“Grand final” of the first cycle of the “Playing Narratives” program

The "Playing Narratives" program kicked off in late March this year, when an open call was published for the young creatives. This month, for twenty-three young creatives from all over Serbia, who have been selected from among 200 applicants, an exciting 8-month journey through the world of video game development is coming to an end!

The Playing Narratives program began in late March this year, when an open call was issued for creative writers, illustrators and comic artists, animators, digital modelers and sound designers – to join an informal educational program that will introduce them to the realm of video game creation. The idea was to connect them with the leading industry experts from Serbia, France and Germany, and in addition to the three partner organizations which initiated the project, it was quickly recognized by the Franco-German Cultural Fund, as well as a number of domestic gaming companies, which supported and actively participated in its implementation.

This month, an exciting 8-month journey through the world of video game development is coming to an end for 23 young creatives from all over Serbia, who were selected from among 200 registered candidates and led by the Institut Francais and the Goethe-Institut in Serbia together with the SGA, with the support of numerous other partners. The first international program in which the SGA participates, which is dedicated to the meeting of comics and gaming, will be rounded off on November 26th with a pitching event at the French Institute, as part of the November Numerique event, which presents several gaming and interactive technologies.

The finale of the program also has a competitive character, as the jury will select one project that will receive a prize fund that will be used to produce a cinemati trailer for their game concept, in collaboration with BunkerVFX studio, and which will be presented early next year.

In addition to the fact that the international jury will have the opportunity to get acquainted for the first time with 5 concepts for games created during this event – which their creators will pitch in front of an international jury – the special guest will be Pierre Lungheretti, one of France’s greatest comics experts!

The jury that will evaluate the projects developed by the teams really includes relevant names from the domain of comics and gaming from France, Germany and Serbia. France, as expected, represents the comics  perspective with Pierre Lungheretti, the already mentioned director of CiteBD, as well as Axel Buendia, Chief professor of digital interactive media at Cnam-ENJMIN in Angouleme, while from Germany Odile Limpach who runs the Spielfabrique accelerator will join us, bringing almost 30 years of professional experience in the field of gaming. Representatives of the partners from Serbia will also participate in the work of the jury: on behalf of the general sponsor, Digital Arrow studio, it will be Norbert Varga (Co-founder and Games Director); then in front of 3Lateral as part of Epic Games Adam Kovač (Soultions Specialist); from the company Two Deseprados projects will be evaluated by Game Designer Jovana Filipović, and from the Ubisoft Belgrade studio Level Artist who gave one of the lectures during the program, Dimitrije Lovrinčević.

Over the past eight months, our participants have been continuously worked by Dušan Žica, creative director with extensive experience in gaming, but also a large number of other lecturers who have covered many topics – from the history of gaming or various aspects of narrative design, through game design, art directorate, level development, character or sound design, production pipeline, communication skills, team culture, publishing, pitching and presentation skills, all the way to the basics of marketing positioning, developing trailers for AAA games or using the Unreal Engine. In addition, they had the opportunity to step into the offices of four domestic gaming companies, and get directly acquainted with their way of working, and their future colleagues from the industry.

The time has come to thank from the bottom of our hearts the people who selflessly shared their knowledge and experience: Mladen Levnajić (Playrix.rs), Norbert Varga andAleksandar Trudić (Digital Arrow), Hendrik Lesser (Remote Control Productons), Thierry Baujard and Odile Limpach (Spielfabrique), Vojislav Milutinović i Danko Dikić (Two Desperados), Marko Tulić i Dimitrije Lovričević (Ubisoft Belgrade), Remy Boicherot (Dontnod), Samuel Leveque (CiteBD), Stephan Froment (Limbic), Ivan Zorkić (Mad Head Games), Jelena Kević Đurđević (Sixmorevodka), FibreTigre, Nana Radenković (Nova Iskra), Nikita Jeremić (Waveform Studio), Darko Subotin (FDU), Adam Kovač (3Lateral), Relja Dereta (Epic Assistants), Kosta Mihailovski and Ana Uzelac (BunkerVFX) , as well as Niš-based companies Sozap and Webelinx Games i, last but not least, ImpactHUB Beograd, in whose space we met every week.

And we must certainly not forget the main protagonists of this program – young participants. Bravo and thanks -Miloš Petrović, Jovan Rakić, Jana Popović, Sofija Pašalić, Itana Pejović, Dragana Kostić, Ivan Ljujić, Ognjen Petrović, Tatjana Ristić, Miloš Markov, Lav Mrenović, Aleksandar Nećakov, Mladen Petronijević, Savo Lipovina, Mihailo Đurić, Katarina Kovjanić, Barbara Abdoli, Aleksa Dragišić, Vladimir Đaković, Alen Duš, Srđan Jeremić, Marija Šumarac and Aleksandar Branković!

However, this event does not end until the end of this year’s Playing Narratives journey. In December, the audience can expect a short documentary about the entire process that lasted throughout the year, as well as from a special interviews with all five teams, who will present their game concepts, the way they came up with them, and their experiences of participating in such project.

We plan to continue the cooperation during 2022, and thus we hope that at the beginning of next year we will be able to delight you with the invitation to participate in the second and more extensive cycle of Playing Narratives, which will have the opportunity to give even more participants to enter the professional world of creative video game development!

The eight-month program is an initiative of the French and Goethe Institutes in Serbia and SGA, with the support of the French-German Cultural Fund.The general sponsor of the project is DigitalArrow from Novi Sad, and in addition to the main partners in the realization, local companies Two Desperados and 3lateral (Part of Epic Games) are also participating as prominent sponsors. UbisoftBelgrade is also a sponsor of the project. Renowned organizations from Germany (accelerator Spielfabrique) and France (Higher education institution for Video Games and Interactive Digital Media Cnam-ENJMIN) and their lecturers are also involved in the implementation of the project. Our work-space partner is ImpactHUB.