Festival born out of idea by IT teacher

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Games Britannia has grown out of an initiative launched last year by IT teacher Mark Hardisty at Brinsworth Academy.

Following that success, Rotherham Council asked Mr Hardisty if he could organise a bigger event as part of the Rotherham Children’s Festival.

“We can’t do anything in our lives without the people who write software,” says Mark Hardisty. “You can’t go on holiday, you couldn’t buy anything from the supermarket…

“Kids are excited about computer games. They are passionate about them. It’s estimated that by the time they are 20, the average person will have spent 10,000 hours playing computer games – wouldn’t it be better if they had spent those 10,000 hours developing computer games?

“Creativity is a very important part of games development, too. They can’t exist without music, sound effects, dialogue, speech and artistic design.”

Dr Jake Habgood, senior lecturer on Sheffield Hallam’s game development courses, agrees.

“We want to engage children with the exciting opportunities that the videogame industry offers,” said Dr Habgood.

“Making games is a fantastic way to challenge and inspire students to study programming, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics - as well as art, English and music - by applying them all creatively to a finished product.

“The 2011 Livingstone-Hope report identified a skills shortage as a barrier to growth in the UK videogames industry. It also identified the need to address schools’ lack of understanding about the industry.

“The Games Britannia festival will address those issues by providing children with practical hands-on workshops in game development, much of which can be replicated in homes and schools after the event. The festival will also inform young people on career paths in the industry - and it will be a celebration of the rich videogame development heritage that our region has.”