Games industry elite gather in Bradford for Game Republic Student Showcase
Some of the UK’s leading games companies gathered in Bradford for the 2023 Game Republic Student Showcase - sponsored by PitStop Productions - which saw seven university and college teams compete for seven awards.
Game Republic is celebrating its 20th Anniversary in 2023 as the largest industry-led games business network in the North of England. The network supports and promotes the Yorkshire and Northern England games industry, with over 1,000 developers and company members including Rebellion North, Sumo Digital, Revolution Software, Boneloaf, the University of Huddersfield, Team17, Eaton Smith Solicitors and Double Eleven.
This year to celebrate its anniversary, Game Republic is being supported by official partners Barclays, Red Kite Games and Escape Technology.
The event showcases student work and provides networking opportunities so that the final years can gain useful contacts – which often lead to employment - in the industry. This year alongside student teams, previous winners from the last decade also attended.
After the award presentations, the students got practical insights from a panel of previous Showcase participants about how to secure a job in the games industry.
Assistant Professor Robert Redman (above), who studied games design development at Bradford and has also worked in the industry and who now teaches the Game Design and Development programme at Bradford, said: “We’re trying to get students to be known by big name companies. That’s the ultimate goal of any gaming or animation student. It’s really difficult to get that level of contact without knowing someone who already works for the big companies. Events like these mean that students don’t need to know someone to be introduced to the bigger companies and they can then share their projects with them. We’re very proud to be able to host the Showcase in Game Republic’s 20th anniversary year.”
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Jamie Sefton, managing director of Game Republic, said: “Since we’ve started the showcase, we’ve looked back and 90 percent of the showcase winners go on to get jobs in industry, which is amazing. It’s good that we have celebrated our 20th anniversary as a network by hosting the event in Bradford, because Bradford is a really important university for games courses and obviously Bradford is going to be the City of culture 2025, which will celebrate our creativity and culture.
“The video games industry is such a massive part of the creative industries and so to have all these game companies converging on Bradford, and having all this amazing creativity right here is fantastic for the university and for the city.”
Charles Cecil, Founder of Revolution Software, said: “I'm really proud that we’re one of the award sponsors of the Game Republic Showcase. It's always fantastic to come and see the extraordinary work of the students. The quality of their work goes up in every year, and it's phenomenal, partly because Yorkshire and Northern universities seem to attract such talented students, and also, students can express themselves in way that just weren't possible before with the game engines.
“The University of Bradford is one of the phenomenal universities across the region, and it's just great to be a part of this event and be a judge.”
Student teams competed for the Sumo Digital Award for Game Design, the Rebellion North Award for Art and Animation, the Revolution Software Award for Game Narrative Design, the Red Kite Games Award for Game Technology, the Distinctive Games Award for Level Design, The PitStop Productions Award for Game Audio and Best Team Award.
There were 34 projects in a range of categories in games and animation, to be judged.
Among the winners was Game Design and Development student Mara Solomon (above), 22, from Romania, who won 2nd prize in the Revolution Software Award for Game Narrative Design for her game Memento.
She said: “It's a game for music, nostalgia lovers, any story-based fanatics. I am hoping to release it at the end of the summer and add it to my portfolio. I’d like it to help me secure a job in the games industry.
“I think today is a good opportunity to pitch my game and see what other companies think about it. To hear if they have feedback, things they think I can add or change to the game to improve it and what they like about it. It would be ideal if they liked my game so much, they wanted to offer me an internship.”
Robin Pither (above), 21, a University of Braford BA Game Design and Development graduate and current Masters in Philosophy student, designed the Game Republic Student Showcase 2023 mascot for the event which was printed on T-shirts and used in the online promotions for the event. She entered the Rebellion North ‘Game Art and Animation’ Award at the event and presented her research findings on the representation of disabilities in video games.
She said: “I hope my research can influence the gaming industry to be more reflective and inclusive of the disabilities in the world. I want players to be able to identify with the game characters in every game. I wish to spark conversations and make connections to people in the industry so I can do more to make this a reality.”
Sebastian Galowicz, a third-year animation student originally from Poland, presented a 1920s music animation entitled The Depth, said: “Like every artist I want to create something that everyone will like. I get enjoyment from seeing others looking at my art.”
Graduate brothers grant for game
It isn’t just current students who are aiming to make their mark on the games world. Alumni Ahseem Yousuf, 26, and his brother, Harun Ali 29, from Bradford, have just received a £12,000 grant from the UK Games Fund to develop their Grim up North video game.
Ahseem graduated with a BA (Hons) Film and Television Production in 2021 and now works as a freelance filmmaker, while Harun graduated in 2015 with a BSc in Game Design and Development and lives as a game's tester in Tenerife, Spain.
They are working with games artist Faisal Hussain 32, who also studied at the University of Bradford.
Ahseem said: “The game is about Bradford and Yorkshire. Alien shape-shifters have invaded and it’s up to an elderly detective to find them. He does this by testing what the aliens know about the Yorkshire Rose, David Hockney, Yorkshire buses and other regional, as well as British icons.
“It’s a text-based game aimed at anyone aged 12 and over, which we hope will be ready to release later this year or next year.
“We’ve had good feedback so far. One young girl tried level one and she was completely absorbed for the whole level.”
Watch the trailer for Grim up North here.