NextGen Skills Academy announces new collaboration with BAFTA Young Game Designers competition

NextGen Skills Academy (NextGen), is formally collaborating with BAFTA’s Young Game Designers (YGD) competition to inspire the UK’s budding game makers. BAFTA YGD programming will be embedded into the NextGen Games, Animation and VFX Skills courses of over 15 Further Education colleges across the country. This major new collaboration marks the first moment BAFTA has directly supported the development of curriculum planning in schools, underscoring its mission to nurture the next generation of creative talent.

Starting this September, BAFTA YGD will deliver a series of industry-led masterclasses and panels to over 650 NextGen students aged 16-18 throughout the academic year. The sessions will focus on raising awareness of accessible career pathways into game design, building focused positive engagement with young creatives, and encouraging involvement in the YGD competition. Students will also be invited to an end of year Graduate Showcase at BAFTA 195 Piccadilly in 2023.

BAFTA YGD is a year-round initiative of public events, workshops and a competition for 10-18 year-olds, culminating in the annual YGD award ceremony and showcase. Over the last decade, BAFTA YGD has provided numerous networking opportunities for budding game-makers to showcase their creativity, nurture confidence and encourage future careers in the games industry, and highlights the positive effects that gaming can have on young people to their communities; including parents, teachers, and peers.

NextGen is driven by industry, and underpinned by education. Since its founding in 2014 by government, the creative industries, and educators, it has developed vocational qualifications and training in partnership with employers. NextGen students are inspired by industry engagement and learn the fundamental technical and artistic skills needed to build games, create animation, and produce VFX. NextGen currently works with 15 Further Education centres in England to bring industry masterclasses, technical challenges, remote work experience, and showcase events to young people studying the NextGen AIM Qualifications Level 3 Extended Diploma in Games, Animation and VFX Skills.

Marcia Deakin, Co-Founder at NextGen Skills Academy, said:
“We are delighted with this announcement as BAFTA YGD and NextGen have shared values of supporting and promoting young talent and increasing diversity within the creative industries. Game design and development led by industry is a key part of the NextGen course. This collaboration is a great opportunity for our students to further hone their skills and get involved in the amazing YGD initiative. We can’t wait to get started!”
Luke Hebblethwaite, Head of Games at BAFTA, said:
“BAFTA are pleased to work with NextGen across the breadth of their activities for young people. At their recent Graduate Showcase, we saw real talent and dedication, and speaking to the students about their work was heartening. For 10- to 18-year-olds, BAFTA YGD is a vital competition, which helps talented participants to discover their passion for coding, drawing, or writing for games.  It makes perfect sense for us to align with an organisation that inspires, supports and celebrates the future talent of our industries, as well as promotes the scale and variety of roles available for career starters in the games industry.”
Chris Jeffrey, NextGen Lecturer at Sunderland College, said:
“BAFTA YGD has been a large part of what I do at Sunderland College since our first students entered in 2016, and I've had the privilege to mentor students year on year through this unique competition. The support from BAFTA throughout the competition, with a wealth of teaching resources and after with top industry professionals, is outstanding. The collaboration between YGD and NextGen is a fantastic opportunity for more students to explore and showcase their creative and technical talents on an industry-wide stage. Taking part in the competition is an amazing experience which inspires the next generation of our industry's finest designers and developers, which is something we should all celebrate!”

BAFTA YGD winners go on to great things

Former YGD winners include Dan Pearce, winner of the first ever YGD competition held by the BAFTA in 2010. Dan received a BAFTA Games Award nomination for his game, Castles in the Sky, in 2014. Emily Mitchell won a prestigious MCV / DEVELOP Award last year for her game Fractured Minds, which she released commercially. Additionally, Spruce Campbell (2017 winner) self-published his game on the App Store.

Winners have also displayed their creations at EGX Rezzed, London's largest games convention, such as 2016 winner Daniel Smith, whose game was picked up by Ripstone Games. HRH Prince William, The Duke of Cambridge, met with YGD Finalist and Mentor Harry Petch at the reopening of 195 Piccadilly earlier this year, to learn more about the barriers to progression and the importance of interventions that provide access to the screen industries, and played a game created.

BAFTA’s Young Game Designers Competition 2023 will open for entries in Autumn 2022. There are awards for the best Game Concept and Game Making entries, with two awards within each category - one for 10-to-14 year olds, and one for 15-to-18 year olds. Interested parties can register for updates and find resources for young people, parents, and teachers on the YGD website.

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