Games Education Summit returns in 2020

Sheffield, 12/12/2019: Ground-breaking conference bridging the gap between games educators and the games industry returns in April with an inspiring line-up to explore much-needed solutions to deep-rooted problems.

Influential games course leaders from further and higher education, leaders from prominent studios, recruiters and 3rd sector organisations and students will continue last year’s animated debate about how the games industry and games educators could collaborate. 

The Games Education Summit 20 is produced by the BGI, with a platinum sponsorship from Unity Technologies, and will be held at Sheffield Hallam University and the iconic National Videogame Museum in Sheffield from Thursday 16th to Friday 17th April 2020.

Innovative educators, studios and 3rd sector organisations will share how they are tackling deep-rooted challenges with employability, diversity, skills, apprenticeships and work placements within the industry. This year’s theme focuses on developing practical and actionable solutions to many of those challenges, and will showcase inspirational examples and innovative programmes from across the UK.

Keynotes will be delivered by Aurore Dimopoulos, Head of Learn Content Production at Unity Technologies Emma Smith from Creative Assembly, Mike Gamble from Epic Games and Dr Paul Parry from Sheffield Hallam University. 

Workshops moderated by Dr Chris Lowthorpe from InGAME will allow delegates to share their ideas to solve endemic problems facing these two sectors. The Summit will also spotlight students themselves, hearing from current and past students about how they bridged the gap between study and work.

Unity is the Platinum Sponsor of the Summit, which is also sponsored by Sheffield Hallam University, Unreal Engine, Aardvark Swift, Staffordshire University and AIM Awards. The Summit’s media partner is Gamesindustry.biz.

Tickets can be purchased here, and more information on the summit can be found here.

The Summit will feature talks and panels by over 30 speakers from InGAME, Staffordshire University, Aardvark Swift, Portsmouth University, Sumo Digital, Bournemouth University, Digital Schoolhouse, GameDragons, Birmingham City University, Ukie, the BGI, Leeds Trinity College, AIM, Rockstar, Rare, Priestley College, TT Games, NextGen Skills Academy, London College of Communications, Women in Games, Playground Games, TIGA and Falmouth University.

Rick Gibson, CEO of the BGI, said: “Last year, the Summit brought together studios and educators for the first time to discuss some challenging subjects like diversity, internships, lack of industry engagement with education and quality of graduates in some cracking debates. This year, we’re focusing on solutions to those challenges. We’ll feature more interactive workshops and debates and will showcase innovative collaborations between studios and institutions”.

“With Unity’s roots in the gaming industry, it’s important for us to have a strong presence at events that bridge the gap between the gaming industry and education,” said Aurore Dimopoulos, Head of Learn Content Production at Unity Technologies. “Being the technology partner in the conversations between these two sectors is critical, given Unity’s ability to equip learners with the development tools necessary to advance their careers.” 

Dr Paul Parry, Subject Group Leader, Games and AI, Department of Computing, Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Sheffield Hallam University is delighted to sponsor and host GamesEd 2020. 2020’s summit themes of industry engagement and connectivity, equipping students with the right skills and promoting inclusivity are very much at the forefront of our thinking at Sheffield Hallam. GamesEd provides an exciting opportunity for educators and industry to join, share and discuss these and other critical and challenging issues.”

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BGI welcomes new trustees

The BGI is delighted to announce that we have appointed 4 new trustees, Helen Kennedy, Catriona Mary Wilson, Ben Pearce and Andy Payne, to assist with the governance and running of the charity. We are confident that these new fantastic personnel will continue to guide the BGI in achieving its mission of educating the public on the science, art, history and technology of videogames.

Please find profiles below with more information on our new trustees. You can also view profiles of the rest of our trustee board here.

Helen Kennedy

Profile picture of Helen KennedyHelen is Professor of Creative and Cultural Industries at Nottingham University. Helen’s career has been characterised by her passion for the integration of research, innovative curriculum development with collaborative and creative partnerships. She has an international reputation for her research and advocacy work in Game Studies and for her leadership in the development of the field.

Helen was co-organiser of the first UK International conference on games – Game Cultures – in 2001, and spent the following eight years inaugurating and developing the Play Research Group and the Digital Cultures Research Centre as key international nodes in the field of Game Studies. During this period she published widely and collaboratively with other members of this network and in the process established a distinctly British Game Studies approach to the examination of computer games, everyday technologies of play and the wider ludification of culture. Her current research interests are feminist interventions into games culture, experience design and cultural evaluation. She is a Principal Investigator on an international equity project aimed at the transformation of games culture and the games industry. Recently she has been awarded further significant UK Research Council funding to investigate new technologies and new creative practices in immersive experience design.

