Every year, The BAFTA Young Game Designers competition gives developing minds the chance to develop video games. There's nothing stopping 10-18 year olds from just doing that anyway, but I know from speaking to last year's winners that the competition can provide a valuable stepping stone for talented game designers at the start of their careers.
If you're a monster who's not interested in the heartwarming human interest side of the story, maybe I can lure you in with the promise of free games. This year's award ceremony took place this weekend, and checking out the winning entries won't cost you a penny.
Here's BAFTA's post about the awards, which includes a brief summary of the winning games. There's a game concept award and a game making award, each split into two age brackets.
In theory, you can play what the winners and finalists made here. In practice, you might find some of those pages are broken at the moment - I managed to download Super Boson, but when I view the page now I only see a barebones version that lacks the text and download link.
Super Boson won the 15-18 year old game making award, and jeez is it hard. The blurb on BAFTA's website describes it as a "puzzle/action game about particle physics, which aims to inspire scientific curiosity and interest in physics and other STEM fields amongst younger audiences by portraying science in a fun and engaging way". It's a lot like Flywrench, but with sub-atomic particles in place of geometric shapes. You navigate short courses by swapping between them, dodging gravity wells and bypassing zeton detectors. It falls on the overly frustrating side of fun for me, but I dig the concept.
I can't say I learned much, though I do now know that chions and antichions both experience the electromagnetic force, and are thus respectively repelled by or attracted to charged plates. Please do not ask me what a chion is.
The focus of the awards is deservedly on the winners, but YGD isn't just about the competition. As BAFTA tell it:
"The BAFTA YGD competition is part of a year-round programme of activity that gives young people and educators unique insights into the games industry and access to the creative minds behind some of their favourite games. Support includes: a website (www.bafta.org/ygd) where BAFTA members, award winners and nominees share their insights and advice and a range of teaching resources that link the BAFTA YGD competition to the national curriculum."
I wish this had existed during my schooldays. Maybe I'd have got to make a game during my ICT lessons rather than fiddling with Excel.
Disclaimer: our Katharine helped to judge the Game Concept category. The opinions of RPS staffers cannot be escaped.