Sir Keir Starmer, MP and Leader of the Labour Party, and Alison McGovern, MP and Shadow Minister for Employment, recently visited The Prince’s Trust South London Centre to meet young people taking part in The Prince’s Trust and NextGen’s Get Started in Games Design course.
The visit showcased the life changing success of The Prince’s Trust Get Started programme of short courses. Delivered by NextGen and supported by industry including Sony Interactive Entertainment, Get Started in Games Design involves young people aged between 18 – 25 who are not currently in employment, education or training, exploring how the structure of games work. Alongside employability support and confidence building, participants learn the principles of game design, finding the fun, the importance of playtesting and working to a brief from industry, before the challenge to work in teams to create and pitch their own games.
The visit by Keir and Alison came at the start of the five-day course, as the young people were readying themselves to start the hard business of designing an original game from scratch!
Charlie Blay, 23, said of his experience on the course (Pictured front row, third from left):
“I came into the course with little to no expectation of what the week would be like. Before this I’ve been unemployed for five years, I had kidney cancer when I was young and was placed on the liver transplant waiting list in 2017 as a preventative measure, with me finally getting a transplant in 2019. Just as I was coming out of my recovery Covid struck and I had to shield because I'm immunosuppressed, which was really hard on me and devastating to my mental health.
“So, making that first step back into training was really tough, but I couldn't have asked for a better first experience. Gaming is a big hobby of mine and, for me, making the first step seemed impossible, but doing this course and understanding a hobby better seemed like a good place to start. The team have been so helpful and so nice, I couldn't have asked for a safer or more comfortable environment to come back into. To be able to see behind the curtain a little bit, to feel like I'm able to access that creative outlet and to be part of the creative process, I do feel significantly more prepared to go to work.
“This course has been a lifesaver, I cannot put into words how important this has been for me. I mean, even up until last week waking up has been difficult. A lot of people with depression or depressive episodes, or any kind of mental health issue, struggle with getting up and finding energy. Now I feel like a switch has been flicked within me. On Sunday night I went to bed early which I haven't done in 10 years. On Monday morning I woke up with my alarm, on Tuesday morning I woke up before my alarm, just ready to go. It's just been such a change in myself and how I feel, how I look to the future, and how I can now see opportunities ahead of me.”
Marica Deakin, Co-Founder of NextGen Skills Academy and Get Started program Lead, said:
“NextGen has been working with The Prince’s Trust, and with the support of Sony Interactive Entertainment, to deliver introductory courses to game design for over seven years now. We have seen the positive impact and success they have with participants as they discover new skills, build confidence, express their creativity, and learn of routes into an industry that many thought was closed to them.
“The games industry is one of the friendliest, most welcoming and engaged sectors with a lot of good people dedicated to educating and nurturing the next generation of talent. Just reading Charlie’s story you can see the difference training offers like this can make, and why they need to be supported. The talent of the young people we met on this course is truly humbling, they are the experts in our industry with the ideas that will be shaping the future.”
Gina Jackson OBE, Director of Game Dev Bootcamps, said:
“I was part of the delivery team for the Get Started in Games Design Course run by NextGen with Daniel Dubier of The Prince’s Trust, and Nigel Twumasi of MayaMedia.
“We don't always have an equal start in life and some people have more barriers put in their way than others. These young people showed us that if you give people a chance and an environment where they can thrive, they will shine. They delivered some of the most fun tabletop games I have played, gave confident and informative presentations, demonstrated how they could learn from gameplay testing, and giving and taking feedback. Are you looking for a new star in your games company? If so, take a chance on someone who has come through The Prince's Trust course.”
To find out more about The Prince’s Trust Get Started programme of short courses visit: Get Started with The Prince's Trust