Playing Narratives is a joint initiative of the French Institute and the Goethe-Institut in Serbia, in cooperation with SGA, which last year successfully implemented its pilot program involving numerous partners from the country and abroad, and whose beneficiaries were young creatives from all over Serbia, interested in professional stepping into the gaming industry. By the end of the program, half of them had already achieved professional opportunities in one of the gaming companies.
This year, the program Playing Narratives: Ideas to Games is especially intended for illustrators/artists, animators, creative writers, as well as those who deal with computer modeling or sound design. Over the course of eight months, they will have the opportunity to collaborate with renowned mentors and lecturers from the European gaming industry, form teams with their peers, peak into the work of some of the leading Serbian gaming companies, work on their own projects and compete for valuable prizes.
Selected participants will attend lectures and workshops on topics such as gaming history, narrative design, visual storytelling, character development, game and level design, game art and business aspects of gaming. In addition, they will work on the development of their “soft” skills such as team culture or presentation skills, and since the general sponsor of this year’s program is Unreal Engine, or Epic Games, they will also have the opportunity to learn about the almost infinite possibilities of this versatile technology platform. Finally, they will receive support for the potential development of prototypes of their games after the completion of the program.
Take a look at the “aftermovie” of last year’s program to check out only a small part of the atmosphere and interesting activities that the participants went through.
All interested young creatives from one of these domains, are over 18 years old and come from one of the five countries covered by the program (Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Northern Macedonia, Romania, Slovenia) – can apply via the online form, not later than Sunday, March 27th at midnight.
This year, Playing Narratives especially invites young female authors to apply, as the goal is for at least half of the 30 participants to be girls. Serbia is the leading European country when it comes to gender balance within the gaming industry (30% of employees are women).
Some of the lectures will be open to the wider community and realized as hybrid or online events, while a large multi-day “bootcamp” is planned for the beginning of May in Novi Sad, when participants from all participating countries will meet, follow through valuable workshops and form project teams. While last year the theme of the program was dedicated to the intersection of the fields of comics and gaming, this time the participants will develop concepts for games during the project work that will offer creative answers to some of the burning social phenomena, through the interpretation of the umbrella theme – Tainted Nowness.
As last year, one renowned organization from both Germany and France are joining the program. A MAZE. Festival from Berlin has been dedicated to the domain of “arthouse” games and “playful” interactive media for more than a decade, and the next edition is scheduled for May 13-17 this year. On the other hand, Plain Images is one of the largest European hubs for the development of creative industries located in Lille, in the north of France, with incubator and accelerator programs in the fields of audiovisual production, gaming, immersive and music technologies.
In the first cycle of the program in 2021, 23 young creatives from Serbia developed 5 team projects and presented them to an international jury. The winning project – Beyond the Gates by the Soulbusters team – won the budget and mentoring support to produce a cinematic trailer for its game, in collaboration with the BunkerVFX studio team. The trailer will be presented to the public next week, as part of a promotional campaign for the new cycle of the program.
As in the previous year, the program is supported by the Franco-German Cultural Fund, which was established in 2003 on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the Elysee Agreement. The general sponsor is Unreal Engine (i.e. companies Epic Games & 3Lateral), while the distinguished sponsor is the French company Ubisoft Belgrade. This year, the Niš-based Webelinx Games also joined the program as a sponsor, while additional support in the realization will be provided by French and Goethe institutes from the entire region, as well as SGA colleagues from Slovenia Games, MAGDA and RGDA.