Environment, gender fluidity, disability, bereavement, and the Covid-19 pandemic are just some of the ideas which have been shortlisted for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta) Young Game Designers competition.
More than 50 game designers, some as young as 10-years-old, were named as finalists in the annual UK-wide competition, selected by a panel of gaming industry professionals.
This year’s winners will be revealed at a special virtual BAFTA YGD ceremony on Thursday at 5 pm.
The ceremony will be hosted by presenter and journalist, Elle Osili-Wood, one of the most recognisable faces in games who also hosted the BAFTA Games Awards earlier this year.
Across five months, young people have been working individually and collectively to unlock their imaginations by developing innovative game concepts and designs.
After thoughtful and extensive deliberation from virtual juries chaired by Dr Jo Twist OBE, Jodie Azhar, Claire Boissiere, and Des Gayle, finalist entries were selected for their creativity and vision.
Habiballah Butt, 14, from Slough is one of the youngsters hoping to claim the top prize in the 10-14 years category with his game concept called ‘Rewind’.
Rewind an innovative game to help people better understand what grief feels like and the stages of how it works.
“To keep things short, I think I’ll sum up my game with a quote from J.K Rowling: ‘Understanding is the first step to acceptance, and only with acceptance can there be recovery,” he said.
Another budding gamer designer pitching his idea to the judges included Finley Holmes, 11, from Christchurch, Dorset whose game, Seas of Salvation, focused on the problem of plastic pollution.
In Seas of Salvation, the player has to remove as much plastic from the sea as possible to help save the planet and rescue marine life along the way.
The player starts as a diver with scuba diving gear and a knife to cut animals out of plastic waste. When players have collected enough plastic they can recycle it and upgrade to better equipment and boats to collect more.
Along the way, players will save sea life, collect sea bucks to spend in the item store, and learn how their actions are saving the planet.
“I am thrilled to be a BAFTA Young Game Designers finalist. My game idea was inspired by living near the sea and caring about reducing plastic waste in the ocean. I would love to inspire a new generation of young people to care about the oceans whilst playing an entertaining, fun game. I really hope I win!”
In the 15-18 years game making category Sara Szasz, 18, from Barnet is hoping their game ‘Thoughtless’ will also be a winner.
In ‘Thoughtless’, you encounter the staff of a manor and help them with their troubles to progress to new rooms and come closer to solving the mystery of what’s really happening.
As you progress you uncover the truth of the manor, that it’s not real, well- more accurately, it’s a dream, a haven someone created to escape from life.
Each of the staff members represents a part of their personality somehow, and it’s up to the player to get to the final room and try to convince the dreamer to free them all by waking up.
“I was inspired by a game known as ‘smile for me’. It instantly captured me with its cartoony 2D graphics and 3D environments.
“It was a big inspiration for the art direction I went in. I also really liked the unsettling undertones it had with the story that was contrasted by the colourful exterior, an atmosphere I aimed towards in my own game”, they said.
Chair of the BAFTA Games Committee and CEO of UKIE, Dr Jo Twist OBE said she was blown away by the talent in this year’s competition.
“In a year when young people’s education was severely disrupted, it is fantastic to see so many wonderful ideas entered.
“Games have played such an important role in connecting, supporting, and entertaining people over the last year and it has been fascinating to see how much the wider industry has positively influenced the entrants, with a number of them citing their contemporary titles.
“We were so impressed by the originality demonstrated across the board and extend our congratulations to this year’s finalists.”
The BAFTA YGD Ceremony will be streamed on BAFTA’s YouTube, with highlights and clips from the show available to watch on Twitter, using the hashtag #YGD2021.