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28 June 2024

Edinburgh College students develop video games for national charities to help young people navigate life’s challenges

A group of Edinburgh College students recently used their tech skills to create of a series of video games for two national charities, with the aim of helping young people across the country learn and develop the tools to effectively navigate challenging situations and make better life choices.

The HND Computer Games Development students worked in partnership with national charities Fast Forward and the RLNI (Royal National Lifeboat Institution) to develop a range of games inspired by the experiences of a group of local young people.

The interactive games draw on a range of different real-life scenarios and are designed so young people can act out and practice their responses to situations that may involve alcohol, drugs, smoking, or other risk-taking behaviours, to give them the tools and vocabulary to address these situations in real life, with the aim of helping to decrease the negative impact these temptations can have on young people across Scotland.

Edinburgh College HND Games Development student Oscar Maestre said: “It was a great experience for me to make something out of my passion, videogames and videogame design, that may help and have a real impact in younger generations”.

The inspiration for the games came from feedback from workshops led by Fast Forward, that were designed to allow local young people to explore challenging situations that may involve alcohol, drugs, smoking, or other risk-taking behaviours.

The College students then took this feedback to the next level, developing interactive games, to give young people across the country the opportunity to explore and experience the impact of their choices within the safe environment provided by the games.

Edinburgh College HND Games Development student Georgia Cairns said: “Working with FastForward has been such a rewarding experience. Not only has it given me some real-world experience working with a client to brief, which is a fantastic addition to my education, but it has also allowed me to create something that has the potential to make a genuine positive impact on the lives of young people in Scotland.”

The games will form part of Fast Forward and the RNLI’s offering going forward, meaning they will be used as part of the educational workshops they deliver to give young people the skills, education and support to make informed decisions, and take a harm-reduction approach towards living healthier lives.

HND Computer Games Development students Oscar Maestre and Georgia Cairns attended the annual Fast Forward Festival of Peer Inspiration event at the College’s Milton Road Campus earlier this month to unveil their games to staff, partners and young people, including West Lothian Council’s Skills Development programme.

The games were exhibited for the first time at the Edinburgh College Games Expo at CodeBase in Edinburgh on 28 May, as part of the College’s annual Glow Festival and will soon be added to the Peer Inspiration Projects Scotland website.

Fast Forward Chief Executive Allie Cherry-Byrnes said: “It has been fantastic to work with Edinburgh College’s HND Computer Games Development students and draw on their skills. For the young people on the course to support other young people in the creation of an innovative and impactful peer education / inspiration resource has been a really positive development of our ‘Own It’ programme.

“The students took a basic script and storyboard created by a group of young people on West Lothian Council’s Skills Development Programme. The result is ‘Dangerous Shores’ interactive digital games focusing on risk taking behaviours and water safety, enabling players to test their decision making in a safe and supported environment. 

The decisions players make during the main game and mini games will determine what happens to their character. I really appreciated the team’s attention to detail to the original script to ensure that the young people who created it, recognised their story and voices in the game”.

Edinburgh College Computing lecturer Nigel Kennington said: “This has been a fantastic project for all involved. The students get to experience the intricacies of dealing with clients in the Creative Industries, Fast Forward gain more resources to add to their already excellent portfolio and the young people get to see their authentic experience valued, amplified, and shared in a medium they are passionate about – video games.”