CASE STUDY

Encouraging Diversity
in Games Industry

Achievements

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1,000

Over 1,000 students reached annually
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507

Young women took part in 2023
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84%

Young people developed their critical thinking skills

OBJECTIVE

To design and deliver a bespoke programme that would raise the profile of the gaming industry as an aspirational career, as well as improve diversity in the sector:

  • 01. Contribute to widening participation, diversity and inclusion in the games industry, by engaging with those currently under-represented groups.
  • 02. Promote the Sumo Digital Academy, the UK’s first games industry apprenticeship programme recognised by the government and the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education
  • 03. Encourage and signpost young people towards further organisations and resources which could help develop their industry skills and experience.
  • 04. Develop and pilot new approaches for identifying, nurturing and progressing young talent through education and into the games industry.

Background

Sheffield-based Sumo Group is one of the UK’s largest providers of end-to-end creative and co-development services to the video games and entertainment industries. The group came to us as it wanted to raise awareness of career opportunities in the communities surrounding its sites in Sheffield, Coventry and Brighton, particularly among groups under-represented in the sector. These include people of colour and from low-income families, plus women – only 26 per cent of UK technology industry staff are female.

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Approach

We designed the Sumo Game Pitch Challenge, an innovative annual programme lasting from September to July, which began in 2017. Each new academic year involves students in Year 8, aged 12 and 13, at five schools across each of the three areas.

The programme begins with speeches by inspirational guests to full Year 8 groups at all participating schools, so every student hears about the games industry and the pathways into it.

There’s then a series of activities, involving smaller groups of the young people, designed to identify and support those who are the most engaged, deliver the best performances, and demonstrate the greatest potential. These elements become progressively more immersive and intensive as the project unfolds, so the most promising students receive the maximum opportunities to develop their skills and experience.

These subsequent activities include a:

  • Game Development Bootcamp, attended by 90 engaged young people from each school.
  • Prototyping Project, involving 30 high potential students from each school.
  • Visit to Sumo’s studios and a celebration event, to which the 25 best performing young people from across the programme are invited.
REAL WORLD RESULTS

How Cameron won the Sumo Digital Games Challenge & a BAFTA!

See the spotlight

84%

Developed creative thinking & design skills

83%

Understood about jobs in gaming

I think the programme is the best it has been. Getting students to communicate, plan and work together outside timetabled lessons is a set of skills they’ve developed that will help them going forward. Quite a few students have volunteered to help me run a GameMaker lunchtime club in September.

Computer Science Teacher and Curriculum leader, Ecclesfield School, Sheffield

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