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By Jack Wentworth-Weedon on

Game over! Press start to continue?

The third annual Yorkshire Games Festival has come and gone in a whirlwind of inspiring speakers, incredible live shows and tons of gameplay! Now the dust has settled, we’re looking back at our top moments from the festival.

Young Developers Conference

As ever, we got things going with our Schools’ Day, which this year was presented with BAFTA as the first ever Young Developers Conference!

BAFTA were joined by Media Molecule, Impact Gamers and Unity for a range of shows and workshops aimed at getting kids inspired and making games. Students got an exclusive look at the upcoming game Dreams and contributed their wonderful range of ideas—including ‘Dogzilla’ and ‘a chicken shop’—in building a level together. It was really inspiring to see some of the creations that were made throughout the day; one group even built a multiplayer game in Unity within the space of an hour!

Media Molecule's game Dreams on the big screen at Yorkshire Games Festival
Getting a closer look at the eagerly anticipated Dreams

Game Talks

On Thursday and Friday, all the action moved into Pictureville Cinema for our programme of Game Talks—presentations and conversations with the best and brightest of the industry.

Rami Ismail on stage at Yorkshire Games Festival
Rami Ismail talking through the A-Z of his experiences in the games industry

Rami Ismail, the ‘Business and Development Guy’ at Dutch studio Vlambeer, introduced us to his A–Z of experiences in indie games development. His talk looked honestly at the realities of the industry and laid out the day-to-day encounters with co-workers and publishers which might be expected throughout the course of a career. With plenty of students in the audience, his advice was invaluable, and to hear such candour from a modern icon was really refreshing. We especially enjoyed his concept of Meditation Games—small games that can be played in an hour and are delivered to you daily—and have been enjoying this experience so far!

From Danish developer IO Interactive, Mette Andersen spoke to us about how social behaviours—brought about by a semester of social anthropology—informed her level design work in Hitman 2. This talk invited a lot of really insightful questions and observations from the audience. It was really encouraging that Mette drew from learning that fell outside of her ‘career interests’, showing how valuable learning experiences can be. Next time I’m trying to come up with ideas, I’ll see how I can fit in my semester of Ancient Greek Lyric Poetry… thanks Mette!

Mette Andersen in the National Science and Media Museum lobby
Mette Andersen, level designer at IO Interactive

The Game Talks were a wonderful blur of insights and advice. Other highlights included the inspiring tale of Media Molecule and how it grew into one of the coolest and most promising studios in the UK. Delegates also heard about how Motion Twin went from developers of free online mini games—the staple of many of our childhoods—to one of the most ambitious and successful indie titles of 2018, Dead Cells. Charles Cecil MBE spoke to us about his wealth of experiences in the industry through Broken Sword, which has now been with us for an impressive 22 years!

On top of these, our amazing speakers included Hwa Young Jung; Brjann Sigurgeirsson from Image and Form, who talked about living in SteamWorld; George Rule from Lucid Games’ Switchblade; and Richard England teasing us with an incredible Jurassic World VR experience. Game Talks ended with Andreas Öjerfors looking at how MachineGames took Wolfenstein and managed one of the most ambitious and prolific reboots of a series in recent memory.

Charles Cecil on stage at Yorkshire Games Festival
Videogame legend Charles Cecil taking us through the history of Broken Sword

Let’s Play!

With Game Talks over, it was time for our Let’s Play! weekend of family events, spanning the entire museum.

Visitors experienced a range of incredible talks across the weekend with developers, artists and designers offering their insights at the BAFTA Careers Bar. We generated an impressive range of speakers for this event and it was great to see visitors taking the opportunity to ask the key questions which could lead to a future career in gaming. Local gaming group Button Mash transformed the Kodak Gallery into an (appropriately) analogue section of the festival. Elsewhere, The Incredible Playable Show treated its guests to a unique interactive-comedy-videogame experience; the National Videogame Museum taught us how to launch a rocket with a banana; and Rotherham United Esports invited everyone to test their mettle against the pros at FIFA through the years.

Gallery One became the place to be for hands-on gameplay, with both the Northern Games Showcase and Videogames, But…, a special selection of weird and wonderful games. The custom-made controller for Sticky Cats worked a treat, and Wobble Garden was the one we had to drag staff and volunteers away from at the end of the day. We had a load of amazing local developers come to us for our showcase and we couldn’t be more proud to have represented the region with the games on show. We’re looking forward to seeing these talented Northern developers in the future!

Visitors trying out VR games at Yorkshire Games Festival
Trying out the VR experience Hello, Operator from Clixstudios
Alistair Aitcheson’s Incredible Playable Show at Yorkshire Games Festival
Alistair Aitcheson’s Incredible Playable Show
Mel Phillips from BAFTA on hand for advice at the Careers Bar
Mel Phillips from BAFTA on hand for advice at the Careers Bar
The Northern Games Showcase taking over Gallery One
The Northern Games Showcase taking over Gallery One
Family visitors at Yorkshire Games Festival 2019
Wobble Garden proved to be one of the most engaging experiences of Videogames, But…

Huge thanks to everyone involved for making Yorkshire Games Festival 2019 what it was… and see you all next year!

All photographs by Andy Garbutt.

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