30 Nov 2021

By: Sport Industry Group

After a successful year-long partnership over 2020/2021, Barclays and NSE have renewed their partnership. Barclays commitment to grassroots games and esports will see the bank sponsor the British University Esports Championships (BUEC) and the second Games Innovation Challenge, which will take place next year in 2022. 

The Games Innovation Challenge, a games development competition for students across the UK to test their skills and creativity, is expanding in its second year, to allow even more students to take part across a wider range of categories, with applications opening in January. 

Previously, the competition was only eligible for university students, however going forward, the Games Innovation Challenge will also be open to college students aged 16 and over!  

Plus, five new award categories have been introduced for 2022 which are Gameplay, Design, Social Impact, and two platform awards which are the Unity Choice Award and the Epic Choice Award where the best games developed on the two platforms will be selected. 

Starting in January, students have nine weeks to create the most innovative games with the chance to win across the five categories for a part of the £5,000 prize pool. The winner for the best game overall will receive £2,500.  

For the Gameplay Award, the games will be judged on the most original concept, excellent storytelling and enjoyable gameplay. Design elements will be judged from sound, art style, graphics, and technical quality to win the Design Award. As for the Social Impact category, purpose must be at the heart of the game and could tackle difficult issues such as promoting environmental sustainability or considering accessibility. 

A panel of gaming and esports industry experts will be judging the entries on the five categories and the overall innovation of each submission. 

Teams can be formed of students from different universities or colleges and can also contain non-students. However, to participate, the majority of the team and the project lead must be current students at a university or college. Any platform and prebuilt assets can be used, providing the team have the permission or license to do so. 

Alex Coulson, Managing Director, NSE, said: 

“We’re so pleased to renew our partnership with Barclays and to see the Games Innovation Challenge return after such a successful competition earlier this year. The expansion to include college students is especially exciting and will add to a pool of an already talented group of students.  

“We’re grateful to have Barclays’ support to give opportunities to champion and develop the diverse student community. The games submitted in the 2021 challenge surpassed our expectations and we can’t wait to see what games are designed next year.” 

David Gowans, Head of Games and Esports, Barclays, added: 

“We are excited to continue our partnership with NSE. The success of the first Games Innovation Challenge helped to highlight the calibre of future developer talent the UK has to offer. Continuing to work with NSE on its second iteration, with the prospect of bringing in a wider range of participants, gives us an even greater opportunity to continue our support of the growing games and esports industries, from the grassroots up.”