Creative Assembly, whom you may know for creating the Total War franchise, invited local students from West Sussex all-girls school Millais, into their Horsham-based studio and turned their game concepts into reality in a first-of-its-kind game jam!

They created their own game concepts with the students, allowing them to learn about opportunities within fields of science, technology, arts, engineering, and maths (STEAM), through the process of game design. It was hosted in partnership with BAFTA’s Young Game Designers initiative, and it’s the first time Creative Assembly has incorporated student ideas into playable games. FrancoJam is now in its fourth year, but 2018 is the first time it has included an educational part, as part of the studio’s commitment to UK STEAM education via its Legacy Project.

Nine teams of expert developers from Creative Assembly spent an hour sitting down with the 14 year old students to understand their concepts as part of the discovery process. The teams then had 48 hours to create the games, ready for the students and their parents to play – if you’re interested, they also released a video documenting the process, which you can watch below:

Tim Heaton, Creative Assembly’s Studio Director and EVP of Sega Studios, said: “Working with BAFTA, we’ve been able to challenge students’ perceptions of games and give them a valuable first-hand insight into the development process. We know that diversity breeds innovation and we want to inspire more young people from all backgrounds to consider careers in the games industry and to recognise that it is an incredibly creative and professionally rewarding place to be.”

Melissa Phillips, Games Event Producer at BAFTA, said: “It has been fantastic to work alongside Creative Assembly to bring the BAFTA Young Game Designers initiative to Millais School. It is so important to provide visible role models for young people and encourage them to express their creative ideas. We’ve enjoyed helping to connect the students with industry professionals to turn their game concepts into reality.”

Sammi McEwan, Concept Artist at Creative Assembly, said: “Meeting the students from the local girl’s school was a great experience. When I was their age, being in the games industry was my dream so I wanted to share some of my experiences with them and give them some advice. It was fun to meet them and I hope that they liked the game we made.”

Zongyi Chen, Lead Character Artist at Creative Assembly, said: “It was an absolute joy to meet the students at the end and see how pleased they were with what we made for them. This game jam has been such an incredibly positive experience for us and I really hope it has made a difference to how these young people see the industry.”

As the UK continues to face a digital skills gap, with Engineering UK estimating the shortfall of UK engineering graduates to be 20,000, this is a particularly important area to encourage young people to focus on. As well as this, only 8% of the UK’s current engineering workforce are women – the lowest number across the whole of Europe. Creative Assembly’s Legacy Project aims to educate and inspire young people into the industry through a number of initiatives with local schools, leading UK partners like BAFTA and Digital Schoolhouse, and on University-level curriculums, like the East London Academy of Music and Arts.

Sound interesting to you? Let us know in the comments.