belief in the Grads in Games initiatives, both the Search For A Star game dev challenges and the Get In The Game student careers events, shows the importance of running such activities. Thank you to Epic GamesSumo DigitalnDreamsBoss AlienTT Odysseyd3tRed Kite GamesFurious BeeFirespriteFirst Touch Games, Sheffield Hallam University & the National Videogame Museum.

Games Education Summit closes

The GamesEd19 conference closed today with a succession of spirited discussions about the state of games education involving over 100 games universities, studios and 3rd sector organisations.

The Summit was generously supported by Epic Games, Sheffield Hallam University, Grads in Games, Kollider, Staffordshire University and Aim Awards, and was organised by the BGI with pivotal assistance from BGI Advisory Board member Philip Oliver from GameDragons.

Delegates from over 50 different universities and further education colleges, more than 30 studios and other related organisations such as recruiters and non-profits debated how industry engages with educators, how educators prepare students for working in games studios, the need for greater diversity amongst students, lecturers and developers, and the strategic requirements for bridging the gap between industry and education

The Summit featured practical case studies of how industry worked with educators to create Level 3 diplomas and apprenticeships.

Ian Livingstone CBE, Dr. Jake Habgood from Sheffield Hallam University, Mike Gamble from Epic Games and Dr Chris Lowthorpe from the London College of Communication gave keynotes.

Feedback from delegates on the inaugural event was positive and constructive, with many, including a new working group focused on practical outputs and new programmes, looking forward to the 2020 Summit which will take place in April 2020.

The BGI would like to thank all attendees, panelists and moderators for their input and vigorous discussions.

Please see a picture below of our keynote discussion from Ian Livingstone.

BGI launches FutureLearn course: supporting those wanting to start a career in games development

BGI has announced a new course on the FutureLearn social learning platform that trains those wishing to start careers in games development.

4 developers from Sumo Digital and Square Enix share their experiences of starting their games careers, describing how they applied, prepared, interviewed and then started a career in videogames.

Claire Boissiere from Harbee Studios, Kath Bidwell from State of Play, Ian Goodall from Aardvark Swift, Karen Mcloughlin from Sumo Digital and Ed Perkins from Square Enix share expert advice on what they look for in candidates and what to expect in the job application process.

Through videos, discussions, tools, quizzes, peer reviews and articles, the course will cover a multitude of different aspects in preparing for a career in videogames. These include: the technical and interpersonal skills used in studios; how learners can map their skills to those listed in job applications; how studios assess job applications; how learners can demonstrate potential in CVs, cover letters and interviews; what to expect from games interviews and how to prepare for them.

The course has been designed by the BGI with advice from recruitment and production specialists to help prepare people to start careers in games development. It will be hosted by Narrative Designer and Journalist, Chella Ramanam.

Rick Gibson, BGI CEO: “Thousands of people are studying games development degree courses hoping to start exciting careers in games development. We want to help them, by using the first hand experience of developers who recently started their games careers, tempered with the advice from senior producers, studio heads and recruiters who kindly lent their time and advice for the production. We’re delighted to be partnering with FutureLearn, whose powerful online social learning platform is ideally suited to delivering this course.”

Enrollment opens at at 1400 on Monday 15th April, and the first course starts on 27th May 2019.

The course is free to join, with completion certificates and unlimited access to the course materials available for £42.

Concerted action will help tackle the deep-rooted problem of diversity in games development

Rick wrote the following article for the women in games campaign, which launched yesterday.

Over 20 years, I’ve watched the games sector change beyond recognition, apart from the gender profile in our developers, which is changing excruciatingly slowly by comparison. The sector is missing opportunities in audience, creative and economic potential from a more diverse workforce, but a concerted push by multiple agencies could trigger real, meaningful change.

Both men and women are gamers

The old stereotype – that games are played exclusively by young males – died two decades ago. Today, players’ genders reflect the general population in the West, yet the people who make games in British companies are still overwhelmingly male. If your developers reflect your audience, you’re more likely to deliver something your audience will enjoy.

Monocultures destroy creativity, damage staff retention and make staff less productive. They should be anathema to a creative industry that thrives on ideas. Diverse teams create better products from more sources of inspiration, contrasting viewpoints and stronger, broader ideas.

Financial gains for diverse companies

Diverse companies also perform better economically than non-diverse companies. A recent study found that companies with diverse executive teams are 21% more likely to have above-average profits. Simply put, companies become more viable, sustainable and profitable with diverse teams and boards.

Supply limits demand

Studios often do hire in their own image but they’re at the end of a long supply chain that starts young and is, whether inadvertently or not, filtering out more diverse candidates from an early age. Fewer girls learn to code than boys. More females drop STEM subjects at GCSE, which leads to fewer female candidates taking games diplomas and fewer studying games development at university, despite unprecedented growth in such courses in recent years. Too few female candidates make studios’ shortlists and so change stalls.

