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Sunderland student makes finals of Bafta Young Game Designers contest

Adam Pace has made the final of the Bafta Young Game Designer awards.
Adam Pace has made the final of the Bafta Young Game Designer awards.
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A Sunderland teenager has made it to the finals of a nationwide competition to find the game designers of the future.

Adam Pace, 17, is one of 60 finalists vying to win a prestigious award in the Young Game Designers (YGD) contest run by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (Bafta).

The competition gives young people aged 10-18 the chance to design and create their own game.

Adam, who is studying game design at Sunderland College, made the final with his entry, a 2-4 player platforming shooter called Coob Dools.

He is hoping to win the Game Making Award, which recognises a paper-based written game idea, and offers the chance to have a prototype created by a team of developers.

Adam left school in Year 10 so he could home-study for the GCSEs he required to be accepted onto the Nextgen game design course at Sunderland College's Bede Campus.

After getting the required grades he was enrolled onto the course, and, at 15, was the youngest student to be taken on by Nextgen.

He had only been designing games for a few months, and had only worked on one level of a platform game.

In his free time he started his first full game, Coob Dools, and it quickly began to take shape.

"I started creating the game in December 2016," said Adam. "It started - as the name suggests - with two cubes duelling in one level. Over the next year it evolved into what it is today.

"I began adding a lot more to the game - more weapons to pick up, more levels, more visuals and effects - and, most importantly, more players to the game.

"It's a very fast-paced, local multi-player platform game, where players battle each other to see who will win the round and quickly move to the next one, to keep people engaged. It has become so much more than I thought it would."

When Coob Dools was finished it was showcased at a gaming event in Birmingham, where the college had a stand, and proved so popular with the public that they ended up having to set up on extra screens.

If the game had been available to buy, it could have sold lots of copies, and Adam found there was even demand for Coob Dools merchandise, with family and friends now sporting T-shirts and beanies.

"After getting the call from my dad it was surreal to hear the word 'nomination'," he said. "I had been striving to be nominated into the YGD for two and a half years, ever since I heard about it.

"Being told the details and that we were going to London for the event was an emotional few hours and there were a few tears from everyone. I've never been so excited for the future."

The YGD awards, which began in 2010, aim to demonstrate the creativity that goes in to game design, and give young people a clearer understanding of careers available in the industry.

Previous entrants have gone on to attract commercial interest, as well as be nominated for the British Academy Games Awards, Bafta's flagship ceremony for the industry.

The YGD winners, chosen by a panel of games professionals, will be revealed at a special awards ceremony at Bafta's London headquarters on Saturday, July 7.