Islamic Relief Launches New Game at the National Videogame Museum

On the 17th October 2017, Islamic Relief UK, the world leading humanitarian relief charity, launched a new videogame at the National Videogame Museum in Sheffield. The game, ‘Virtue Reality’, is based on real international development projects run by Islamic Relief in more than 40 countries across the world, from Pakistan to Mali. The game, developed in partnership with Ultimatum Games, aims to teach young people how international aid works, whilst also combating negative perceptions of Muslims in videogames.

Local school children traveled from across Sheffield to attend the launch of the event, and were amongst the first to try out the game. It is currently available on iOS, and will be released for Google Play Store soon. The launch also ties in with Charity Week, a fundraising campaign among Muslim students in the UK.

The BGI is incredibly pleased to have played a part in the development of Virtue Reality, and of subsequently hosting the launch event at the National Videogame Museum. The event was hugely successful, with local school children engaging greatly with the game. The event was also covered by BBC Look North, BBC Online, Charity Digital News, Islam Channel, GEO News.

Please find a gallery of pictures from the event below:

BGI completes charity registration, sets out strategy

Sheffield, 27th May, 2019: The BGI is now an educational charity and has revealed its mission and programmes.

The new charity’s goals are to educate the public about the art, science, history and technology of games through the National Videogame Museum, educational programmes and formal research. The BGI is the first charity dedicated to games culture in the UK.

The National Videogame Museum lies at the heart of the BGI’s plans in Sheffield. This includes a busy summer schedule of exhibitions and events at the galleries, before Japanese games luminaries including Masayuki Uemura, former head of R&D at Nintendo, visit to give talks at the Museum. The Pixelheads education programme is also expanding into Yorkshire with the help of the Arts Council of England, Learn Sheffield and Sheffield City Council.

Following the launch of the Games Education Summit in April, the BGI is launching its first FutureLearn course, How to Start your Career in Games Development, developed with assistance from Sumo Digital, Square Enix and Aardvark Swift.

BGI has also opened offices at the University of Nottingham. The Nottingham team will work on educational and cultural initiatives, develop games festivals and other cultural events around the country and extend its formal research into games culture. The team’s ninth publication on games heritage preservation and curation is expected to be published late in 2019.

Ian Livingstone CBE, Chair of BGI Trustees, said: “We’re delighted that the unique work conducted by BGI programmes such as the National Videogame Museum and Pixelheads has been recognised by the Charity Commission. This is timely validation for all the hard work in championing games culture that our small but growing team has been doing in the Museum. I invite anyone who cares about the cultural life of video games to join us and support this amazing project with content, evangelism and funding to help expand the programme in the years to come.”

Claire Boissiere, Vice Chair of BGI Trustees, said: “This is a really exciting time for the BGI. Successfully registering as a charity enables us to grow our range of programmes and partner with a much wider group of organisations interested in culture, skills, diversity and sustainability.”

BGI and Bath Spa University lead British-Japanese collaboration to preserve games heritage

The BGI and Bath Spa University have won Research Council funding to start a new games heritage preservation project that builds ties between Japan and the UK to preserve games heritage.

The project brings together Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto, Bath Spa University and the National Videogame Museum (NVM) in Sheffield to identify and share best practice in game preservation, curation and exhibition. The project is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

A series of collaborations, visits and research starts in May 2019, when the BGI’s Head of Collections Professor James Newman and NVM Director of Culture Iain Simons visit Kyoto, before leading Japanese videogames heritage academics, including the legendary Japanese hardware designer Masayuki Uemura, former head of R&D at Nintendo, visit the UK later in the summer.

The work brings together experts from some of the world’s leading videogames heritage preservation institutions to map the preservation of ‘at risk’ videogames material, identify the latest innovations in the curation and exhibition of videogames and investigate solutions to legal, technical and infrastructural impediments to their preservation and exhibition. A parallel series of events and lectures are planned in both countries before articles are published in journals in early 2020.

The project is a step towards a large-scale exhibition with the NVM in 2020 that will foreground the underrepresented histories of UK and Japanese game development, culture and practice, including the decades of interactions and flows of talent and creativity between these two pioneers and key players in videogaming.

James Newman, Professor of Digital Media at Bath Spa University, said “Videogames are a vital part of contemporary popular culture but they’re in danger of disappearing. As old systems and storage media fail, we run the risk of losing access to games forever so it’s essential that we take steps to preserve them for future generations of players, gamemakers and researchers. Working with the National Videogame Museum and Ritsumeikan Center for Game Studies ensures that the project brings together world-leading institutions in the field and allows us to take a truly international approach to the challenges of game preservation, interpretation and exhibition.”

Iain Simons, Director of Culture for the BGI and NVM, said “We’re honoured to be working on this new research project, hoping to add to the knowledge and best-practise of museums around the World through this exciting collaboration. The NVM is an international institution and has enjoyed a long relationship with our esteemed colleagues in Ritsumeikan University as well as colleagues from around the World. Videogames are a global culture, so it’s right that videogame interpretation and preservation is a global effort. We’re excited to be playing our part!”

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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.

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 bit.ly/gamescareercourse 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.

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 martin@aswift.com

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 www.gradsingames.com.

Continue Annual Conference @ York Mediale

The beginning of October saw the latest in the BGI’s series of Continue events. Co-organised by Pilot Theatre and York Mediale, this ambitious two-day annual conference brought together heavyweight speakers from the games, culture and arts sectors, deep insights into some of the most creative and immersive theatre, storytelling and education projects – along with game jams, badgers, and a group of three year olds stress-testing new interfaces for gameplay and blasting into space. Typical Continue fare then!

