Let’s talk about FXP
Future Experience Points (FXP) is an exciting new computer game concept and development competition and festival for school and college students. The inaugural FXP festival will be staged at Cambridge Regional College from Saturday 25th – Monday 27th June and will give young people exciting hands-on game development experience and insight into what careers in the creative digital industry offer. Alison Taylor, Managing Director of Conscious Communications and one of the partners responsible for planning and staging the pilot in Cambridge, speaks about the motivations behind the competition and what they are hoping to achieve over the weekend and beyond.
For the past eight years, Brains Eden – the UK’s largest student games festival – has been held annually at Anglia Ruskin University here in Cambridge. Brains Eden gives university students the opportunity to gain real industry experience and showcase their gaming talent. Whilst Brains Eden has been hugely successful and grown in popularity over the years there was no equivalent forum for students in school and further education colleges to discover the creative games industry for themselves – until now.
We realised that with Computer Science now a compulsory subject on the National Curriculum and a shortage of skilled people qualified to work in the rapidly expanding technology sector, an event, running in parallel to Brains Eden, where school and college children are encouraged to explore the possibility of a career in the creative digital sector, and where teachers are supported in developing their own knowledge and skills, would help to fill a gap; the idea for Future Experience Points was conceived.
With this in mind, we approached and subsequently partnered with Rizing Games founder, Michael Warburton, to bring FXP to fruition. Our motivation was to help students and teachers get the most from the Computer Science curriculum, whilst providing a support for students who wouldn’t otherwise have exposure to the industry. Conscious Communications and Rizing Games are determined to give children a rewarding, hands-on experience and hopefully foster an interest in a career in technology.
The Greater Cambridgeshire and Greater Peterborough Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) provided us with the initial funding we needed to get FXP off the ground and we have since received sponsorship from a number of businesses, including ARM, Unity, YOYO Games, Cambridge University Press, Anglia Ruskin University, Hacklab and Jagex. We are extremely fortunate that prominent businesses in the technology industry share in our vision for FXP and will be here to provide expertise, mentoring and coaching to participating students and their teachers over the weekend.
Having approached schools and colleges in Cambridgeshire with the FXP concept, we now have 23 teams attending from across the region and a total of over 100 students participating. Over the weekend the students will be working in teams of four or five to either design or build (or both) an original idea for a game for mobile platform based around a theme they will not find out until the festival begins. The participants will be assisted by industry mentors and will also have the opportunity to attend workshops and talks run by our sponsoring companies.
Our hope for FXP, and the long-term goal, is to roll the initiative out nationwide and beyond. Our vision is to have schools and colleges from across Europe and further afield participating remotely with finalists visiting Cambridge to compete in the live festival and competition. We want to inspire young people to adopt a real passion for technology and aspire to a career in the creative digital industry.
All the games designed and produced from FXP will be showcased at Cambridge’s Big Weekend on Parkers Piece on Saturday 9 July.
Photos: Matthew Power