Future Experience Points (FXP) festival, a computer game concept and development competition for school and college students, makes its return this year following a successful regional pilot in 2016. The festival, which takes place at Cambridge Regional College from 24th – 26th June 2017, is open to students from across the country, providing them with first-hand experience of games development and a valuable insight into what a career in the creative digital industry can offer. FXP founder, Alison Taylor, looks back on the success of last year’s festival and what students can look forward to in 2017.
When we first embarked on this journey back in 2015, we had a clear vision: to give school and college students, aged 14-19 years, a platform to develop their programming and design skills and to provide students with a snapshot of the careers available in the creative digital sector. The competition signup opened early in 2016 and we didn’t anticipate just how much interest we would receive, not only from schools wanting to get involved but also from businesses keen to lend their support.
Start of the FXP event at Cambridge Regional College. June 25 2016. Matthew Power Photography
24 teams, totalling 120 students, from schools and colleges across Cambridgeshire took part in the pilot festival. By opening up the competition to the rest of the country in 2017 we are hoping to attract at least 60 teams – we are already well on the way to achieving this number!
We also received backing from major industry players including ARM, Jagex, and PlayStation. Financial and in-kind support from companies is crucial so that schools and colleges can attend FXP for free. Plus we need industry experts on hand to provide participating students and their teachers with advice and mentoring over the two days. For businesses, there is a real opportunity to give something back to the community while inspiring the next generation of would-be engineers, game developers and technology professionals.
Jagex has once again kindly pledged its support for the festival and we’re thrilled to have them on board. Design Director, Mark Ogilvie explains why it is important for Jagex to support initiatives like FXP:
For many students, a career in the games industry seems an unreachable goal. FXP festival helps both students and teachers to understand the skill sets required in both programming and design, and how the syllabus might be modified to better teach those skills. It motivates them to really understand and learn those skills at a far earlier age, generating a better quality of future employee. It is a sad fact that many still see games as a waste of time, they don’t see the reality that it is an industry bigger than music and film combined in this country, with top class talent within it. Games and gamification can change the world, and Cambridge and the South East are at the front of the charge in the UK. Projects like FXP can only strengthen that charge.
FXP is closely linked to the computer science curriculum. As well as supporting students, we also want to help teachers deliver the curriculum by connecting them with experts in technology and game development. It is well documented that some teachers lack confidence and the necessary skills to teach computer sciences especially when it comes to giving students hands-on development experience. Through FXP, we have created an online forum – Cambridge Games – that connects teachers with industry experts to share knowledge, best practice, resources and ideas so that teachers can further their knowledge and skills.
We are already seeing the positive impact that last year’s FXP has had on teachers and students. Neil Matthews, Teacher at North Cambridge Academy, says that as a result of the festival, his computer science class is oversubscribed.
There is still time for schools to register their interest and, of course, we would welcome any support from businesses and organisations who would be keen to get involved with this great event. For more information, visit http://www.fxpfestival.com/.