The two days kicked off with BGI Culture Director Iain Simons discussing the importance of ‘platforms’. Looking over through the experience built up over a decade of running the GameCity festival and the National Videogame Arcade, Iain spoke about the way in which different configurations of creative constraints had created new platforms for commissioning exciting work throughout buildings, in specific rooms or across entire city centres.

The call to think about establishing new platforms for making and commissioning creative work was picked up by the NVA’s Professor James Newman who led the diverse audience of arts and theatre practitioners through their first experience of game making. Based around the unexpected – and unexpectedly inspiring – theme of ‘badgers’, eight teams spent an hour and a half of focused making, breaking and remaking as they designed, playtested and refined their creations. As well as giving rise to the most amazingly varied set of word games, puzzle games and board games, the session highlighted ways of using game mechanics to explore complex ideas (from debates around the control of TB to authenticity of ‘alternative facts’) and showcased new ways of encouraging a greater diversity of participation in gamemaking.

The morning was rounded off by a presentation by Professors Peter Cowling and Marian Ursu from the University of York‘s Digital Creativity Labs on creativity and AI. Provocatively entitled ‘Is creativity the last bastion of humanity?’, Peter and Marian began by considering whether creativity is a uniquely human trait and ended with a fascinating discussion about whether an AI capable of creating visual art or cinematic set design could ever really ‘care’ about what it was doing in the same way as an human.

The afternoon programme comprised talks and showcases by a diverse range of artists and gamemakers including Simon Will from the internationally-renowned collective Gobsquad speaking about the robot opera ‘My Square Lady’, Sarah Butcher from Non Zero One and Tom Bowtell and Elliott Hall from KIT Theatre talking about the pioneering work in immersive theatre.

Sam Barlow made a break in his hectic production schedule and Skyped in from New York to talk about the inspiration for the smash-hit game ‘Her Story’ and the process of creating an original experience based around a computer interface and the true crime genre of fiction. Discussing the perhaps surprising absence of Her Story clones, Sam spoke about the challenges and opportunities of working on the much-anticipated spiritual sequel with the support of Annapurna Interactive.

The first day concluded with Continue’s infamous ‘Panel Machine’ firing out questions on arts funding, code clubs and the U.K. computing curriculum, and opportunities for more cross-sector networking and collaboration.

Again, set in the wonderful Hospitium building in the heart of the grounds of Yorkshire Museum, day two began with the Playable Conference and it was nothing if not diverse. Virtual Reality, the UK premiere of binaural soundworks Nightmare and Sweet Sixteen, brainwave controlled movies with over 17 trillion possible narrative combinations created by the University of Nottingham’s Mixed Reality Lab, new twists on the board game incorporating mobile phones and social media, or spaceships controlled by tinfoil hats, a selection of fruit and a microcontroller were all on show – the latter being a particular hit with the group of three-year-olds from the local nursery who joined us before their alfresco picnic.

Day two continued with more fascinating talks from Invisible Flock reflecting on the challenges of developing and implementing the ambitious ‘If You Go Away’ augmented reality experience and Leila Johnston’s guide to storytelling and technology which offered insights and practical tips drawn from Hack Space and other work.

Before the Panel Machine was rebooted for the closing session, acclaimed journalist, author and now Media Molecule Narrative Designer Cara Ellison offered a uniquely personal insight into the promise of videogames as a real and virtual space within which to tell new kinds of stories. Delivering a sneak peak into one of the most anticipated PS4 titles ever, Cara demonstrated ‘Dreams’ to a rapt audience of theatre makers and artists.

And so, just as it began with a discussion of platforms for creating new work and engaging new audiences, this edition of Continue closed with a discussion of videogames and gameplay as a platform for new forms of storytelling. And again, we’re proud to have created Continue as a platform to host and showcase such diverse creative works and inspiring ideas.

Calling all arts organisations and video game creators…

Discover how to reach new audiences in new ways with Continue 2018. Leading practitioners in cross artform projects unite to exchange secrets and perspectives at the bleeding edge of multimedia storytelling and narrative.

Brought to you by The British Games Institute (BGI), Pilot Theatre and York Mediale, this ambitious two-day melting pot of ideas features industry heavy-weight speakers from the cultural and gaming sectors, open discussion and candid sharing, a micro-game jam and exclusive project demos from immersive tech to theatre.

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Continue Edinburgh Report

The final Continue event of the year before the National Conference took place earlier this month in Edinburgh. 

The fantastic setting of the University of Edinburgh Business School welcomed guests from a range of different cultural industries for the day. 

This day was particularly focussed on trying to shape some actions. As BGI culture director Iain Simons commented in his opening remarks, “by the time we get to the end of today, it’d be great to have some new ideas as to what to do tomorrow.”

Chris Speed from the University of Edinburgh’s Futures Institute kicked things off with an insightful and challenging introduction. The new Edinburgh Futures Institute where he’s based is working on some exciting new research – some of which you can read about in their site here: https://efi.ed.ac.uk/edinburgh-futures-institute/

Chris Speed

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Full programme for Continue Edinburgh announced

We are delighted to share the full programme for Continue Edinburgh!

In partnership with Riverside Studios, on 16th August we’ll be taking over the University of Edinburgh Business School for an action-packed day of talk and play, uncovering Scotland’s leading cultural game projects. Bringing together cultural commissioners and video game developers, Continue is about creating new opportunities in the game and culture sectors.

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