REACTOR challengers win first Big Games Pitch to progress to next round

Published: 13 June 2017 at 11:04


On Wednesday 31 May the five teams participating in the Big Games Challenge attended the first Big Games Pitch. In the morning the teams – made up of individuals and representatives from SMEs from across the Cambridgeshire/Peterborough region – met with the Big Games Challenge (BGC) Mentors to discuss and refine their concepts and pitches, and to prepare for the judges’ questions that would follow.

The theme for BGC 2017 is Exploring Local Culture and Heritage, and challengers are invited to consider the different opportunities and frustrations that people face, whether as visitors to local sites of interest, hospitality sector workers, or local residents, and what could be done through harnessing the power of applied games to solve problems and enhance experiences.

Keynote speaker, Alessandra Caggiano, e-Luminate Cambridge Artistic Director & Founder, shared her experience of developing the e-Luminate festival after realising that, despite tourism presenting the local region with enormous opportunities, there were three gaps in the market. She explained that while inundated with tourists, many don’t stay overnight, and the number of visitors is inconsistent throughout the year, with January and February being much quieter for the hospitality and tourism sector. Caggiano highlighted that despite having a worldwide reputation, people are unaware of so many of the region’s attractions, explaining: “each of us is carrying around a product made right here in Cambridge – the chips in our mobile phones were produced by Cambridge firm ARM; and did you know that Cambridge’s Mid-Summer Fair is one of the oldest fun-fairs in the world?”. The e-Luminate festival was devised to showcase both the region’s better known, and also lesser known, cultural, historical, technological and artistic sights, lit up at night. The festival is now in its fifth year.

In the afternoon the challengers pitched their concepts to the judging panel, as well as to representatives from the tourism sector, gaming experts, and potential users of the products, before receiving constructive feedback on their concepts’ usability and implementation. The pitches featured virtual reality, augmented reality, simulation and multi-player based experiences that could be accessed via games consoles, mobiles, and computers, and each of the concepts was conceived to solve an issue surrounding access to and engagement with the region’s tourist, heritage, and scientific sights and exhibitions. All five participants convinced the judges of the merits of their concepts and earned a place on the next stage of the challenge – the Concept Development Weekend, taking place on 7 July 2017.

Members of the now-expanding gamification cluster from all sides praised the challenge for offering substantial opportunity to the region. Technology Mentor, Antony Quinn, reflected on what he felt to be an exciting time for the Cambridgeshire/Peterborough region:

“REACTOR is a great idea and we need to draw on that resource and create connections to do good work; people need to be encouraged to get over inertia – so many people want to create innovative solutions but don’t have a viable route to do so – now they do. In other sectors opportunities already exist for innovation, and it’s so important to have these similar opportunities for gamification and creative tech.”

The next step for the challengers is the Concept Development Weekend in July, when they will be able to access Anglia Ruskin University’s expertise and facilities, and begin to develop their concepts. 

For information about upcoming opportunities and ways to get involved with REACTOR or the Big Games Challenge please visit our Get involved page.