The world is taking notice of the youth voice on climate change
The next generation of game designers from across the district are being inspired by a new project - thanks to investment from Wakefield Council's Creative Challenge and the Cultural Development Fund programme.
'Our Earth, Your Choice', the brain-child of award-winning Wakefield-based arts organisation, One to One Development Trust, is a new game that encourages players to think about the consequence of their choices on the health of the environment.
This innovative prototype video game is providing a learning pathway for 25 young people aged eight to 20-years-old who are being mentored whilst helping to produce the game.
The games industry is a dynamic and fast-growing sector in the UK and made a record £2.91bn contribution to the national economy in 2020.
The overall idea of the project is to give the participants an overview of the games industry. Our Earth, Your Choice will take the form of a 'miniature earth', where earth's fate is determined by the player's actions and choices and can be run from all web browsers.
Cllr Jacquie Speight, Wakefield Council's Cabinet Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: "Creating an online game is challenging in normal times, but during a pandemic whilst engaging young people in the process, and running all the development sessions over Zoom, can throw up a lot challenges. It's brilliant to hear that One to One have recruited a great cohort of young people who are passionate about gaming, creativity and the environment.
"Developing creative and digital skills is an important part of our Cultural Development Fund programme, which is working to grow our creative and digital sector and make sure local people can access quality employment opportunities. It's exciting to think that some of the young people taking part in this programme could be developing the skills to be the next success story for our district's thriving games industry."
Judi Alston, Creative Director and CEO at One to One said: "It is against this background that we want to help to inspire the young people of Wakefield. As the participants come together more and more, they will grow as a team, develop friendships and contacts that have the potential to be life-changing.
"We hope that this project will make them more critically aware of games, so they understand all the skills needed to make a game. There is lots of potential for the groups to be creative and use the project to explore their interests in character design, artwork, storytelling, graphic design and much more."
Over ten sessions the groups will look at character design, level design, different types of programming, soundscape, testing, marketing, creating a pitch deck and meeting other creative professionals linked to the gaming industry, building up personal skills like confidence, idea sharing, listening and speaking out.
In between sessions, as the game evolves, participants will be testing out their concepts and feeding back through polls and questionnaires. The final design will come together between sessions ensuring the 'feel' and 'concept' of what the game is, is a collective group effort.
Through the project One to One will also introduce the participants to some inspirational experts in the field, in particular Jordan Erica Webber, who is sharing her experiences of working in the games and media industry with the young people working on the project.
Jordan Erica Webber is the resident gaming expert on Channel 5's The Gadget Show, a presenter for BBC Radio 4, and host of podcasts including Wild Wild Tech and Talking Simulator. As well as presenting and recording, Jordan has written for the Guardian for nearly a decade, and co-authored a book called Ten Things Video Games Can Teach Us (about life, philosophy and everything).
Some feedback from the young participants include:
"I've loved meeting people on here with the same interests and listening to other people's ideas for our game."
"Climate change is an important issue - conveying this through video games is a good idea."
Our Earth, Your Choice will be launched as a beta-version game as part of Wakefield Council's Festival of the Earth in summer 2021. More details of this Festival will be announced in the coming months.
The Cultural Development Fund programme is managed by Wakefield Council and funded through a DCMS grant. The programme is driving growth in the creative and digital sector through a range of business support, creative skills development programmes and by providing opportunities to showcase local talent to wider audiences.