Videogame education festival and competition launches

Immediate release

Thursday 19 January 2012

The UK's biggest ever festival for videogame education was announced today (Thursday 19 January) at an industry launch event at Sheffield Hallam University.

The Games Britannia festival was launched by the chairman of UK Interactive Entertainment, Andy Payne OBE.

Speaking at the launch he said: "We're thrilled to be able to announce the launch of Games Britannia hot on the heels of the games industry's recent success in lobbying for a new computer science curriculum to replace ICT in schools.

"It's vital to our future economy that the next generation become creators of technology and software, not just consumers of it. And it is exciting events like Games Britannia that will help to lead the way in redressing this imbalance.

"UKIE is proud to be able to back an event like this and we will ensure we help to rally the games and interactive entertainment industry to support Games Britannia and together we can make it the roaring success it deserves to be."

The videogames education and careers festival will take place from 2 to 8 July at the MAGNA Science Adventure Centre, and will celebrate the strength of the UK industry and inspire the next generation of British videogame talent. The festival includes Games Britannia: REPLAYED, which opens the Games Britannia doors to the public for a weekend of games-based learning and entertainment.

Games Britannia, incorporating Games Britannia: REPLAYED, is organised by a partnership including Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council, Sheffield Hallam University, Brinsworth Comprehensive School Academy Trust, Replay Events and UK Interactive Entertainment, and is backed by industry companies including Sony Computer Entertainment Europe.

Dr Jake Habgood, senior lecturer on Sheffield Hallam's game development courses, said: "We want to engage children with the exciting opportunities that the videogame industry offers. Making games is a fantastic way to challenge and inspire students to study programming, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - as well as art, English and music - by applying them all creatively to a finished product.

"The 2011 Livingstone-Hope report identified a skills shortage as a barrier to growth in the UK videogames industry. It also identified the need to address schools' lack of understanding about the industry.

"The Games Britannia festival will address those issues by providing children with practical hands-on workshops in game development, much of which can be replicated in homes and schools after the event. The festival will also inform young people on career paths in the industry - and it will be a celebration of the rich videogame development heritage that our region has."

In the lead up to the event, teams of school children from across the region will compete to write, illustrate and compose ideas for a new video game based on one of the games industry's most iconic characters - Monty Mole.

Ian Stewart, founder of the Sheffield-based game developer Gremlin Graphics who created the character, said "It's fantastic to see an initiative to rekindle the passion for programming at a young age. Many of my first employees learnt to program videogames on the computers they were first exposed to at school, and those skills helped to build the multi-billion dollar games industry we have today."

As part of the launch event, the University gave students from schools across the region a lesson in PlayStation®3 development - the first time a class of school children have ever been given an introduction to professional game development kits. 

Sheffield Hallam has three Skillset accredited courses in Games Software Development and the largest PlayStation®3 teaching lab in Europe. It also has its own game development studio, giving its students a direct self-publishing route to market, including to the PlayStation®Network (PSN).

Sponsors of the event currently include Sony Computer Entertainment Europe, Sumo-Digital and YoYo Games. The event is supported with workshops by Raspberry Pi and BBC CBBC/CBeebies.

To find out more about the Games Britannia festival visit www.gamesbritannia.com.

Notes for editors:

·         The Games Britannia festival includes a Yorkshire-wide games competition for schools to redesign the classic Gremlin Graphics character Monty Mole - shortlisted games will be made at the Gremlin Game Jam part of the festival. For more information visit www.gamesbritannia.com/montymole

Images show:

GB_0873 (L-R) UKIE’s Andy Payne OBE and Ian Stewart, founder of Sheffield’s Gremlin Graphics, Mark Hardisty of Brinsworth Comprehensive School Academy Trust and Dr Jake Habgood of Sheffield Hallam University

GB_0533 UKIE chairman Andy Payne OBE speaking at the launch event at Sheffield Hallam University

For press information contact: Joe Field on 0114 225 2074 or email pressoffice@shu.ac.uk

Find all our recent releases at http://www.shu.ac.uk/news.  


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