Train2Game News GameBlast 2020

SpecialEffect’s annual GameBlast fundraising spectacular is back over the weekend of 21-23 February 2020, and the charity are inviting gamers to hit £1M raised over the event’s seven-year history.

GameBlast is the UK’s largest charity gaming weekend and has raised nearly £800,000 so far to support disabled gamers.

It’s a festival of sponsored gaming marathons, streams and events taking place in a multitude of bedrooms, lounges, village halls, colleges and studios, all with the aim of helping the charity transform the lives of more gamers like Joe.

Joe has Duchenne muscular dystrophy and although he can’t use a standard games controller or keyboard because of his very limited abilities, he can still enjoy the excitement and inclusion of video games because of a customised controller setup put together by the charity.

He’ll be one of the gamers taking part in GameBlast20.

“I’m playing because I know what a big difference SpecialEffect make to young disabled people’s lives,” he said this year. “I was finding it very difficult to use my computer because of my disability so they came to assess what specialised equipment I needed. They managed to get me playing games again.”

SpecialEffect’s Tom Donegan said, “GameBlast is such an important event for us, not only because of the donations it generates but also the way in which it connects our work to the gaming community at large. People are so inventive with the challenges they set themselves, and the range of activities is always such a joy to see! It’s always a fantastic feel-good weekend, with gamers coming together to help their fellow gamers. It’s the best excuse to game ever.”

You can sign up for GameBlast20 at https://www.gameblast20.org.uk and keep up with the action at https://twitter.com/gameblast

Train2Game News Yorkshire Games Festival 2020

Assisting as a bastion for the UK’s ever-ambitious and successful games industry in the north of England, the National Science and Media Museum is excited to announce that the much-celebrated Yorkshire Games Festival will return to Bradford for its fourth outing between 5-9 February 2020.

Once again, the five-day event will be pitched at developers, gamers, and families alike, offering a wide variety of events and activities to appeal across the spectrum. Leading the line from an industry perspective, however, will be the Games Talks sessions from professionals and experts running across two dedicated days, 6-7 February.

Tickets for Yorkshire Games Festival: Game Talks 2020 are now available and can be picked up at the Yorkshire Games Festival website.

Heading up the line-up next year will be a bewitching mix of both developers and journalists, ensuring a heady blend of insight and inspiration for all attendees. Said billing will include famed indie developer Mike Bithell of Bithell Games, best known for Thomas Was Alone, Volume, and most recently John Wick Hex; Chloe Crookes of Team17 who serves as Senior QA Analyst; Sumo Digital level designer Zi Peters whose work at the company includes Hitman 2 and earlier in his career, Halo Wars 2; Patrick O’Luanaigh, CEO of award-winning virtual reality developer nDreams; renowned journalist Alysia Judge, whose work has been published in the BBC, The Guardian, IGN, and The Independent; Lead Animator Emma Hollingsworth of UK-based publisher Coatsink; and celebrated UK studio Rare will talk about the making of its swashbuckling multiplayer pirate action game Sea of Thieves. Further speakers will be announced in the future.

“We’ve made a point of providing a welcome environment for industry luminaries to come and lay open their views, their experiences, and their knowledge to what is always an engaged and committed crowd,” says Festival Director, Kathryn Penny.

“The next Yorkshire Games Festival is going to be no different, building on that strong relationship we’re developing with the industry and bringing those voices to the next generation – a generation of creatives who can’t typically head to events elsewhere around the country. It’s a unique meeting of minds, making the next festival the best yet.”

Adding to the mix of the event will be a demo by Team17 of its forthcoming co-op party game Moving Out – coming to PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC in 2020 – serving as the title’s first UK hands-on demo outside of London.

Team17 will also be setting up a pop-up Usability Lab at the museum, where attendees of the festival can get real-world experience of what it’s like to test games and give feedback.

“It’s exactly publishers like Team17 and activities like the Usability Lab that help us to illustrate just how wide and diverse the games industry is to our attendees,” continues Penny. “It’s very easy for those just thinking about starting out in games to have their eyes fixed on the big glamorous jobs at the Triple-A studios and not realise the industry has a wealth of other jobs and professions to offer.”

As such, also making the line-up this year are the developers behind CBBC’s online multiplayer game Nightfall, who will be showcasing the game at a dedicated play station across the course of the Let’s Play Family Weekend – running between 8-9 February – allowing up to 30 children to take it on at once. There will also be a gallery detailing the development of the game, alongside the chance to talk to those involved. It’s one of many opportunities for those starting out in the industry to see the other avenues to operating a successful business: it doesn’t all have to be Triple-A killer-apps for consoles.

Indeed, attendees will be able to get further insight into possible pathways in the world of games via “Meet the Developers” networking sessions, as well as dedicated career surgeries designed to shine a light on potential vocations, plus the return of the Young Developers Conference for 11-18 year olds, once again in partnership with BAFTA and the BAFTA Young Game Designers initiative.

For developers, Yorkshire Games Festival can also announce it has begun canvassing for games to exhibit at the Northern Games Showcase, with the remit being to show off to best the north of the UK has to offer to the festival’s throng of attendees.

If you’d like your game to be part of the mix, please contact Jack.Weedon@scienceandmediamuseum.org.uk.

The full schedule across the course of the week will be: –

  • Game Talks – 6-7 February: Talks featuring Mike Bithell of Bithell Games, Zi Peters of Sumo Digital, nDreams’ Patrick O’Luanaigh, journalist Alysia Judge, Chloe Crookes of Team17, Emma Hollingsworth of Coatsink, and celebrated Sea of Thieves studio Rare.
  • Young Developers Conference – 5-9 February: In partnership with BAFTA, the Young Developers Conference is a free and accessible event for young game developers. The conference will help provide opportunities to learn valuable skills and gain knowledge through talks, workshops and masterclasses led by industry professionals.
  • Let’s Play Family Weekend – 8-9 February: A weekend focus on families, young game developers, gaming enthusiasts and everyone in between, promoting intergenerational gameplay and learning. It features the BBC’s Nightfall, a Rocket League tournament in partnership with the British Esports Association, an exhibition of development projects from investment venture XR Stories looking at immersive and interactive technologies for storytelling, and a panel discussion about responsibility in video games chaired by Alysia Judge.

Keep your eye out for more announcements in the weeks ahead.

More details on the festival can found on the Yorkshire Games Festival website.