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Students to launch indy games studio after winning enterprise competition

A new independent games studio is starting up in Norwich after a group of students won Brainchild, the Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) annual student enterprise competition, yesterday evening. Split Path Studio has been formed by a core team of six students from NUA’s BA Games Art and Design course – with additional freelance assistance from BA Animation students – with the aim of advancing video games as an artistic medium as well as a form of entertainment.

Student team winning Brainchild 2013

Split Path Studio collect their winner’s certificate (L-R): David Allan, Jonathan Pace, Kai Creedon, Chair of the judging panel Simon De-Lacy Adams, Vice-Chancellor of NUA Professor John Last, Ross Parke, Dexter Camilleri, Dominic Littler.

Marie-Claire Isaaman, Course Leader of BA Games Art and Design at NUA, says: “The business and professional skills focus of the BA Games Art and Design course at NUA was undoubtedly helpful in the development of the students’ entry for Brainchild and they’ve been very dedicated in their application. The University will look to support them in the launch of their business.”

The studio has already started development on its flagship title – ‘The Wanderer: Tears of Irrigo’ is described as a side-scrolling 3D platformer which puts the player in the place of Zoe, a lone protagonist stranded on a foreign planet after her ship is wrecked in a storm.

“Our goal is to create content with an emphasis on player choice, which will engage and immerse the audience, whilst building a narrative that will evoke thought about our medium,” says Jonathan Pace, the team’s Lead Producer. “The details of the story change according to the player’s actions and decisions. With this game we hope to subvert the expectations that players have of traditional action/adventure games.”

As the first placed winner the studio will launch with £1,000 of funding plus free membership of the Norfolk Network and £4,000 worth of business mentoring from the competition’s supporters who are Simon De-Lacy Adams, Partner at chartered accountants Lovewell Blake; Will Farrow, Creative Partner of Farrows design agency; Tom Parsley, Director at web design agency Selesti; James Tarling, Principal with solicitors Steeles Law; Lucy Marks, Managing Director of Norfolk Network; Tom Wood Partner at Norwich based experience design company Foolproof; and Simon Coward, Director at Hethel Engineering Centre.

Simon De-Lacy Adams has been involved with the competition since the beginning and this year chaired the judging panel. He comments: “Since its inception Brainchild has shown a rich diversity of concepts that are a credit to the students and University. I never cease to be amazed.”

Further business mentoring will also be provided to the second placed entrant Clare Vickers, whose ‘Shelf Life’ range of home-made, 100% natural moisturizers are made with only four ingredients, and third placed Danielle Neal, who has pioneered a service to transform treasured memorabilia, travelogues, collections and textiles into highly personal and original heirlooms. Other enterprising entries this year included a t-shirt design business, a neon lighting business and a bespoke painting business.

Now in its fifth year, Brainchild is an annual business concept competition open to all students and recent graduates of the University’s 10 undergraduate and seven postgraduate creative disciplines. Since January entrants have been attending workshops run by Brainchild’s business mentors on specific topics relating to business start-up to help them develop their ideas and competition entries.

Past winning concepts have included a fabric screen printed with iconic buildings of Norwich; cushion and upholstery designs derived from the 200-year-old patterns of the Strangers of Norwich; and a range of bespoke wall art incorporating light.

NUA Careers Advisor Richard Peat, who oversees the competition, explains: “The Brainchild competition provides a great opportunity for students to get input from experienced business leaders on how to develop their business ideas including one to one support on the practical aspects of business planning and development. This year’s entries are of a great quality and it was clear from the applications that students and graduates had attended the workshops led by the business mentors, demonstrating how important these sessions are in helping them to develop their business ideas.”

Student coming second in Brainchild 2013

Clare Vickers, second placed in Brainchild 2013

Student coming third in Brainchild 2013

Danielle Neal, third placed in Brainchild 2013

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