From left to right: Students Alannis Davis, Joshua Yeadon, Rane Frederiksen-Billett, Gavin Pennegan and Aneesa Alberg flanked by Teacher Shantell Harewood, after receiving their prizes. (Photo: Ministry of Innovation Science and Smart Technology)

A team of sixth form students of the Harrison College has demonstrated outstanding innovation, creativity and a commitment to “change the game”, ultimately emerging as the winners of the inaugural GameChangers Innovation Awards competition.

The Innovation Awards, a national ideas competition which was launched by the Ministry of Innovation Science and Smart Technology (MIST) in March 2020, is intended to foster greater levels of innovation and creative enterprise in the nation’s youth by allowing for teams from schools across Barbados, to submit a concept for a mobile video game.

The competition, the first of its kind, received overwhelming interest from hundreds of students from various educational institutions but ultimately the finals saw five teams vying for top pick. Notably, Harrison College was the lone school with multiple entries and the school’s three teams all made it to the finals.

Following the pitch component of the competition, during which the five finalist teams were required to present their concepts to a panel of judges, the Harrison College team of students Alannis Davis, Aneesa Alberg, Gavin Pennegan, Joshua Yeadon and Rane Frederiksen-Billett and teacher Ms. Shantell Harewood, confidently secured first place earning a prize of $20,000 for their school, $5,000 each and the opportunity to collaborate with international gaming company Unanimous Games to develop their game concept ‘Prides of Barbados’ and create a video game to be available for download.

The Alexandra School’s team of students Shania Griffith-Herbert, Joshua Gajadhar, Javier Husbands and Sierra Hurley supported by teacher Wayne Porte, snagged 2nd place and a prize of $5,000 for the team.

Speaking on the heels of the presentation of prizes to the Harrison College team on Wednesday, May 12th, the school’s Principal Juanita Wade indicated that she was ecstatic and very proud of the achievements of the students.

“Since the winners are working with international developers to bring the game to the public, we recognize that the benefits to these students will continue to accrue for years to come. We hope that others will be motivated to get involved in such projects in the future as we teach our students to be innovative and resilient especially in this COVID-19 environment where almost everything can be made available online.

Minister of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology, Senator Kay McConney also took the opportunity to elaborate on the Ministry’s commitment to providing innovative opportunities for the youth, especially those steeped in technology.

“We saw GameChangers as an opportunity for us to get young people involved in the mobile gaming industry and expose them to nontraditional ventures and skills. We called on them to be creative in conceptualizing an idea but we then supported them by providing expert training and mentorship so they could advance their game from a concept to an actual game that is developed all the way to the market and they can learn both the technical and business aspects of game development.”

She added that in light of the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, it is imperative that we create and explore new frontiers especially those in tech spaces, as a significant part of an economic recovery plan and the GameChangers competition will therefore be staged annually.  

“The gaming industry alone is over $150 billion dollars of which almost 50% of that is from mobile games so we cannot ignore that tech business is very lucrative globally and can be pivotal in bolstering our economy.”

Over the next few weeks, the winning team will continue to be put through the paces by the international team at Unanimous Games, as they engage in immersive workshops and excitedly get “Prides of Barbados” ready for market.

Ministry of Innovation, Science and Smart Technology

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