Catriona Mary Wilson

Profile picture of Mary Catriona WilsonCatriona Wilson has worked in the UK heritage sector for nearly 20 years in independent, local authority and university museums. She is currently Head of the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology at UCL, having previously been Collections Manager and joint Heritage Manager at Guildford Heritage Service where she developed a keen interest in the preservation of Videogame heritage. Before that, Catriona established a new museum of medical history at the University of Worcester – The Infirmary. She has fundraised around £2m in project funding to date, which has created numerous permanent and project-based jobs and traineeships.

Catriona advocates for fairer and more ethical heritage jobs with the grassroots campaign Fair Museum Jobs, and is a committee member for the Society for Museum Archaeology. She has been mentor to numerous members of staff and volunteers, is a UCL Wellbeing Champion, and a Clore leader.

Ben Pearce

Profile picture of Ben PearceBen works with the charity’s Board of Trustees to lead on vision and strategy, developing new national partnerships, funding opportunities and initiatives to ensure ‘PiH’ continues to inspire better health and wellbeing through the visual arts. Ben was previously Project Director at the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), developing and leading the Lottery-funded Reveal, Celebrate, Explore programme, and overseeing the first stage of the redevelopment of Burlington Gardens into a new centre for artistic learning. Prior to this, Ben led a London 2012 Olympic host-borough project (High Street 2012) in the East End, which included a historic building conservation scheme, and a heritage, culture and community grants programme. Ben is also a Trustee of GEM (the voice of heritage learning); a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, and Vice Chair of the Better Bankside Corporate Responsibility Group, which helps businesses across this part of London support local community, charity and cultural initiatives.

Andy Payne

Profile picture of Andy PayneAndy is an experienced video games entrepreneur of 33 years and has worked with many of the world’s top studios & publishers, running Mastertronic from 1988 – 2015. He chaired trade body Ukie from 2005-2015 and is still a board member. He is a board advisor at games developer Bossa Studios and a founder of games industry charity, GamesAid, where he is now a Patron, as well as working closely with BAFTA to develop their presence in games. Andy founded mobile & tablet specialist AppyNation and Gambitious, now renamed Good Shepherd, which is the world’s first equity based crowdfunding platform for games and movies. Andy was founder of simulation specialists Just Flight and a VP of games charity, Special Effect. Andy also sits on the Creative Industries Council, which reports directly to DCMS and BEIS, as well as being a founder of the UK Crowdfunding Association. Andy is chair of The British Esports Association and a board adviser to the world’s biggest esports company, ESL.

UKie backs BGI and NVM, calls for industry support

We are delighted to see Ukie’s announcement this morning that its board voted unanimously to support our charity and called for industry to help fund our programmes in games culture.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO of Ukie, said: “Games have a cultural significance and the NVM has a role to play in preserving and presenting this to the public. Supporting it shows our long term commitment to celebrating our industry culture and we hope it goes from strength to strength”

Stuart Dinsey, Chair of the Ukie Board, said: “We encourage companies and individuals to visit Sheffield and support our industry’s heritage as patrons or sponsors. While we continue to fight for public funding for games culture through our Next Level manifesto, the sector can make a valuable contribution to preserving heritage in the coming years”

Claire Boissiere, Vice Chair of the BGI Trustees: “I’m super excited about the possibilities this deeper collaboration between Ukie and BGI opens up and I’m looking forward to working together on future initiatives.”

The NVM celebrates its first anniversary in Sheffield, by looking back at Year 1 achievements

This Friday we celebrated the first birthday of the National Videogame Museum in Sheffield. It was a fantastic event, in which we packed out the museum to celebrate our achievements and look forward to the future.

We were particularly pleased to welcome Chris Kinglsey OBE and Jason Kingsley OBE to the event, where we announced our partnership with Rebellion to launch the UK Collection – a long term collection initiative that will preserve and exhibit UK gaming history. This was particularly exciting, as Chris and Jason also announced their acquisition of the Bitmap Brothers, which will also take a large place in the UK collection.

Please find a slideshow below that outlines just some of the things we’ve been up to over the past 12 months, and also some of the things we have planned for the future.

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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:

Record number of visitors at National Video Game Museum

09 August 2019

The National Videogame Museum (NVM) in Sheffield has proudly posted record visitor numbers over the past two weeks, as it launched its family-friendly summer programme, Summer of Buttons.

Since opening for the Summer holidays on 24th July, the NVM has welcomed nearly 2,500 visitors to play and learn about videogame history. This has been an unprecedented success, as visitors from across Yorkshire and the UK have converged in Sheffield to celebrate videogame culture.

Since launching in November 2018, the museum has welcomed over 25,000 visitors, and attracted national attention as the UK’s home of videogame culture. This is the museum’s first family-friendly summer season, and has currently exceeded expectations in terms of visitor numbers and positive feedback.

