Updated: Apr 7
Come 6’o’clock on a Friday, most people are winding down from work for the weekend. But, for the students taking part in this years’ Brains Eden Festival, the hard work has just begun.
The festival sees students from around the globe gather in the heart of picturesque Cambridge to compete in a forty-eight-hour game jam, hosted by Anglia Ruskin University. Professionals from across the Industry are here present, not just to judge the final products, but also to offer guidance and present a series of talks.
I arrived in Cambridge after a 4am start and a six-hour coach journey; dishevelled and groggy. But seeing Jagex on the agenda brought a smile to my face. I reminisced to the summer of 2005, when I discovered RuneScape and didn’t leave the house for weeks, eventually leading my poor mum to literally kick me out every day between 11am and 4pm. I still blame RuneScape for my skin not being acclimated to the sun, not that I needed reminding given the glorious (if somewhat stifling) weather this weekend.
The aforementioned talks programme kicked off the afternoon, after team registration. Industry experts, Jon Torrens, Chris Rares and Julia Kenny delivered a trio of presentations that equipped participants with invaluable knowledge on marketing, pitching and presenting games.
First up was Jon Torrens, a Communications Coach. Cutting his teeth as a stand-up comic, as well as experience in the Games Industry, he is one of those rare-breeds who is comfortable talking in front of an audience. Even without knowledge of his background, his delivery was enough to qualify him to be telling us how to pitch- not only your game, but yourself. Humorous and knowledgeable, his presentation was notably on-brand.
Next in the line-up was Chris Rares of Game Anglia. Drawing of 7 years worth of Games Jam experience in one form or another, the more competitive amongst the students were taking particular heed of his presentation.
Along with a detailed and witty presentation about how to pitch to a company via a slide-deck, Julia Kenny (of Jagex) did address the issue of ‘the crunch’ within the UK games industry, noting “to say it’s fine would be reductive, but it’s definitely improving.” She did note that she wasn’t aware of any problems regarding crunch times at Jagex.
StoryLab also introduced a new category Best Story-telling Award, along with the three existing awards for Best Game Concept, Best Game Artwork, and Jammer of the Year.
After a short break (and a Mexican Wave, as per Brains Eden tradition), students congregated once again to hear the grand reveal of the Game Jam theme – which was ‘Chain Reaction’. A brilliantly multifaceted theme, which can be interpreted visually or conceptually- I can’t wait to see what the teams make of it.