BAFTA has announced the 54 talented finalists, from across the UK, for the 12th nationwide BAFTA Young Game Designers (YGD) competition.

Aysheq Hussain (18) and Niamh MacNamee (16), both from Birmingham, have been shortlisted for the prestigious BAFTA YGD Game Making Award for their games ‘Imagibot - Saves Eden Green’ and ‘Colour Coded’ respectively.

‘Imagibot - Saves Eden Green’ sees players lay as Imagibot, the world's first DNA driven robot, and take on the properties of living organisms to inherit their powers, which they can use to save Eden Green. ‘Colour Coded’ is a platform visual novel set in a dystopian world in which people are categorised based on their natural hair and eye colour.

Aysheq said: “It's great to be a finalist in the 2022 competition and have the chance to enter my game Imagibot - Saves Eden Green, an idea I came up with when I was 12 years old, and won a BAFTA YGD Concept Award for. Having learned the skills I have needed to bring my idea to life has been my most outstanding achievement, and I hope to have demonstrated the wide range of new skills I have learned in game design and development.

“It was good to see that my chosen art style and 2D Platform/3D adventure blended genre came together with fun but varied game mechanics. Creating the main character, the Imagibot, taking it from a concept drawing to a fully textured, rigged low poly game asset whilst trying to instill individuality and charisma in the character was a challenge that I hopefully overcame.

“I think my game prototype proves that my concept works and I have really big hopes for what could be an Imagibots Franchise. It would be incredible to be picked up by a publisher as I really believe that the Imagibot protagonist could be the next big name in the platform adventure game genre.”

Niamh MacNamee said: “It’s exciting to just make it this far into the competition! I’m excited to meet other finalists and discover more opportunities because of this.” BAFTA YGD is a year-round initiative of public events, workshops and a competition for 10-18 year-olds, culminating in the annual YGD award ceremony to celebrate finalists and winners.

This year’s winners will be revealed at a special virtual BAFTA YGD ceremony, taking place on Thursday 30 June 2022 at 17.00 BST. The ceremony will be hosted by actor, TV presenter comedian, Inel Tomlinson.

Over the last five months, 10 to 18 year olds across the country have been harnessing the power of their imaginations to create original concepts and designs for a brand new video game. Entrants have been working both in teams and individually, at home and at school. A virtual jury of industry professionals, chaired by Dr Jo Twist OBE, Jodie Azhar, Nick Button-Brown and Des Gayle, have selected 40 of the most creative, thought-provoking and visually exciting games for this year’s final.

The shortlisted entries demonstrate the creative thinking and artistic prowess that underpins the game-making process, and provide an insight into the bright and exciting future of the British games industry. The jury’s selections shine a light on the thoughts and feelings of young people today, exploring a wide range of thought-provoking and relevant topics including mental health and anxiety, climate change, computer safety, time and space travel, and gender identity, with gender-neutral main characters across many of this year’s entries.

This year’s entries include strategic puzzles to solve, epic quests to undertake, and enemies to defeat, and are compatible with a variety of different platforms including desktop, mobile, games consoles and even Virtual Reality. Further details on all finalists and their games are available here. Games are available on request.

Dr Jo Twist OBE, Chair of the BAFTA Games Committee and CEO of UKIE, said: “Congratulations to all 54 BAFTA Young Designers finalists: each of them deserves the recognition that YGD gives. With the support of our official partners, we are delighted to celebrate the creativity of young people who are passionate about using games to tell stories and create experiences that tackle gender identity, mental health, and climate change.

“An important part of BAFTA’s mission as an arts charity is focusing on emerging talent and YGD has become a major event in the games industry calendar which spotlights some incredibly talented young people, some of whom go on to have careers in the games industry.“

Actor, Comedian and BAFTA YGD host Inel Tomlinson, said: “I am thrilled to be hosting this year's virtual BAFTA Young Game Designers ceremony, where the incredible work of the 54 talented young finalists will be celebrated. All the finalists have brought their A-game with exciting, original and compelling modern interactive experiences that challenge the perception of this medium.

“I am excited to see what these exceptional young designers do next with the support of BAFTA in their future game-making endeavours. This is the future of the British games industry, and I am honoured to be able to usher through their ideas for the wider world to one day experience.”

The 54 shortlisted individuals will compete for the YGD Game Concept Award, split into two categories (10-14 years) and (15-18 years), which will go to the most original and best thought-out game idea, as well as the YGD Game Making Award, also split into 10-14 years and 15-18 years, which celebrates the coding skills used to create a prototype game using freely available software. Winning entries will be judged on gameplay design and their suitability for the chosen games platform, with the aim of supporting accessible career pathways into game design and thus nurturing the future generation of British gamemakers.

Previous winners include Dan Pearce, Emily Mitchell and Spruce Campbell, amongst many others, with recent finalists including the likes of David McIntosh and Ty Rotheram. The BAFTA YGD Ceremony will be streamed on BAFTA’s Kids & Teens YouTube channel, with highlights and clips from the show available to watch on Twitter (@BAFTAGames) and LinkedIn. Tune in on Thursday 30 June at 17.00 BST for the digital ceremony.

2022 winners will be featured in the prestigious Power UP exhibition, alongside some of the very best video games and consoles from the past five decades. Transferring from London’s Science Museum, the exhibition opens in Manchester at the Science and Industry Museum on 18 June, where it will stay open until the end of 2022.

For over a decade, BAFTA YGD has given young people and educators unique access and insights into some of the most creative minds in the industry, through competitions, mentorship, exclusive masterclasses, as well as online workshops, teaching tools, and networking opportunities. Official Partners of BAFTA Young Game Designers include: Creative Assembly, Criterion Games, Epic, Playstation, Tencent Games, Ubisoft, Warner Bros. Games and Wizards of the Coast.