The National Science and Media Museum is pleased to announce the programme for this year’s Yorkshire Games Festival: Bonus Level which will take place throughout February. This year’s festival will look different to previous editions with an online programme of activities to account for the latest COVID-19 guidelines.
The festival is returning for its fifth edition in 2021 and will kick off on Friday 5 February with a series of online Game Talks from high-profile industry guests. The impressive line-up of talks will be hosted by festival friends Jordan Erica Webber (podcast host and presenter of The Gadget Show) and Keith Stuart (author and journalist for The Guardian).
Speakers will include Max Pears of CD Projekt Red, the company best known for The Witcher series and upcoming Cyberpunk 2077. Sallyann Houghton of Epic Games, who will be exploring virtual production and in-camera VFX. Melissa Phillips from Silver Rain Games, which launched in early 2020. Freelancer Lucy Kyriakidou, whose art has helped bring more than 20 games to life. And Max Mead, Senior Environment Artist at Ubisoft Leamington.
Following the Game Talks there will be a virtual Meet the Developers’ networking session where delegates will be able to network with guest speakers and chat with like-minded people via the festival’s Discord server. In the evening, festival fans can also flex their gaming knowledge in The Guardian Virtual Gaming Pub Quiz. Quiz admission is included as part of a Game Talks ticket.
The festival will be teaming up with the National Videogame Museum’s Yorkshire Gaming Podcast for a special programme discussing thoughts, feelings, and favourite takeaways from the Game Talks. The show is run by a collection of gaming businesses in Sheffield and is hosted weekly on the National Videogame Museum’s Twitch channel.
Tickets for the Game Talks are now available and can be booked via the Yorkshire Games Festival website. Joining instructions and other important information will be sent a few days before the event. Passes start from £5 each and group tickets are available.
World-renowned Yorkshire games company Team17, creators of Worms and publishers of Overcooked and Yooka-Laylee, will also be bringing back their Virtual Usability Lab, but this time beaming directly to festivalgoers at home. Games usability combines psychology, sociology, and videogames to help make fun accessible, and connects developers to gamers by allowing them to do what they do best – game!
By working with Team17 to help test new games in development, attendees will not only be providing valuable feedback to make games better for users, but it will be real-life experience to add to their CV. There are several time slots with limited space available on Friday 5 February, and those wishing to attend can sign up online now.
Throughout February there will also be festival activities available online on the museum’s website with a focus on younger games fans. Activities will include resources and videos from BAFTA Young Game Designers, great for anyone currently home-schooling during lockdown. BAFTA’s resources encourage and support young people to develop their own games which they can submit to the Young Game Designers competition, where entrants can be in with a chance of winning a BAFTA YGD Award, along with once-in-a-lifetime experiences with top game makers and industry professionals.
To help improve access to learning resources and activities, the museum will also be distributing up to 2000 printed activity packs to families and schools in Bradford as part of the festival from February onwards.
The Northern Games Showcase will also be returning digitally, as an online feature illustrating the best new games the region has to offer. Throughout February, visitors to the website will be able to discover and play games from exciting local creators who are making games in Yorkshire and across the North.
Festival Director, Kathryn Penny, comments: “This year’s Yorkshire Games Festival will look quite different to previous editions with all activities taking place online to account for the latest COVID-19 guidelines. Regardless of this virtual approach, we are welcoming an amazing line-up of expert industry speakers at this year’s Game Talks and there will be a host of fantastic learning resources and games available online throughout February for families to have fun with at home. We’re looking forward to virtually seeing lots of faces, new and old, to celebrate the brilliant and ever-growing games industry in the North.”
On Thursday 28 January, the Science Museum Group will also launch the first of its new 11-part event series, Climate Talks. The first talk takes place online and will be presented by science broadcaster Dr Hannah Fry and a panel of experts, including famed conservationist Dr Jane Goodall, who will explore the big question: how will climate change affect our future? Tickets for this talk and future events in the Climate Talks series are available to book online now.
For anyone currently home schooling there are also a number of exciting learning resources and science games available on the Science Museum Group’s learning resources page.
Tickets for Yorkshire Games Festival: Game Talks 2021 are now available and can be booked via theYorkshire Games Festival website. Joining instructions and other important information will be sent a few days before the event.
Talks and masterclasses will be presented via Zoom Webinar with content becoming accessible on the day. There will also be a dedicated Discord server operating throughout the day for attendees to network with speakers, submit questions and to chat all things gaming.