Search For A Star Code Finals Day Judges Announced

Code Finals Day is quickly coming up! The competition will be opening it’s doors at 9am at Staffordshire University, where our panel of code judges will be meeting our finalists for the first time.

If you want to join in on the day, you can still book your free tickets here!

Search For A Star Code


Ash Bennett (Sumo Digital) 

Ash started his career in 1989 at Gremlin Graphics writing games for C64, he later progressed onto NES, PC Engine and the Top Gear series of games for the SNES, finally becoming lead programmer on the PS1 version of Loaded before leaving to join Probe Entertainment in 1996.


In 2000, he returned to Gremlin (by then part of Infogrames) to work on the PS2 conversion of Wacky Racers amongst other titles. After the closure of the Infogrames Sheffield studio, he was amongst the first 12 members of Sumo Digital and went on to work on many of their leading products before finally becoming Studio Technical Director in 2008.


Thad Frogley (Boss Alien) 

With over 20 years’ experience across the games industry, we’re happy to happy to welcome back Thad Frogley. Thad has worked at studios including Rockstar, Climax and Jagex, and now Technical Director at Boss Alien. Thad has built an impressive programming portfolio across many leading and critically acclaimed games including X-Com Apocalypse, GTAIII and Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Thad’s wide-ranging technical knowledge and industry experience make him an ideal question setter & judge for the coding competition.


Lizi Attwood (Furious Bee) 

Lizi Attwood has been a core part of Search For A Star from the start. With a strong background across multiple commercial titles, Lizi is a highly valued member of the Search For A Star team. Having worked on console, PC and mobile games, in areas as diverse as gameplay, networking, physics and graphics, Lizi has a wealth of industry knowledge. Question setting, designing the round two code project and judging are just a few of the areas where Lizi gets involved.


Ian Crowther (nDreams) 

Ian has been in the industry for over 30 years, working for studios like Argonaut, Asylum and Kuju Entertainment, and no nDreams. Ian has worked on all sorts of machines in his time, from the Amiga and SNES up to contemporary consoles and PC. With his interests including player/game interaction, object dynamics and FSM based AI, Ian is a fantastic additition to our coding panel.


Jim Allison (Playground Games) 








Sumo Digital Rising Star


Sean Davies (Sumo Digital) 

Sean has a total of 18 years’ worth of experience as a programmer in the games industry and has spent the majority of his time working at Sumo Digital, where he currently holds the title of Technical Director. Sean has worked on titles such as LittleBigPlanet 3. With specialties including real-time rendering techniques, Sean will provide a valuable insight into life as a programmer for a AAA studio for our finalists.


Craig Wright (Sumo Digital) 

Craig has been working making games in Yorkshire for over 15 years now. After completing his degree at The University of York, he quickly gained a role as a Programmer for Argonaut Sheffield, where he worked on titles such as Catwoman. It wasn’t long until Craig found himself at Sumo Digital Sheffield, where he now holds the title of Technical Director after having worked on games such as LittleBigPlanet 3 and DiRT 2.


Jamie Holding (nDreams) 

Senior Programmer Jamie has been in the gaming industry for four years since completing his MEng in Computer Science. In the past, Jamie has consulted for high-street banks on internet security, and created Facebook Chess, one of the first 100 apps approved on the Facebook app list, and has stood as the most popular chess application in the world ever since. We’re excited to welcome Jamie to our panel of coding judges!


Jason Fielder (GaaSworks) 

Now the CEO & Co-Founder of Gaasworks, entrepreneurial Jason is the former CTO of Exient. As a result of his previously held positions, Jason has first-hand experience of conceiving and growing a studio into a business capable of producing hugely successful games. Jason brings his range of knowledge and keen eye for talent to the interview panel in the final stage of the competition.


Benjamin Coquelle (AMD)

Benjamin has been in the industry for 10 years now and has spent eight of those years working as a software engineer at high performance graphics card producers AMD. Benjamin brings a unique viewpoint to programming and we look forward to welcoming him to the competition.


Finn McDonnell  (BossAlien) 

Finn McDonell is the Infrastructure lead at BossAlien, responsible for designing, implementing and maintaining the systems that serve the studios games, as well as the tools that enable their game developers to do their job. Before joining BossAlien, Finn worked in the finance industry, developing software and as an analyst. We’re excited to have Finn as a Sumo Digital Rising Star judge, who’ll provide a fantastic insight into the industry for our young programmers.

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