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Aylesbury girls up for BAFTA award

AHS students BAFTA award

Published by Dan Gooding at 5:41am 23rd May 2019.

Two girls from Aylesbury are up for a BAFTA for games design.

12-year-old Shaiyana Suresh and 13-year-old Hannah Bush are finalists in the Young Game Designers Competition.

Shaiyana told us about the game:

"The game is inside a computer system and the player has to play different levels - quizzes and puzzles.

"As they go through the game, the resolution improves and by the time they finish all the levels, the resolution is very clear."

Dealing with 'social issues'

The Aylesbury High School girls beat off competition to each become one of the 53 finalists who have worked individually or in teams to submit one of the 40 entries.

Young people aged 10-18 years submitted game designs and concepts addressing a wide range of issues including mental health, climate change, conservation, disability, bereavement, and transgender rights.

A number of these entries strived to educate players of all ages on the social issues they address, hoping to prompt real change in people's lives. Entries also included adventures, imaginary kingdoms, quests, and puzzles demonstrating impressive planning, creativity and ingenuity.

Shaiyana and Hannah's game concept which is called 'Pixel Trek' challenges players to enter the world of a computer to solve puzzles building up a powerful hard drive. It teaches that that bigger goals can be achieved from smaller efforts.

Shaiyana, who is delighted to have been selected, said:

"I am extremely thrilled to have made the finals of BAFTA's YGD Competition!

"I am very grateful towards our Computing teacher for telling us about this wonderful competition, and I can't wait to see all the other brilliant games!"

Hannah added:

"It's very clichéd but we were absolutely speechless! We never thought we would be able to get this far in the competition.

"It was a really interesting process creating our concept."

This year the 40 entries from the 53 finalists have an overwhelming social purpose to them.

Dr. Jo Twist OBE, Chair of Games Committee at BAFTA, said:

"Games are a fantastic art form for creators to express themselves, and I am delighted to see young people tackling important topics through their design and concept entries this year.

"Their creativity and ambition for social change through the medium of games is inspiring. A very well deserved congratulations and good luck to all the 2019 finalists!"

Finalists will be competing for the Game Concept Award, which recognises a paper-based written game idea, and the Game Making Award for those who have developed their coding skills and submitted a prototype game made using freely available software.

The finalists worked on their entries in a variety of ways, including individually, within a team at school, through coding clubs, or at home with friends and family.

The competition

The annual BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition, which began in 2010, aims to demonstrate the creativity that goes in to game design and give young people, and their teachers, an understanding of the rewarding careers available within the industry.

Prithvi Kohli and Sophia Shepherd, 2018 YGD winners, will sit alongside a panel of industry experts who will judge the finalist's entries and choose four winners across the categories. Panellists include presenters Aoife Wilson, Alysia Judge and Elle Osilli-Wood, Jane Douglas, YouTuber Dean Dobbs, Rockstar animator Jim Jagger, and indie game-developer and Des Gayle.

Prithvi Kohli, 2018 YGD Game Making winner, said:

"This year's finalist games are super impressive as always, both in terms of their creativity and execution.

"My year with BAFTA YGD has been inspiring and confidence-boosting; from attending BAFTA events, to studio tours and meeting industry professionals, I have gained so much insight and advice for getting into the games industry - I've never been more excited about making games!"

Sophia Shepherd, 2018 YGD Game Concept winner, said:

"All of the finalists' games this year are of such incredible talent. It has been so great to see young people tackling themes such as environmental issues and representation of LGBTQ+ communities.

"I've loved my year with BAFTA YGD; meeting incredible people from the games industry and going to events has been an exciting experience I've thoroughly enjoyed. All the finalists have so much potential and I'm very excited to see what they all do next."

Previous winners have gone on to have successful careers within the industry. Dan Pearce was part of BAFTA's flagship new talent scheme 'Breakthrough Brits', before becoming BAFTA nominated for his work.

Dan Smith released his game The Spectrum Retreat with Ripstone Games Publishers last year. The game went on to be nominated at the Writers' Guild of Great Britain Awards.

The winners of both strands, in 10-14 and 15-18 age ranges, will receive a host of prizes, including: games, hardware, software licenses, tours of games studios and a mentor from the games industry to help them develop their skills further.

Also presented on the night is the YGD Mentor Award, awarded to an individual involved in the education of young game designers.

This year, there are three mentor finalists in the running who all work with young people in schools, clubs and youth initiatives across the UK.

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