At 9 am on the 22nd of April, students who had taken place in Search for a Star flocked to Sheffield Hallam University for our Finals Day Event! This served as a celebration of all the amazing work submitted to the gamedev competition but also allowed the lucky finalists to have interviews with industry professionals at the event. That’s not all, however, the day itself was full of talks, a mini careers expo and lots of networking.
Kicking off the day was a huge introduction in the lecture theatre with Grads in Games Founder Ian Goodall alongside Dan Dudley, Harry Stainer & Alex Gate, speaking about the importance of Grads in Games, Search For A Star & breaking down those barriers between the games industry & education. In this introduction, we gave a huge round of applause to our finalists, judges & everyone that came together for the day’s events.
Following our Grads in Games team’s introduction, the first round of interviews took place with our judges reviewing the work and portfolios of the finalists, eventually coming to a decision on who would be the winner. Each discipline in Search For A Star had 4 to 5 finalists and throughout the day our judges were talking to each of these individually across multiple rooms in the building.
Meanwhile, in the main lecture hall, Patty Toledo from Yahaha spoke about her journey into the game industry and what lead her to become Director of Creator Relations at Yahaha. Patty also introduced Yahaha as a platform and how it provides a unique creative opportunity for those who sign up. Not only this but Patty went on to elaborate that the platform allows for endless opportunities even for those with no previous skill in coding or game design. It’s amazing to see an inclusive platform that is allowing people from all different backgrounds and skill levels to be given the tools to create whatever they desire.
The atrium in the university’s Cantor Building hosted a mini careers expo, with studio stands from our partners at Sumo Digital, Aardvark Swift, d3t & 10:10 Games plus members of other studios such as XR Games, Airship, Cloud Imperium & DS Dambuster Studios also attending! Students used this as an opportunity to network and talk about their individual projects with industry professionals. For the studios, it was a fantastic way to meet the next generation of games industry talent and meet students that could potentially be applying for jobs.
Arthur Parsons from 10:10 Games spoke positively about the networking and stated “The reason we’re here is that we want to give back, help & most of all talk to these great students”.
As a member of the team, it was great to see how much the studios and students were engaging with one another and I’m optimistic that these conversations will last beyond finals day and hopefully lead to careers!
The second talk of the day was from Phil Owen of d3t. As an industry veteran, Phil spoke about life at d3t and how it’s a joy to work on so many unique games such as the recently released Alan Wake Remastered & Guardians of the Galaxy. Phil also passed on a lot of knowledge to the students in attendance about how to actually secure a job in the games industry and had some honest advice about why employers look for when recruiting! It was great to see the various work at d3t and it’s easy to see why so many students look to them given the pedigree and amount of projects they work on.
We also had Erika Lochs from Airship give a talk on her journey into the industry and all of the amazing work she’s done at Airship. The company has done work on some of the most talked-about recent titles such as Horizon Forbidden West, Halo Infinite & Forza Horizon 5 so it was amazing for our students to hear about the individual work that went into those projects! Erika also gave some invaluable advice on how to structure a portfolio and some extra interview tips for those in attendance.
After this series of talks, we had a panel that was open to the audience about Games Industry Careers, providing answers to some of these students burning questions about finding a Career in the Games Industry.
Our Panelists included:
- Andy Driver – XR Games
- Matthew Brett – 10: 10 Games
- Matt Wilson – Cloud Imperium Games
- Georgina Cornelius – Sumo Digital
- Phil Owen – d3t
Each of these individuals had great advice for all of these future game developers and it also opened up the conversation about how the industry can better promote jobs to graduates.
After wrapping up at Sheffield Hallam University, everyone headed over to the National Videogame Museum for the winner’s announcements. A huge thank you to the NVM for hosting us, with all of the various games consoles and arcade machines open for everyone to use. It’s an amazing venue for students, education and industry to share their love of games & to award our winners with certificates!
It goes without saying that all of the entries this year were of an incredibly high standard and at Grads in Games, it’s been a fantastic experience seeing all of these students grow as game developers while creating these projects. However, our judges had to pick some winners out of this incredibly impressive year and they were as follows:
- Auguste Lubickaite from the University of Portsmouth with the VFX project Love Bomb
- James Wilson from the University of York with the programming project Gods And Curses (SFAS)
- Kian Bennett from the University of Portsmouth with the Programming project Minecrawlers (RS)
- Kristel Konstantinova From Anglia Ruskin University with the environment art project The Chengdu Metro Station (SFAS)
- Michael Dolman from the University of South Wales with the Environment Art project An Industrial Playground (RS)
- SFAS Ryan Kelly from Anglia Ruskin University with the Character Art Project Colonel Sanders, Knight of the Rotisserie Table (SFAS)
- RS Maxine Lugg from the University of Hertfordshire with the Character Art project Witch Hunter (RS)
- Cai Jones from De Montfort University with the Games Animation project Paladin Piper.
A huge thank you to Escape Technology for supplying prizes for our winners this year! The Students were overwhelmed with what was supplied to them and also thank Escape Technology for such great gear!
After a huge round of applause and congratulations to all our entrants, finalists and winners there was time for a big networking event afterwards where everyone got to chat with one another and hopefully make connections that will help them go forward in the industry.
On behalf of Grads in Games, we would like to thank everyone involved with Search for A Star & Finals Day from our amazing partners to each student, university or studio that gets involved – we truly believe it’s making the industry a better place and with all of your help we can eventually break down those barriers between Industry and Education
Now to start planning for next year…