Studio student Tyler Rotheram has been shortlisted as a finalist in the BAFTA young game designer awards, in the 15-18 year-old ‘concept’ category. The nationwide competition is designed to to find the game designers of the future, with the winners chosen by a panel of industry professionals.
Tyler’s game Conundrum is a first-person, interactive adventure game. The player has to escape a hotel they’ve been trapped inside, in a hybrid between escape-the-room style puzzles and platforming. You can see the full YouTube video here.
The Studio student has secured a job with Sony for the summer testing games and has confirmed his place at Teeside University next year to study game development – he plans to be a game producer, writer and creative director. “Competing in the competition not only drove me to actually create something which was quality, meaningful, and had worth, but also to work to time constraints and plan everything effectively,” says Tyler. “I never say no to an opportunity to improve. I also knew that even applying would be great as experience to talk about in interviews. My main goal out of this is to network with industry and hopefully catch the eye of a big company.
“I only had three months until the deadline – alongside 4.5 A levels – so I combed the brief, patterns in previous entries, and had ideation sessions in order to come up with the idea. Once everything was written down, I submitted my application and waited patiently, assuming I’d never hear back. Fortunately, my hard work paid off.”
Entries from the 53 finalists address a range of social purposes, including mental health, climate change, conservation, disability, bereavement and transgender rights, in creative adventure, imaginary kingdoms, quests and puzzle formats.
“This was the first time I was really questioned on what I actually wanted to do in the industry, which changed how I approached problems,” he says. “I started learning programming to understand how the software development pipeline works. The Studio has many networking events which helped me to meet new people in industry – I got to do testing for Ripstone Games and Lucid Games, which changed my perception of how the game design process works. Talks with my mentor Enda Carey really helped me understand how the industry works, and therefore how I can develop games for the industries current environment.
“The environment and extra-curricular Studio things shape how you approach situations. For example, Project Based Learning had me set in a room with people I didn’t know, and made me come up with an idea for a product. Back then, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do in the games industry, except that I wanted to be in it – I found my speciality was project management, and team leadership; somehow, I ended up managing a team of 21 people making a game.”
Dr. Jo Twist OBE, Chair of Games Committee at BAFTA, says: “Games are a fantastic art form for creators to express themselves, and I am delighted to see young people tackling important topics through their design and concept entries this year. Their creativity and ambition for social change through the medium of games is inspiring. A very well deserved congratulations and good luck to all the 2019 finalists!”
BAFTA’s Young Game Designers (YGD) competition is an annual event, which began in 2010. It aims to demonstrate the creativity that goes in to game design and give young people and their teachers, an understanding of the rewarding careers available within the industry.
“I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for the creative, galvanising environment that the Studio provides,” Tyler says. “If I was still too scared to reach out and ask people in industry questions then I would be nowhere right now. Now I don’t hesitate. If I see an opportunity, I just go for it.”
The winners will be announced at a special awards ceremony at BAFTA’s headquarters in London on Saturday 29 June.