Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID and Staffordshire University to bring unique GamesJam to the city centre

Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID and Staffordshire University have joined forces to bring to the city centre, a unique and digital event – a GamesJam – that could result in the start of a promising career in the gaming industry for a talented team of developers.

‘Stoke ON TREND GamesJam 2021’ is a contest that will see hundreds of aspiring programmers and games designers – otherwise known as Jammers – come together to create playable games, each based around one of seven key city centre themes.

From 29 May, large swathes of Staffordshire University’s 2,000-strong Games Department, and anyone else with an interest in participating, so long as they are aged 16 or over and either at school college or university, will join in online for an intensive seven-day period to generate new and exciting video games which celebrate the culture and heritage of Stoke-on-Trent City Centre.

The plethora of new games developed within the GamesJam will then be made available to play on smartphones by anyone visiting the city centre via QR codes located at the corresponding themes’ location from Saturday 19 June to Sunday July 11.

Those playing the games will be encouraged to rate the games via their phones and at the end of the three-week ‘Play’ period, the person or group behind the top-rated game will win an incredible prize that could kickstart a lucrative future in Games: The winners will have the opportunity to work in a studio style environment at the Staffordshire University Games Institute for a six-week period over the summer of 2021. They will have access to the University’s commercial licenses to turn their Stoke ON TREND GamesJam game into a commercially releasable game.

Ben and Matt Horton were recently featured in a BBC News article recognising their huge success in the gaming industry.

When the identical twins produced their first big hit – a game called Boat Ride, launched on the online gaming platform Roblox – they were just 13. Seven years later, Ben and Matt work full-time on gaming. Their games have been played more than 100 million times and each of them earns £100,000 a year – the pair have even paid off their parent’s mortgage.

Speaking to the Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID, Ben Horton said:

“Game development is very much a continuous learning process – no matter your level of experience there will always be a skill to explore and consolidate. One awesome way to test these abilities is through game jams.

“Not only will you learn a great deal in the process, you’ll get to collaborate and compete against others in a fun environment… and you never know, it may just become a stepping stone for a potentially rewarding career, both emotionally and financially.”

And success has been enjoyed by young programmers closer to home too as a computer game created by Staffordshire University students in just 48 hours was last year shortlisted for Best Student Game at the Grads in Games Awards 2020, which sets out to help more graduates make the leap from student to professional developer.

Arcade style game Pair Up was developed by BSc (Hons) Computer Gameplay Design and Production students Joe Coulson, Dan Bond, Andrew Pearson, and Sabrina Lang when Staffordshire University hosted the UK’s largest Global Games Jam; an event which challenged 222 students to develop games in just two days.

Andrew Pearson found the experience invaluable:

“GamesJams are a great way of stress testing ideas and team mates to see how they perform in a fun and risk-free environment. They also provide a good demonstration of collaborative games development and when polished can be solid portfolio pieces.

“And it’s got to be said nothing brings a group of people together better than the sense of tired satisfaction that comes with eating half-cold pizza after finishing a project!”

Dr Bobbie Fletcher, Director of Staffordshire University’s Games Institute, added:
“I, along with the other staff in the department, was incredibly proud that our students were recognised for their game Pair Up. It is a well-deserved honour and amazing to see their talents recognised.

“GamesJams are an established part of the games industry internationally and are only rising in popularity every year with tens of thousands of Jammers getting involved from over 100 countries. They are instrumental in forging those building blocks towards a career within the Gaming industry – particularly with the prize that is up for grabs in GamesJam2021 that Staffordshire University is excited to bring to Stoke-on-Trent City Centre alongside Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID.

“This GamesJam is one with a difference – it is the very first time that one themed solely around a town – in this case, Stoke-on-Trent City Centre – has been hosted, so we are very much looking forward to seeing the output of themed games which will celebrate the city centre’s heritage and culture.”

Laura Morris, BID Director for the Entertainment Sector and Project Manager of Stoke ON TREND GamesJam 2021, hopes will bring a refreshed new audience to the city centre, keen to explore its offering in a unique, digital way:

“The involvement from our BID Businesses will be key to making the GamesJam a success by increasing the dwell time of our visitors.

“As well as QR codes opening up fun mobile games to be played out and about, there will be a number of additional ‘surprise’ QR codes located in various spots around the city centre that allow the mobile user to access discounts and freebies to be redeemable at a number of venues.”

“In addition, COVID-permitting, the BID will be hosting live music from local DJs during select weekends in June and July to provide an enjoyable atmosphere for those visiting the city centre and getting involved with playing games.”

If you are an aspiring designer or know someone who is, please visit www.stokeontrentcitycentre/gamesjam2021 to register your interest. Please note that GamesJam entrants must be aged 16 and over, and a student at school, college or a university.

For further information, please contact Stoke-on-Trent City Centre BID Marketing Manager, Alexandra Poole, on marketing@stokeontrentbid.co.uk or 07494118615.

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