Get in early to encourage women and girls into gaming careers

What to do about it? Berating the games sector for not being diverse hasn’t worked. To tackle this intractable problem, you have to start young, at the beginning of that talent supply chain. If young females are not shown the potential of a career in games at an early age, then they won’t choose foundation subjects to build careers in games. Inspirational programmes such as Women in Games’ Ambassador programme are leading the way.

Work together to improve the visibility of opportunities

The games sector has a range of educational programmes like our Pixelheads after-school clubs and National Videogame Museum, Digital Schoolhouse, NextGen Skills Academy, TIGA university accreditation, our training programmes and Women in Games’ other programmes. They’re great, but mostly underfunded and badly signposted, which makes it difficult for young females to navigate a career path into games.

We’re working with many of these programmes plus leading further/higher education partners to collaborate and coordinate a new pan-sector initiative to tackle this deep-rooted problem through all of our programmes. There are signs that industry is getting the message and ready to change. A concerted approach from all the third sector organisations can have major impact on improving the supply of talented young women into games companies.

Women in Games campaign launches

The BGI is proud to support the launch of the Women in Games campaign, which is driving home the message about the need for more diversity in games studios in the UK and is supported by our friends at TIGA and Ukie.

You can read more about it here.

Thanks to MediaPlanet for organising the campaign, which we will be promoting at the National Videogame Museum, at the Games Education Summit 2019 and online.


National Videogame Museum Welcomes Grads in Games Awards

Grads in Games Awards & ‘Search for a Star’ & ‘Sumo Digital Rising Star’ Finals and Conference Day returns on April 17th, with this year’s event being even bigger and better than ever.

Brought to you by Grads in Games (an Aardvark Swift initiative) this year’s event is being held at Sheffield Hallam University and The National Videogame Museum on April 17th from 9am to 8pm.

The event is free to all students in games education, lecturers and academics involved in games related courses, and games industry professionals who are interested in the next generation of developers. For ticket information contact

There will be talks throughout the day from games industry professionals, an academic round table discussion with UK games studios and games educators, and a networking lunch between industry professionals, students and academics.

Confirmed speakers for this year’s event include:

Phil Owen – d3t

Jason Avent – TT Odyssey

Philip Oliver – Game Dragons

Attendees can also meet with studios exhibiting on the day to chat about the industry and careers. Current confirmed exhibitors are Sumo Digital, TT Odyssey, nDreams, d3t, Wargaming, Bulkhead Interactive.

Our industry judges will be interviewing the competition finalists on the day, the last stage for participants after battling their way through two competition rounds over the past few months. Final deliberations will be made, and the winners decided.

The day is rounded off at The National Videogame Museum with the Grads in Games Awards and the crowning of this year’s category winners of the Search For A Star and Sumo Digital Rising Star competitions.

This event couldn’t be organised without the help and support of the Grads in Games partners: Boss Alien, d3t, Epic, Firesprite, First Touch Games, nDreams, Red Kite Games, Sumo Digital.

For more info on our sponsors, visit our website to see their profiles

Serpentine Galleries launches open call for AR developers on ambitious project

Our partners the Serpentine Galleries have issued a call for proposals for a project called Serpentine Augmented Architecture, a brand new AR commission that will be available for the public to view on site at the Serpentine in Summer 2019.

They are keen to reach a wide range of creative practitioners from game designers to artists and technologists to respond to a brief developed with Sir David Adjaye and Google.

The Serpentine Galleries are very forward thinking about bringing the worls of the Arts and games together in ambitious, playful digital installations, and have commissioned games before.

The deadline is the 25 February, 10AM GMT.

The website for the open call is also here:

BGI launches Games Education Summit 2019

Sheffield, 07/02/2019: New conference bridging the gap between games educators and games sector launches in April.

The BGI is launching a new conference on games education to be held at Ko-Host, Sheffield’s new city centre event space at Kollider and the National Videogame Museum in Sheffield on Monday 15th – Tuesday 16th April. The Games Education Summit 2019 brings together 40 games course leaders from further and higher education, developers and HR staff from studios, recruitment companies, 3rd sector organisations and policymakers to trigger more collaboration, dialogue and best practice sharing in the first of a series of annual conferences.

Over 1.5 days, the conference will tackle the big issues in games education including employability, diversity, skills required by studios, apprenticeships, how industry can collaborate with educators, best practice pedagogical and course design and starting up from university.

Keynotes will be delivered by Ian Livingstone CBE, Mike Gamble from Epic Games, Dr Jake Habgood from Sheffield Hallam University and Dr Chris Lowthorpe from London College of Communication.

The Summit is sponsored by Sheffield Hallam University, Epic Games, Kollider, Aardvark Swift, Staffordshire University and AIM Awards.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Other speakers from the educational sector include Dr Alan O’Dea from Staffordshire University, Dr Sharon Tolaini-Sage from Norwich University of the Arts, Abertay University, Fede Fasce from Goldsmiths, Dr Carlo Harvey from Birmingham City University, Dr Umran Ali from Salford University, Dr Charlie Hargood from Bournemouth University, Falmouth University, Dr Peter Howell  from Portsmouth University, Teesside University, Dr Chris Windmill from Derby University, Chris Headleand from Lincoln University, Jane Reed and Ant Cain from Sunderland College, James Bennett-Hill and Matthew Goodlad from The Sheffield College and Geoff Moore from the Confetti Institute of Creative Technologies.