The Summer programme has been a hit so far, with guests enjoying new exhibits such as 4-Player Pac-Man, which is a bespoke version of the arcade classic made to be played by a team, and the Button Bash Bundle, which has seen guests vying to set the fastest time in various athletic-based videogames. The NVM has also successfully launched an exhibit dedicated to showcasing how videogames are becoming accessible for those with physical disabilities, that has been created in conjunction with the world-leading charity Special Effect.

Alongside the well-received exhibits listed above, guests have also been able to Build-a-Button in guided workshops where they have made their own gaming input from scratch, and then used that in dedicated games set up to play.

Conor Clarke, Marketing and Communications Manager for the NVM, said:
“There has been a bit of negative discussion relating to videogames recently, which has only reaffirmed our mission to create an accessible and inclusive space for those who love videogames. That we’re currently busier than we’ve ever been demonstrates that the public is eager to learn about videogame culture, and discover the educational and cultural value of games.”

For more information, visit www.thenvm.org.

BGI looks for new trustees

The BGI is looking for up to 4 candidates to join the Trustee Board and govern the new charity. Applicants have until 0900 Monday 22nd July to apply.

Diverse applicants from across the worlds of games, charities, museums and arts and finance are being sought to help deliver the charity’s goals to celebrate, research and educate the public about:

  • the ART and cultural impact of games on individuals and our wider society.
  • the underlying SCIENCE of games development and the multitude of uniquely transferable skills that are used in sustainable game production.
  • the HISTORY of games, how they reflect societal norms of the time and how they could shape a more diverse and inclusive future.
  • the application of existing and emerging TECHNOLOGY within games development, its growing impact on multiple sectors and its use in creating sustainable studios.

If you are interested in applying, you can do so by filling in this short form and receive a pack which includes all the info you’ll need to apply.

Games Education Summit 2019 survey findings

The Games Education Summit hosted over 100 educators, games studios and 3rd sector organisations in a unique series of talks that convened leaders in games and education to talk about the state of games education. In parallel to the Summit, the BGI ran a survey to get the latest data on games education. Here are the results.

From Further to Higher Education
Educators from 39 FE and HE institutions reported that they ran a total of 125 courses, yielding an average of 3.2 / institution. 70% of the institutions ran courses at HE level only, while 15% ran courses in both HE and FE, and 15% in FE alone. 54% expected the number of courses to stay the same in 2020, while 41% anticipated more courses will launch and 5% expected fewer courses.

Respondents reported 268 lecturers on their courses, an average of 7 per institution. 59% expected the number of lecturers to stay the same in 2020, while 33% anticipated more lecturers and 8% expected fewer lecturers.

Nearly 7,000 students at just 39 institutions
These institutions reported a total of 6,695 students currently studying on their courses, an average of 172 / course. We note that 8 organisations had 300 or more students, which skews the average significantly higher. Educators were asked to project their total students in 2019 and results suggest that their student body will be slightly smaller in 2019 in comparison to 2018.

Student body diversity
An average of 14% of responding institutions’ 2018 student intake was female, and 64% of educators thought that this would stay the same next year, while 31% expected the number of females to increase and 5% the number to decline.

An average of 17% of responding institutions’ 2018 student intake was black, Asian and minority ethnic, but we note that 24% did not know or record this data.

Challenges

Educators’ biggest challenges were, in order of priority, time / workload, lack of studio placements for students, institutional pressures, lack of industry engagement, poor quality of intake and lack of diversity in intake.

66% of educators reported they are mostly confident that they are teaching what industry wants. 24% are confident and 10% are unsure.

Graduate destinations
An average of 35% of educator respondents’ graduates found jobs in established games companies while an average of 6% of graduates established games start-ups. 39% of graduates found jobs in similar industries.

Industry collaboration with educators
Educators reported 256 visiting speakers from industry last year, an average of 7 per institution. 79% of educators would like more speakers from industry, 18% wanted the same and 3% wanted fewer speakers.

When asked how educators could assist games studios, the most popular responses from all respondents were to work more closely with industry (67%), deliver better qualified graduates (50%), contribute to games in production (31%), collaborate on coursework (22%) and work on prototypes (22%).

When asked how studios could assist FE/HE institutions, the most popular responses were to give advice on course content (50%), provide more placements (28%), give lectures (25%), critique work from summer shows (17%) and invite students to visit studios (11%).

Games Education Summit
When asked what they wanted the Games Education Summit to achieve, 61% wanted to network and bridge the gap between educators and studios, 28% wanted FE/HE to gain a better understanding of what skills industry requires from graduates, 25% wanted industry to support and understand FE/HE institutions more and 14% wanted the sharing of best practice.

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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