Game Design Competition…

BAFTA 2008

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I have just come from a phone interview with a person who works for the organisation, BAFTA – British Academy of Film and Television Arts. It’s not just film and television though – they also dish out awards for videogames too, and that’s what I’m hoping they’ll do to me.

With two of my friends from school – James and Ben I entered a videogame design competition called BAFTA Young Game Designers. In our team of three, we had to come up with a original, creative concept for a game and fill in an entry form detailing our ideas: The main sections were 100 words on Gameplay, Story, Characters, Unique Selling Points, etc. but an annotated piece of concept art was also required. We produced a ‘screenshot’ of what the game in play may look like. This involved a background made by Ben and a GUI/HUD made by James and I.

I will not be posting details of our design because in the terms and conditions of the competition it said that all entrants retained the right to take their concept to any studio in order to develop it commercially. I don’t want people stealing it! (edit: It’s probably been stolen by now)
I may post the screenshot though, after we find out the outcome of the competition if the other two permit me.

The prize package consists of a week of work experience in an EA studio, a prototype of our game, a piece of games hardware of our choice (each I think) and the “physical component of the prize” which I suppose is a BAFTA award, a bit like the one above, but smaller, and probably different in design slightly, because I think the event it will be awarded at is the BAFTA Young People Awards event or something.

Somebody my mother works with has a photo of her son holding a BAFTA award in each hand – he worked on Batman Arkham Asylum. I’d love to be able to match that but I won’t be able to for years at the moment, and it would take a lot of effort and amazing colleagues to achieve two BAFTAs!

Back to the competition – we were all always confident in our design and thought we’d do quite well with it. I got a phone call yesterday (my Mum actually answered it) to say we’d been shortlisted for the prize and needed to have a telephone interview today! That meant we had been chosen, out of potentially hundreds of applicants to be in the top 8 – 10 groups! We were all really happy and excited.

I wrote a list of all the questions I could possibly think of that we might be asked and printed Ben and James a copy each for them to think about. We would be phoned on my landline so Ben came to my house at about four o’clock – 50 minutes before the interview leaving us plenty of time to discuss and prepare. James arrived only five minutes before, after we had panicked and thought he wasn’t coming for fifteen minutes.

We sat around the speakerphone and I became nervous, like I so often do. Then came the phone call. Mum answered it and spoke to the woman from BAFTA. She then put it on speakerphone so we could talk to her. The interview only lasted about 10 minutes and the purpose apparently was only to ensure that we were who we said we were, to check that we all existed and that the design was a team contribution. We were all asked about our individual contributions and about how the game was inspired as well as being asked for our location and to confirm our ages. We had to turn the speakerphone off half way through the interview and use a normal one because it was hard to hear.

I was nervous and sweating buckets, but I think the interview went well overall. The jurors will meet in a week to decide who wins the competition, then the award ceremony is in London at the end of the month.

Fingers crossed… quietly confident… not getting hopes up too much just in case…

The work experience would be a dream come true for me. I’m not sure what was meant by the “choice of videogame hardware” but if there’s a gaming PC available I’d love that too. Or maybe a PS3 developer kit. I could make minis for the Playstation Store. The prototype of the game will probably be good if the people making it understand the concept. Having the physical prize would be amazing! In a few years I could take it to an interview with a studio and say I’d won a games design competition run by BAFTA.
Being shortlisted is quite an achievement too, I suppose, so at the moment I’m celebrating that.

(edit: We didn’t win)


About Matt

I like writing, filmmaking, programming and gaming, and prefer creating media to consuming it. On the topic of consumption, I'm also a big fan of eating.
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