Your chance to win a BAFTA competition!
How to win a young games designer BAFTA!
This post sets out the story of how a design & technology teacher discovered that she could combine her subject knowledge with game design & encourage her students to take it to the next level.
Games design, team working and creativity in six months
As a new teacher at the school I was looking for a new topic that could be run as an after-school club or during our school’s designated time. About the same time, I received a notification about a workshop BAFTA was running with Falmouth University to help teachers to find out about teaching gaming. I attended and was relieved to find out that game design wasn’t simply about coding. In fact, I could apply a lot of my design and technology expertise.
The workshop introduced me to BAFTA’s Young Game Designers competition, which is open to 10-18 year olds. It aims to inspire the UK’s game creators of the future by giving young people the chance to design and make their own game (entries are open at http://ygd.bafta.org/ and deadline is Wednesday 25 April).
Inspired by what I’d learnt I decided to set up a games club and use the Young Game Designers competition as a focus. There were lots of teacher resources to help structure each session and I felt students would be more motivated knowing their games would be reviewed by an external panel of judges.
Despite it being the second half of the autumn term and rather late to set up a club, I was very pleased to have 10 students arrive for the first session. Ranging across the year groups, they had varying levels of technical skill but shared an enthusiasm for gaming.
We started by using creative thinking tools like the card game that is a resource on the BAFTA Young Game Designers page (http://ygd.bafta.org/resources/lesson-three-game-ideas). I was surprised at the range of ideas they came up with for games. I’d expected them to all be shooter type ideas but they included games that were incorporating decision making and real life situations.
As the projects developed I’ve also been impressed with how they have worked together in mixed age-range groups. This could have been a disaster but everyone has had a voice. And the common goal of the competition has helped to develop their team working and collaboration skills.
A concern I had had was my own technical expertise but this hasn’t been an issue. Members of the club with strong technical skills have helped others (including me). This is something to bear in mind if you want to set up a similar club but are not sure you have the technical expertise – your students are likely to be able to help! I suspect this would be the case in many schools, so if you want to set up a games club and are worried about your technical knowledge don’t worry!
My role has been to help students to refine their ideas, stay focused and keep them motivated when they encountered challenges. I’ve built links with Falmouth University and we’ve visited and met students and lecturers in the games design department. This has widened the horizons of students and made them consider working in the games industry – not something that would have been on their radar prior to joining the club.
In the games industry creativity and working in multidisciplinary teams are really important factors in succeeding in the sector. I think our students have demonstrated they have significant ability in both areas. We don’t know how their entries to BAFTA Young Game Designers will fare, but I do know that if they choose to pursue careers in the games industry they have the basic skills they require.
Do encourage your students to enter!
Jasmine Gaiety, Design and Technology Teacher at Brannel School, St Stephen, Cornwall