 Other speakers from the sector include Philip Oliver from GameDragons, Rick Gibson from the BGI, Ian Goodall from Aardvark Swift, 3 speakers from Rebellion, Karen Hedger from AIM, Karen Mcloughlin from Sumo, Melissa Jo Knox from Rare, Emma Smith from Creative Assembly, Marcia Deakin from NextGen Skills Academy, Marie-Claire Isaaman from Women in Games, Tom Murray from Dovetail Games, David Smith from Interactive Selection, Nick Duncombe from Playground Games, Unit 2 Games, Mark Eyles from TIGA and Dan Wood from Ukie.

The BGI is also launching a survey ( of educators and studios on games recruitment and education. Educators are asked to share information on their courses, the biggest challenges they face and what they need from industry. Studios are asked to share information on hiring graduates, working with educational institutes and use of apprenticeships. The anonymised data from the survey will be used to highlight best practice and allow respondents to suggest areas for further improvements and collaboration.

Ian Livingstone CBE said “This unique conference takes a strategic view of games education today, informing games course leaders and games studios about where the opportunities and challenges lie. The Summit will focus the debate on how UK studios and educational establishments can work together more effectively.”

Rick Gibson, CEO of the BGI, said: “To address the challenges and opportunities in games education and the talent pipeline, we need all the players in the same room, sharing how they work, what worked, what failed, how to improve and collaborate.”

Dr. Jake Habgood, Course Leader for Games at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “It’s incredibly valuable for educators to have a forum to discuss the collective challenges we face in games education and learn from the best practice of friends and colleagues with a common goal.”

Philip Oliver, co-chair and co-organiser of the Summit, said: “The Industry needs additional talent, especially as attracting overseas talent becomes harder due to Brexit. So we need to embrace and support educators, to ensure that the next generation of developers are not only inspired, but that they are taught what is required by industry and are able to arrive ‘job ready.”




2018 – a year of collaborations

Looking back on 2018, the first year of our existence, it was a year of collaborations to support projects, run live events, colaborate on bids and deliver our programmes.

We enjoyed working with over 60 different organisations on projects large and small, as well as members of our hard-working Advisory Board.

Thank you to all our partners and we look forward to another year of collaborations with more amazing organisations and companies.

BGI partners in 2018

Abertay University, Ali Hossaini, Anim18, Arts Council England, Bath Spa University, Bolton and Quinn, British Academy, British Library, Climax Studios, Code Liberation, Confetti, Craig Fletcher, Creative England , Creative Europe. Creative Scotland, David Wise, deltaDNA, Downing, Draw and Code, Dream Reality Interactive, FutureLearn, Game Republic, IGDA Scotland, Imperial War Museum, Islamic Relief, Jessica Curry, Kings College London, LCI, Leeds Digital Festival, Levehulme Trust, Make Real, Mattereum, Meg Jayanth, Mercia Technologies, Mixed Reality Labs, National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, Nottingham City Council, Nottingham Libraries, Nottingham Theatre Royal and Concert Hall, Nottingham Trent University, Pilot Theatre, PlayIgnite, Playlines, Ritsumeikan University, Royal Concert Hall Nottingham, Royal Museums Greenwich, Scape Technologies, Serpentine Gallery, Sheffield Children’s Hospital, Sheffield City Council, Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield Industrial Museums, Somerset House, UK Young Artists, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh Futures Institute, University of Nottingham, University of Sheffield, Werkflow, Wiggin, William Galinsky, Women in Games, York Mediale and the Digital Creativity Labs at York University.

Thank you to the NVM’s Founder Patrons

We would like to send a massive thank you to the National Videogame Museum’s Founder Patrons, who have made our move and relaunch a resounding success:

Individuals Companies
Ian Livingstone CBE

Carl Cavers

Andy Payne OBE

Jonathan Smith

The Oliver Twins

Craig Fletcher

Alexis Kennedy

Darren Mills

Kelly Sumner

Paul Porter

Ian Stewart

John Romero

Miles Jacobson

Darryl Still

Joel Benton



Curve Digital

First Touch Games

Sumo Digital

State of Play

Epic Games

UsTwo Games


Playground Games

Introversion Software

Makey Makey

Wiggin LLP

Crows Crows Crows

SEGA Europe

Purewal and Partners


SFB Games



Supermassive Games


Studio Gobo


Interactive Studio Management


University of Nottingham

We would also like to thank Sheffield City Council for their generous support.

The NVM is the UK’s only permanent playable videogame museum featuring over 60 playable exhibits from a growing collection of over 100 titles from the past, present and future of videogames.

If you want to support videogame culture in the UK, please contact us to become a Patron or a Friend, or you can help the NVM by funding it through Patreon.