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WATCH: Why video games are about more than just fun

Visitors got to try out virtual reality games at Game Anglia 2018  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Visitors got to try out virtual reality games at Game Anglia 2018 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

To many, it might seem like just a bit of fun while idling away a few hours trying to conquer a universe or reach the next level.

But a major free computer gaming showcase at the University of Suffolk demonstrated that video games are not only entertaining, but also offer huge business and career opportunities for people in the county.

The university hosted the second Game Anglia 2018 conference at its Waterfront building in response to the growing popularity of computer programming courses in Ipswich.

Organisers said student numbers in the town have risen exponentially in recent years, as the growth of augmented reality (AR) and games on people’s smartphones have made the industry more accessible than ever before.

But the challenge has been keeping Ipswich’s video gaming talent in town, as gifted programmers seek opportunities in London or elsewhere.

Bradley Smith and Tom Andrews, creators of the game RUYA  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNBradley Smith and Tom Andrews, creators of the game RUYA Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

So Game Anglia organisers picked Ipswich for the event on Saturday, November 10 to give people from across the region the chance to get advice from experts, as well as show off their latest inventions at the Big Free Gaming Day - to demonstrate there is a growing gaming community in Suffolk.

Chris Filip, founder of Game Anglia, said: “We’re trying, through Game Anglia, to show there is stuff happening here.

“We need to give game producers a reason to stay in Ipswich.

“If we want people to come to study in Ipswich, we need the people who are making the games staying here.”

Game Anglia conference 2018 at the University of Suffolk  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNGame Anglia conference 2018 at the University of Suffolk Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

He highlighted the diverse range of games on offer at the conference, including a game designed to raise awareness of dementia called Forget Me Not.

“There are a lot of games here that are about a lot more than just fun,” he said.

“It’s a matter of understanding your target audience.”

Brad Smith, who created the game Ruya with Tom Andrews, was born and bred in Ipswich and graduated from the University of Suffolk in 2013.

Key note speaker at Game Anglia 2018 , Bill Roper Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNKey note speaker at Game Anglia 2018 , Bill Roper Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Asked whether there are enough career opportunities for budding computer game programmers, he said: “I feel there weren’t, but I see it growing because of the gaming courses.

“Slowly students are making games and slowly the scene is growing.

“This was something I always wanted to do. It’s a creative outlet for me to express myself, in the same way a musician or painter would.”

Andy Green, senior technical artist at Bossa Studios, one of the speakers at the event, added: “Having left the region for London to begin my journey in the games industry seven years ago, I’m really excited to speak at Game Anglia and to play a small part in shining an industry spotlight much closer to home.”

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