21st May 2013. Leamington Spa. The team behind Backspace, a new festival celebrating the culture and innovation of over three decades of videogame creation in Midlands town Leamington Spa, are today celebrating a hugely successful launch and opening weekend.
The Backspace Festival (now running until Sunday 2nd June) aims to highlight the past, present and future of games development in the town, and at the heart of the fortnight's festivities is an exhibition charting the story of Leamington's rise to power in the global games development scene. In keeping with the theme of recognising all eras, the exhibition was formally opened at a VIP event on Thursday16th May by David Darling (original founder of Codemasters and CEO of Kwalee), Chris Southall (Studio Head of SEGA Hardlight - the most recent studio to move into the town) and Lucy Johnson (student from Warwickshire College's Games Art HND Course).
Chris Southall of SEGA Hardlight commented: "This April, we relocated to Leamington Spa, a great location with a wealth of development talent. The Backspace Festival is a great demonstration of the rich heritage of video games in the area, and we're really happy to be involved in making it happen."
Following its opening to the public on Saturday 18th May, the Exhibition welcomed nearly 1700 visitors through its door in the first two days and has generated a hugely positive response from games developers and the local community alike. More than 50 families took part in a sold-out day of Raspberry Pi programming workshops hosted by IndieCity on Sunday 19th, and tickets for an evening with the town's development founding fathers (Philip Oliver and David Darling) are also already sold out.
Backspace Event Director Natalie Griffith, owner of newly-founded Press Space PR, added: "We've been overwhelmed by the positivity and support that we've received from the local development community during our journey to stage Backspace, and are delighted to be shining a light on their creativity and innovation. The town should be incredibly proud of what the industry here continues to achieve and we hope this will be the Festival's legacy."
Many of the visitors to the exhibition are also completing the 'Leamington Spa-Cade' games trail which features six custom-built arcade cabinets placed across the town. Local developers Blitz Games Studios, Codemasters, FreeStyleGames, Monster & Monster, Projector Games and Sega Hardlight have all generously provided games for the Spa-Cade showcase and it's already proving a popular attraction.
The Festival has also adopted two official charities - gaming accessibility charity SpecialEffect and Leamington-basd Myton Hospice. A number of events during the fortnight will be raising money for the two organisations, and SpecialEffect also held a 'gaming-for-all' showcase at the Exhibition on Monday 20th.
Events still to come include: Careers Evening at Warwickshire College (Wednesday 22nd May), Blip Club Night by Kwalee/Monster & Monster (Thursday 23rd May), Games Character Costume Parade (Saturday 25th May), An Evening with the Spa's Founding Fathers hosted by Develop Magazine's Will Freeman (Wednesday 29th May, sold out), DJ Night by FreeStyle Games (Thursday 30th May).
More details of the Backspace programme are available via the Leamington Looks Back website ( http://www.leamingtonlooksback.co.uk/?event=backspace), and the Backspace Twitter, Facebook and Instagram social media feeds.
Natalie Griffith, Press Space PR, natalie@PressSpace.net, 07914 840004.
The Backspace exhibition (held as part of the 'Leamington Looks Back' heritage festival) is open daily from 11am-8pm until Sunday 2nd June, and was conceived, designed and curated by Natalie Griffith of Press Space PR, Craig Spivey of Vital, and Michael Pigott, Professor of Video Art & Digital Media at Warwick University. In addition, it is supported by a wealth of local bodies including Heritage Matters, Warwick County Council’s Operation Footfall, Warwick District Council, the Leamington Town Partnership and the Regent Court Management Team, who have made an exhibition space available for the duration of the project.
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Caption for 'Backspace Launch event VIPs' photo:
Backspace launch event VIPs (from left): Creative Director Craig Spivey of Vital, David Darling (CEO of Kwalee), Lucy Johnson (Warwickshire College games art student), Chris Southall (Studio Head of SEGA Hardlight), and Event Director Natalie Griffith of Press Space PR.