Norwich video games festival draws players to city

The Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

A festival aimed at entertaining the public and raising the profile of the gaming industry in Norwich has kicked off in the city.

The Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Lee Jennings with some of his gaming collec

The Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Lee Jennings with some of his gaming collections from the seventies. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Norwich Gaming Festival returned for its second year in partnership with The Forum to strengthen the city's growing reputation as a digital technology cluster.

The free event, which started yesterday, will include workshops, talks and children's activities in a week-long celebration of the innovation, entertainment and educational power of gaming.

Robin Silcock, a key organiser of the event and co-founder of games business Insert Imagination, said gaming stood out from other medium as a means of engagement.

'Books tell you what's happening, films show you want's happening – games ask you what's happening,' she said. 'Because they engage people so well they can be used in lots of different contexts.'

The Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Christopher Pitts, 8, concentrates. Picture

The Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Christopher Pitts, 8, concentrates. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015


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Educational games, including ones requiring players to use their spatial awareness or solve a problem, will feature alongside a new period of the festival dedicated to industry and business entrepreneurs in the sector.

A group of four volunteers was behind the organising of the festival, said Miss Silcock, who added that funding and talent was an issue in Norfolk.as a whole.

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'The big gap at the moment in the process is a lot of people are graduating from university and then moving out,' she said.

'The festival is about getting Norwich more on the map.'

The Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Norwich University of the Arts (NUA) has a growing video games design course, which has trebled in applications since the 23-year-old studied there, she said.

Visitors to the festival got their thumbs to the buttons as the first games got under way.

Lee Jennings, who had a stall at the festival, said the city had needed an event like this for some time.

'This event is a long time coming – over the last 15 years the gaming industry has changed and is now more accessible and not shunned,' said Mr Jennings. 'It enables people to see how gaming has really changed.'

The Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Retro TVs for the retro games. Picture: DEN

The Norwich Gaming Festival gets under way at the Forum. Retro TVs for the retro games. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

Retro games which were no longer readily available in stores were proving especially popular, he added. 'People love it because they've never played these games and the older ones grab people's attention,' said Mr Jennings.

George Beard, a lecturer in Games Art and Design at NUA, said Norwich was on its way to becoming a hub for video gaming but more work was still to be done.

'More availability of funding would help,' he said.

Are you planning an unusual festival? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

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