Barclays NSE

NSE And Barclays Renew Partnership And Announce An Expanded Games Innovation Challenge

December 3, 2021

After a successful year-long partnership over the 2020/2021 academic year, Barclays and NSE (National Student Esports), the official body for university esports in the UK and the most active grassroots gaming community in the country, have renewed their partnership. Barclays commitment to grassroots games and esports will see the bank sponsor the British University Esports Championships (BUEC) and the second Games Innovation Challenge, which will take place in 2022.

In the 2020/21 season, BUEC saw over 1,700 teams from 100 universities compete across a number of esports titles and this year’s championship, which is currently ongoing, has already seen a significant rise in numbers signing up to compete. 

Meanwhile, the Games Innovation Challenge, a games development competition for students across the UK to test their skills and creativity, is expanding in its second year, to allow even more students to take part across a wider range of categories, with applications opening in January.

Previously, the competition was only eligible for university students, however going forward, the competition is open to college students aged 16 and over. Plus, five new award categories have been introduced for 2022 which are Gameplay, Design, Social Impact, and two platform awards which are the Unity Choice Award and the Epic Choice Award where the best games developed on the respective platforms will be selected.

Starting in January, participants will have nine weeks to create the most innovative games with the chance to win across the five categories for a part of the prize pool totalling £5,000. The winner for the best game overall will receive £2,500. 

For the Gameplay Award, the games will be judged on the most original concept, excellent storytelling and enjoyable gameplay. Design elements will be judged from sound, art style, graphics, and technical quality to win the Design Award. As for the Social Impact category, purpose must be at the heart of the game and could tackle difficult issues such as promoting environmental sustainability or considering accessibility.

A panel of gaming and esports industry experts will be judging the entries on the five categories and the overall innovation of each submission.

Teams can be formed of students from different universities or colleges and can also contain non-students. However, to participate in the challenge, the majority of the team and the project lead must be enrolled at a university or college. Any platform and prebuilt assets can be used, provided that they have the permission or license to do so.

Alex Coulson, Managing Director, NSE, said:

“We’re so pleased to renew our partnership with Barclays and to see the Games Innovation Challenge return after such a successful competition earlier this year. The expansion to include college students is especially exciting and will add to a pool of an already talented group of students. 

“We’re grateful to have Barclays’ support to give opportunities to champion and develop the diverse student community. The games submitted in the 2021 challenge surpassed our expectations and we can’t wait to see what games are designed next year.”

David Gowans, Head of Games and Esports, Barclays, added:

“We are excited to continue our partnership with NSE. The success of the first Games Innovation Challenge helped to highlight the calibre of future developer talent the UK has to offer. Continuing to work with NSE on its second iteration, with the prospect of bringing in a wider range of participants, gives us an even greater opportunity to continue our support of the growing games and esports industries, from the grassroots up.”

Barclays NSE