Aardvark Swift reports back from the Finals Day of this year's competition

Search For A Star 2015: Setting the standard for the next generation of games developers

Sam Parras of Bristol University has won the 2015 Search For A Star Competition.

Graduating this summer with a degree in Computer Science from Bristol University, Sam wowed judges from leading studios with his in-depth knowledge and clear enthusiasm for games development. In recognition of his skills and abilities, Sam has been approached with multiple job opportunities from across the industry.

With the highest overall score in the first round C++ coding test, Sam is setting a great standard for the next generation of the games industry, we’re sure to be seeing more of him in the future.

The winner of the Sumo Digital Rising Star competition is Yan Knoop, our first European winner, currently studying International Game Architecture & Design with NHTV Breda University of Applied Sciences. Yan has won an exclusive intern opportunity with Sheffield’s Sumo Digital, one of the biggest independent studios in the UK and developers of recent blockbuster success, LittleBigPlanet 3.

Yan also excelled in the prior rounds of the competition, and we greatly look forward to seeing more from both Yan and NHTV again in 2016.

In a large jump from previous years, the 2015 Finals Day event was attended by over 70 people from across games and academia, and included conference sessions from speakers in the industry. Covering a diverse range of games development topics, over 30 students received guidance on internships and graduate level employment, insights into games industry development processes, through to specific focus on using the latest tech and tools available.

Another key addition to this year’s finals event was a roundtable discussion between 19 academics and studio representatives. Highly commended by those involved, the discussion created direct dialogue between the games industry and academia on the transition from education to employment and improving the relationship between studios and universities.

This year’s Finals Day event was once again hosted by Microsoft at their UK Campus outside Reading. As sponsor of the finals and a core partner of the Grads In Games initiative, Microsoft help us add to the diverse range of talented, experienced speakers and mentors from their studios at Lionhead, Rare and Lift London.

With active involvement with all Grads In Games activities at almost every stage of the process, the team at Microsoft contribute a wealth of knowledge and resources to help the next generation of games developers make the first steps into the industry.

“Student developers are important for Microsoft and the opportunity to help their transition from education to employment is a rewarding one. At Microsoft, we are embracing developers from all communities and respect their choice of development code,” says Liam Kelly, General Manager, Developer Experience, Microsoft UK.

“With Windows 10, developers have more code choice than ever before, the ability to write code once and then use it across all devices and platforms. Through Microsoft’s involvement in the Grads In Games initiative and the Search For A Star competitions, we can educate and help foster new UK talent in game development and we are very proud to do so.”

From technical provision of Visual Studio Online, support for Windows Phone Store and the Windows devices themselves, as well as the finals day venue, prizes and several speakers and mentors across the campaign, Microsoft’s impact has been invaluable to the running of Grads In Games.

Microsoft’s influence as an international market leader in games and technology has had a hugely positive impact on the structure of the competition. Together we’re able to consistently bring together new ideas and directions to ensure excellent starts for young developers, for both the competitions and Grads In Games as a whole.

Find out more about the Grads In Games initiative and the Search For A Star competitions:

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