This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Learn more

Norwich School Blog

Luca Polansky (L5) on reaching the final of the BAFTA Young Game Designers competition

L5 pupil Luca reached the final of the BAFTA Young Game Designers competition this year with his unique game concept, 'Zerophobic'. Set in the psyche of the player's mind, 'Zerophobic' requires players to overcome phobia-centred nightmares to wake up feeling at peace. Luca was one of just 54 finalists across four different categories. We caught up with Luca to hear a little more about the inspiration behind the game and how it feels to be a BAFTA finalist!

"I have always been interested in not only gaming but game design so when a family member mentioned that BAFTA had launched a competition for young game designers I decided to enter the game concept category.  I had many ideas but with so much emphasis currently on mental health awareness I finally decided on phobias as the subject to build my game around.  I researched five of the most common phobias which I then incorporated into a game concept.  In my spare time I had been learning to use Adobe Software and ProCreate so was able to use them to illustrate how my game would look.  I designed it to be used through a virtual reality platform including vivid colours and realistic sound effects for a really exhilarating experience.  At the start of the game the player is facing a corridor of five brightly lit portals each containing a different phobia to overcome.  The challenges must be completed in order to move on to next. If you solve an initial clue you find in your inventory one tool to assist you for each challenge.  On the bottom of the screen there are two corresponding coloured bars that monitor your confidence and anxiety levels.  As you progress through the challenges the level on the confidence bar grows and the anxiety bar diminishes.  By the end of the game if you have successfully completed all the challenges your confidence bar will be full and anxiety empty.  The phobias that are encountered are: acrophobia, arachnophobia, coulrophobia, astraphobia and claustrophobia. 

For my entry I had to provide an overview detailing each level, the rules, goals, challenges and rewards together with what the final game would look like including any effects.  I also submitted some artwork to help bring the game to life. 

To be shortlisted as a finalist is amazing.  Seeing myself in the EDP and being interviewed on BBC Look East was a bit nerve-racking but it was really interesting to see behind the scenes so a great experience.  Moving on as a finalist I am invited with the other finalists to BAFTA headquarters in London Piccadilly next month to meet with games industry experts and showcase my game.  There is also a series of masterclasses and digital mentorship covering production, audio, animation, coding and careers advice from industry experts which I'm really looking forward to access and learn more about furthering my knowledge and experience of game design. Being nominated as a finalist is a huge privilege and I'm excited to see where it leads me."