Record Breaking for Graduate Games Development Challenge

By April 17, 2018 Industry News

Winners Announced at Largest Ever

Grads in Games Finals Day Conference


Rotherham – April, 2018

Friday the 6th of April saw Sheffield Hallam University host the largest ever Finals Day Conference for the Search for a Star and Sumo Digital Rising Star Games Development Challenges. Following a record year with almost 1000 entrants and the involvement of over 100 universities and nearly 60 studios; Friday saw over 200 students, graduates, lecturers and industry professionals come to see the 31 finalists face off panels of industry experts. 2018 also saw the events biggest ever prize fund and the first Grads in Games Awards ceremony. The addition of the awards this year has been to celebrate the work of academics, educational institutions and industry in supporting the next generation of games developers.

“It’s amazing to see how this has grown. 8-years-ago it was Lizi Attwood and me in a conference room at Relentless in Brighton. We’d had, may be 50 entries. This year we’ve had nearly 1000, from over 100 universities. Over 100 entries from outside the UK. This just gets bigger and better every year.” Ian Goodall, Grads in Games Founder & Managing Director at Aardvark Swift

“These sorts of challenges are vital to the industry’s future. Red Kite actively build partnering with Grads in Games into our recruitment strategy. Frankly, if you’re a student that isn’t entering the Search For A Star or the Rising Star competitions then we don’t believe that you’re serious about getting a job in video games.” Simon Iwaniszak, Managing Director at Red Kite Games

“It was a great event, makes you realise how important graduates are to the industry.” Claire Boissiere, Studio Director Conspexit Games Ltd. & Guest Speaker at Finals Day

“With VFX being a relatively new discipline, we couldn’t find the best graduate candidates without initiatives like Grads in Games.” Mike Snowdon, VFX Director at Cloud Imperium & VFX Finals Judge


“Graduates are our future. The UK Games Industry needs to engage with educators and nurture this talent for it to survive and grow. Being here at Finals Day I have to say Aardvark’s initiatives with graduates through Rising Star, Search for a Star and the Grads in Games Awards are the best examples I have seen.” Philip Oliver, Rebellion Warwick & Guest Speaker at Finals Day


The 1st ever Grads in Games Award Winners were:

Academic Award                       Dr Daryl Marples (University of Huddersfield)

Educational Institution Award   Howest DAE

Student Award                          Kial Oliver-Gibson (University of Huddersfield)

Student Game Award                Kabounce by NHTV Breda

Graduate Employer Award        nDreams

Graduate Impact Award            Nicolas Pirot, Technical Artist at Rocksteady

This year’s Search for a Star Winners were:
VFX –                                         Jacob Beckley (University of Huddersfield)

Animation –                               Adelaide Coldham (Hertfordshire University)

Environment Art –                     Joseph Bamber (Futureworks Media School)

Character Art –                          Shannon Symonds (Southampton Solent University)

Code –                                       Robert Arnold (Newcastle University)
This year’s Sumo Digital Rising Star Winners were:


Animation –                               Saif Munawar (Bradford University)

Environment Art –                     Jimmy Ghysens (Howest DAE)

Character Art –                          Kial Oliver-Gibson (University of Huddersfield)

Code –                                       John Green (University of Central Lancashire)


Grads in Games would like to thank our industry Partners, Patrons and Sponsors without whom Grads in Games would not be possible:

Sumo Digital                 Sketchfab                     Jagex

nDreams                      Allegorithmic               Nintendo

BossAlien                     AntCGI                         Playtonic

Red Kite Games             Atomhawk                    Toon Boom Animation

d3t                               Creative Assembly        Toxic Games

Edgecase Games           Funko                           Unity

Furious Bee                  Futurlab                       Wacom


Further Information:

Grads in Games Website:

Grads in Games Awards Page:
Aardvark Swift Homepage:

About Grads in Games:

Grads in Games is a set of educational initiatives created by award winning, UK based video games recruitment agency Aardvark Swift. Now in their eighth year Grads in Games encompasses


– The Get in the Game tour and careers talks, visiting nearly 50 universities and colleges across the UK and Europe. Involving representation from development and recruiters to speak to students, answer their questions and dispel the myths about working in video games.


– Search for a Star and Sumo Digital Rising Star game development challenges. With tasks set by industry veterans, these yearly challenges are aimed at preparing graduates, post graduates and undergraduates. Providing all entrants with the foundation of a professional portfolio, invaluable feedback from actual developers. Finalists get to have their work and portfolio assessed in an interview with a panel of experts and the possibility of a job or internship with a leading UK studio.
– The Grads in Games Awards created to been to celebrate the work of academics, educational institutions and industry in supporting the next generation of games developers.

– Finals Day Conference a day long event not only including the selection of Search for a Star & Rising Star winners, but presentations and masterclasses about games development, networking events and an unparalleled opportunity for academics to meet with industry professionals and discuss the future of video games.


Contact Details:
Rachel Frost

Marketing Manager


Tel: +44 (0)1709 834 777

Mob: +44(0)7807 754 552


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