Gina Jackson has is currently Head of Games at The Imaginarium, the production company founded by Andy Serkis and Jonathan Cavendish developing films, TV shows, and games. She started her career in the videogames industry in 1992, working in production on a wide variety of games for different developers and publishers, and then moved into business development roles at Nokia, Kuju and Eidos. Passionate about education and diversity, Gina took on roles including Chief Executive of Women in Games and she is also a Visiting Professor in games industry and business at Norwich University of the Arts. Gina’s last role as Managing Director at the NextGen Skills Academy saw her transform the curriculum of games, animation and VFX in FE Colleges as well as the development of new higher level apprenticeship and an award winning women’s mentoring programme.
Stuart Ashen is a comedian from Norwich. His extremely successful YouTube channel “Ashens” boasts well over a million subscribers. He has written two books on video games – Terrible Old Games You’ve Probably Never Heard Of and its follow-up Attack Of The Flickering Skeletons. He also co-wrote and starred in the comedy adventure film Ashens And The Quest For The GameChild.
“I’m very pleased to be an ambassador for the Norwich Gaming Festival. It’s a great event for both gaming enthusiasts and the general public alike – it’s wonderful to have a local event like this.”
Melissa Phillips is the programme producer for BAFTA Games Learning and New Talent Events. Her role sees her produce the BAFTA Young Game Designers Competition (http://ygd.bafta.org) and the BAFTA Crew Games programme as well as BAFTA Game events around the UK.
Melissa has been developing resources and workshops for the BAFTA Young Game Designers (http://ygd.bafta.org/resources) for the last 4 years. Her role sees her interact with students aged 10-18, teachers and parents across the UK, learning first-hand what it is they need to help support them into pursuing careers in the games industry.
BAFTA has seen a surge of enthusiasm in the last few years from young people eager to start a career in games, and game design is fast-becoming a popular lesson choice in classrooms throughout the UK. However, one of the main challenges reported is how to introduce this topic as part of the curriculum, particularly in areas where low digital skills are reported.
“The Norwich Gaming Festival’s learning week has been a great way to talk about career opportunities in games with young people and teachers around Norwich. Our BAFTA Young Game Designer workshops introduce how to find and develop a game concept. We’ve seen some amazing ideas from these workshops and really enjoy the family friendly atmosphere the festival promotes.
It’s great to see regional events like the Norwich Gaming Festival gain attention, as there is a lot of interest in the games industry around the UK but some areas can often be overlooked for events. Finding and developing new talent is very important to the games industry and we hope that events like this will inspire the next generation of game designers!”