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Two Northern Ireland students selected as finalists for prestigious BAFTA gaming competition

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Holly Wright and Rachel Houston

Holly Wright and Rachel Houston

Team Space Palette: Holly Wright and Rachel Houston

Team Space Palette: Holly Wright and Rachel Houston

Artwork from 'Space Palette'

Artwork from 'Space Palette'

Artwork from 'Space Palette'

Artwork from 'Space Palette'

Artwork from 'Space Palette'

Artwork from 'Space Palette'

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Holly Wright and Rachel Houston

Two students from Northern Ireland have been named finalists for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts' (BAFTA) prestigious Young Game Designers (YGD) competition.

YGD is an initiative by BAFTA designed to support young people to create, develop and present their new game idea to the world, using freely available software.

It is a year-round initiative of public events, workshops and a competition for 10-18 year-olds, climaxing with the annual award ceremony.

A total of 51 finalists from across the UK have been announced for this year's competition, following five months of entrants developing their game concepts and designs.

The games explore a variety of topics, including climate change, mental health, bereavement and relationships.

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Artwork from 'Space Palette'

Artwork from 'Space Palette'

Artwork from 'Space Palette'

Kilkeel teenagers Holly Wright and Rachel Houston (17) have been selected for their game 'Space Palette', which involves the player becoming a lone space traveller flying from planet to planet as they avoid the spreading 'colour corruption', which has caused planets to be drained of colour before dying.

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The pair said being picked as finalists came as a "huge surprise".

"But, now it unlocks new opportunities ahead for us within the games industry, so we're glad we made it this far at least. One of the best parts of our game has to be the concept artwork - we would love to see how this translates into a full game as art aesthetics play a major role here," they said.

"Our main inspiration was drawn from other 2D platform games such as Hollow Knight- the art and aesthetics of this game is the biggest inspiration here. What we're looking forward to is seeing how far our game can really go.

"As well as being able to meet some of the professionals within the industry, it really is a huge opportunity for us to be able to open so many paths for us in the foreseeable future."

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Artwork from 'Space Palette'

Artwork from 'Space Palette'

Artwork from 'Space Palette'

The winners will be revealed during a remote ceremony on July 8, hosted by presenter and journalist Elle Osili-Wood, who described YGD as "one of the most exciting events on the games calendar".

"Each year, I’m blown away by the creativity, innovation, and technical skill of YGD entrants, so I couldn’t be more honoured to host this year’s ceremony," she said.

"Not only is it an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of young people in an incredibly difficult year, it’s also your chance to spot the next Hideo Kojima, or Amy Hennig - and to say you saw them first."

Dr Jo Twist, chair of the BAFTA Games Committee, added: "In a year when young people’s education was severely disrupted, it is fantastic to see so many wonderful ideas entered.

"Games have played such an important role in connecting, supporting, and entertaining people over the last year and it has been fascinating to see how much the wider industry has positively influenced the entrants, with a number of them citing their contemporary titles.

"We were so impressed by the originality demonstrated across the board and extend our congratulations to this year’s finalists."


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