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York students win second place in Games Innovation Challenge 2021

Posted on 14 April 2021

A team of undergraduates from the University of York's Department of Computer Science took second place at the Games Innovation Challenge, sponsored by Barclays, a games design competition for UK university students that took place on 8 April.

Games Innovation Challenge logo

The student who led the team of three was Alberto Lee, with the other two members of the team being Sam Whitehead and Daniel Crooks. Their entry ‘Zen Tower’ is a multiplayer physics-based free-for-all competitive brawler.

The Games Innovation Challenge was delivered by NSE (National Student Esports), the official body for university esports in the UK, and presented by Barclays who have a number of supportive initiatives in the games and esports sector.

Students were given nine weeks to create the most innovative game, structured around the theme of competition with the submitted entries being judged against technical quality, look and feel, entertainment, innovation and a competition plan.

More than twenty games were submitted for the final assessment. The work was assessed by an illustrious panel of video games, esports, and technology experts comprising of Dr Jo Twist OBE, CEO Ukie; Will Attwood, Marketing Esports Manager, Ubisoft; Stuart Muckley, CEO, Code Wizards; Steve Augustine, Director of Consumer Software Marketing and Experience, Intel; Matthew Colclough, Esports lead within Barclays Games and Esports Team; and Becky Wright, Social Media & Community Manager, NSE.

Zen Tower by Alberto Lee, Sam Whitehead and Daniel Crooks

The top three successful student teams from University of Birmingham, University of York and University of Arts London will share in the prize pool of £5,000 and more importantly will benefit from the exposure to the judges and wider industry. Plus, the entrants gained from improving both their technical and social skills throughout the process.

NSE exists to elevate students’ university esports experience, helping them now and in their future careers. As the largest grassroots gaming community in the UK, the students have a vast array of interests and future career aspirations. 70% of the students are studying STEM subjects at university making them describe graduates in today’s recruitment market.

Barclays plays a pivotal role in supporting the students and their interest in the games and esports sector. The bank is also a partner of NSE’s leading tournament the British University Esports Championship, as well as sponsoring other esports tournaments such as the UKLC and the ePL.

Barclays Head of Games & Esports, David Gowans said: “We are here to support the esports industry in the best way we can. Working with NSE on the Games Innovation Challenge we can champion and develop the talents this vibrant community has to offer. It’s also a brilliant opportunity for us to learn from them and make sure we are best prepared to deliver for them now and in the future”.

NSE Managing Director, Alex Coulson, added: “Esports is often the number one attraction for our community but we know that their interests and especially their skills often go way beyond this core foundation. The students we see take part in NSE activities are an incredibly talented, enthusiastic, and collaborative collection of young men and women - we are lucky to work with them on a daily basis.”