Yesterday we were kindly invited to Staffordshire University to be part of the GradEx 2012 judging panel for the Games Design and Production category. Considering we had originally graduated Staffordshire University 7 years prior, it was a nostalgic return to our academic roots. As a previous GradEx prizewinner, I understood how important these awards are in recognising excellence and the difference it makes for a graduate’s future employment.
Joining us were fellow Game Dev North co-hosts Sam Mottershaw (from Toxic Games), Ben and Craig from Project Static and Pete Bottomley from White Paper Games. Rounding off the panel were fellow game developers:
After an initial judges welcome and GradEx keynote speech from the Vice-chancellor, we were then escorted to the Octagon where the students had setup their projects, complete with presentation boards. What followed was a blistering tour of 10 minute presentations in which students enthusiastically pitched their projects and answered questions with aplomb.
A timely lunch gave a welcome break allowing us to catch up on recent news as well as compare notes and highlight students we hadn’t yet seen or were of exceptional merit. We then returned to our judging duties and finally, called together to give our verdicts.
With the diverse range of subjects and overall level of quality extremely high, we had the incredibly difficult task of whittling the list to a top 5. After a few minutes of back & forth discussions, we returned to the nominees and asked for concise 2 minute pitches to help settle the top three GradEx winners:
1st: David Smith – Active Cinematics in Games
2nd: Dominic Nash – Deformation of Dynamic Environments
3rd: Matthew Calvert – In-depth Narratives via Audio
Honourable Mentions: Paul Spencer & Sarah Lake
So congratulations to the top five – we all had agreed that if combined as a group, these students would have been able to develop and produce a fantastic game.
Thank you to our hosts Staffordshire University and lecturers Nia Wearn, Dave Edwards, Stuart Butler and Yvan Cartwright. I had a fantastic time and was honoured to be invited.