Tim Hunter, director of learning and events at BAFTA, details why the Academy is backing Brains Eden

Supporting the next generation

On July 4th, BAFTA contributed to the Brains Eden programme, where Mike Bithell – creator of the hugely successful, award-winning indie game Thomas Was Alone – shared the tricks of his trade with an eager audience of emerging game makers.

Bithell gave an account of his journey so far; starting as a traditional developer at Blitz Games Studios and Bossa Studios before finding success with Thomas Was Alone, a game he made in his spare time. Two years on, the game has hit a million copies sold, and won several awards. He is now working with a team to bring his second independent project, Volume, to completion.

Brains Eden is just one of 250 events in BAFTA’s yearly programme. All of our events are open to everyone – not just BAFTA members – and focus on developing the art and craft of making film, TV and games. As with Bithell’s session at Brains Eden, they are a platform for a BAFTA winner or nominee to talk about their career. Many of our events are aimed at those in the industry, but an almost equal and increasing number target the next generation of talent.

Pulling down barriers

For BAFTA, it’s important that we support the next generation, as we believe there should be no barriers for talented people to succeed. Events like these not only share insights but help new talent to meet and network with people who can support their development. Our events help those coming into the industry to understand the creativity that goes into making an award-winning game.

Our BAFTA Games Committee, comprised of elected BAFTA members, guides us in all we do in games – helping us identify those who are doing great things and keeping us up to date with the latest trends in the industry.

Five years ago, the Games Committee highlighted the issues that were to inform the Next Generation Livingstone-Hope report. BAFTA Young Game Designers was our response to that – an initiative aimed at young people with a passion for games, giving them insights into what it’s like to work in games as well as the opportunity to enter a competition in which the winning ideas get made into a game. We have engaged tens of thousands of people with our workshops, competition and our web series produced in partnership with Yogscast.

It was also the Games Committee who highlighted the opportunity of working with Brains Eden and who stressed the importance of supporting the games industry in Cambridge. Our partnership with Brains Eden has grown this year – Brains Eden worked with us on our indie developer networking event at The Cambridge Junction with David Braben on Tuesday, July 1st.

The Brains Eden festival invites students from all over the world to take part in an intense creative programme, taking advantage of the fantastic games industry infrastructure that thrives in Cambridge.

A key part of why we are so keen to support the festival is because of the work they do to introduce the industry to the next generation of talent – something that we encourage.

Our members are not obliged to give back in this way – people are members for many reasons and many of our members are ‘silent supporters’, content to vote in the awards and support our mission in this way.

However, we have found that many members are very keen to volunteer their time, and we make it our mission to ensure that the projects we are involved with are of a high standard – we want our members to be able to ‘give back’.

The BAFTA team try to do the heavy lifting so that our members don’t have to, and we are so grateful for their support. So if you were in Cambridge on Tuesday 1st or Friday 4th, thanks for joining us in celebrating the fantastic artists who are contributing to making the industry and gaming culture in the UK one of the most exciting in the world.

You can read more about this year’s event in our Special Feature, Brains Eden Gaming Festival: Bringing the world to Cambridge

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