Aardvark Swift celebrates higher uptake for its student initiative as round one of the competition begins

Record numbers for 2015 Search For A Star competition

A record-breaking 350 students from 63 universities have entered this year’s programming and game development competitions – split almost evenly between Search For A Star for final year and masters students, and the Sumo Digital Rising Star for first and second year students.

Each competition is backed by some of the biggest UK games developers and gives students the opportunity to apply their knowledge and abilities to three challenges based on real UK studio hiring processes. The overall winners being awarded prize bundles including job and internship opportunities at a range of top UK studios.

With the largest entry figures since Search For A Star began in 2011, this year’s competition also shows an increase in the number of international students, with entrants from nine universities worldwide, including Denmark, Belgium, Spain and as far afield as Brazil.

The Round One C++ coding test for 2015 is possibly the toughest we’ve ever put together and has even been challenging our veteran team of testers. Developed by industry veteran Lizi Attwood and programming teams from Exient and Boss Alien, the 90-minute test is designed to emulate some of the toughest assessments issued by studios as part of their hiring process.

With a year-on-year increase in the number of applicants and the positive feedback from both the industry and academia, it’s clear that students and universities are seeing the value of taking part. Significant interest has also been shown towards the growth of the second round game development and publishing project. Backed by Unity and Microsoft – and using their industry-standard tech – students are given two weeks to create and publish a small game that can be presented as part of their portfolio.

Award-winning Brighton studio Boss Alien has been working closely with the competition for the past three years. CEO Jason Avent says Search For A Star is "a brilliant showcase for new talent", with Boss Alien regularly offering both internships and jobs to the competition winners and finalists.

Talented youngsters hired by Boss Alien get to experience a supportive environment self-described as “lively and fun”, with the studio strongly believing that you have to enjoy coming to work every day in order to make great games.

“We do believe that we’ve created one of the best working environments in the UK,” says Avent. “We have NaturalMotion’s backing for brand, connections and security and really do our best to keep our people happy.”

Heading up their Search For A Star team is Boss Alien co-founder and lead programmer Richard Bangs. Richard and his team are a core part in judging the second round and final interview, as well as providing mentoring for the finalists. 

Boss Alien are currently working on a highly secretive new game that will continue to show their focus on high quality and innovation, as well as continuing to develop CSR Racing and CSR Classics for the millions of people who enjoy it every day.

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