Meet the ringmaster for the FXP Festival’s weekend of gaming

PUBLISHED: 14:44 08 June 2018 | UPDATED: 14:44 08 June 2018

Students from Parkside school in Cambridge visiting Jagex are, from left, Adam Biltcliffe, Mathematics and Computing teacher, Parkside; Joshua Ball (aged 15), Klara Kangametsa (aged 14), Douglas Tennant (aged 14),plus Mark Ogilivie, Design Director, Jagex.

Students from Parkside school in Cambridge visiting Jagex are, from left, Adam Biltcliffe, Mathematics and Computing teacher, Parkside; Joshua Ball (aged 15), Klara Kangametsa (aged 14), Douglas Tennant (aged 14),plus Mark Ogilivie, Design Director, Jagex.

ILIFFE

Jagex design director Mark Ogilvie on the July 7-9 competition for schools and colleges

Mark Ogilvie, design director at Jagex, is a huge fan of the Science Park firm's support for the gaming festival. Picture: Keith HeppellMark Ogilvie, design director at Jagex, is a huge fan of the Science Park firm's support for the gaming festival. Picture: Keith Heppell

The annual FXP Festival for schools and college students may start on July 7 but the effects last a lot longer than the initial buzz, as Parkside’s ‘No Spoon’ team found out last week.

The winning team in last year’s game concept and development competition’s Level 1 Development category visited Jagex’s Science Park home on Wednesday for some mentoring and user testing.

The team met games designers and developers as well as being given a full tour of the base.

Hosted annually by Cambridge Regional College, FXP delivers a thrilling hands-on game development experience involving students with a wide range of abilities, from those experienced in coding to individuals more interested in the creative concept and artistry of game design.

Chloe Langford & teacher Neil Matthews of 
North Cambridge Academy, Arbury Road, Cambridge. The Academy has a team in the annual FXP Festival.  Picture: Keith HeppellChloe Langford & teacher Neil Matthews of North Cambridge Academy, Arbury Road, Cambridge. The Academy has a team in the annual FXP Festival. Picture: Keith Heppell

Over the course of the festival weekend (July 7 to 9), teams of students, aged 13 to 19 (Years 8 to 13, and FE), are tasked with designing an original computer game concept, based on a surprise theme announced on the day.

FXP Festival is supported by the Cambridge Independent and major companies in the region’s technology and creative digital sectors, which provide expertise, mentoring and coaching to students and their teachers. Supporters in 2017 included Amazon, Anglia Ruskin University, Jagex, Microsoft, ARM, Hacklab, Rizing Games and Cambridge Regional College.

Jagex’s contribution to the event is orchestrated by design director Mark Ogilvie, who has played a key role in the festival’s success since its inception in 2016.

“Supporting FXP is enormously important for us at Jagex as part of our community work, but also from a recruitment perspective,” says Mark. “As well as helping out with mentoring and judging during the festival weekend, we are always pleased to offer ‘an afternoon at Jagex’ as the first place prize for each of the four competition categories.

“It is fantastic to be able to inspire creative minds as young as 13 or 14, and to give them an insight into careers in the games development industry. We look forward to welcoming the winners of FXP Festival 2018 this July.”

Mark in person is as enthusiastic about FXP as he sounds.

“The teams are made up of four or five people, and there’s 60 team spaces for schools and colleges all across East Anglia,” he says of the participants, who apply on a first-come first-served basis.

The festival’s third year could be its busiest. “Every year the interest grows. Games jams are a test bed for creativity and this rapid working frenzy comes up with interesting ideas.

“Each group is accompanied by an adult, often their technology teacher, though they’re not usually directly involved with the jam.”

Mark’s own leaning is towards design: he is keen to reassure entrants that this competition has prizes for both coding and for game concepts.

“To work in the games industry doesn’t mean that you have to write code, there’s a huge amount of other skills – including artwork, music, story-boarding and game management – they can get involved with.”

One of the joys of the FXP Festival is the input of new ideas from an up-and-coming generation. FXP shares this adrenalin-fuelled sense of adventure with older sibling Brains Eden. Now in its tenth year, Brains Eden is the world’s largest international student games jam and it takes place at ARU this year from July 13 to 16.

It is all about the buzz – and the prizes at FXP include visits to Jagex and ARU’s REACTOR base, free game downloads, plus tickets to EGX at Birmingham’s NEC and to the V&A Videogames exhibition. But more than that there is also the sense that, with FXP success, you are opening a door beyond to not just a job, but a calling.

“We come up with things on the day,” says Mark of the occasion. “I’ll introduce the event, tell the participants what they’ll be doing, we’ll have a big meeting on the first day to work out where you’ll be working and who with, get introduced to each other, and I’ll spend half an hour with each group. That way I can help them pitch the ideas they’ll focus on. We’re there to be mentors, to help them along the way.”

If your business, school or college is interested in getting involved contact Joanna Colley at joanna.colley@consciouscomms.com.

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