Tackling the issue of mental health through a computer game has led to Bafta recognition for two Banbury students.

Alex Castle and Daniel Purvis have been shortlisted for a prestigious Young Games Designer award in the Game Concept category.

The 14-year-olds are students at Futures Institute, a sister school to Wykham Park Academy on the Banbury Aspirations Campus, and were encouraged to enter by computer science teacher Erika Rhodes.

Alex and Daniel’s game is titled My Escape and revolves around the issues of mental health and adolescence.

The protagonist in the game is a 14-year-old girl called Lola Woodlock whose parents are constantly arguing, said Alex: ‘’She gets fed up of it and ends up falling down a hole in her back garden that takes her to an alternate reality, one where anything is possible.

‘’Our target audience is young people aged 13 to 17 as they are most likely to relate to the theme of the game (parents arguing, running away from home and mental health issues). People in this age range are likely to understand what the main character is going through with things like how Lola runs away from home.

‘’The game was inspired by the uprising of people facing mental illness and how it should be something looked into more. I have also had some personal experience with some aspects of the game.

‘’It feels amazing to think that our game has been chosen to be part of the small handful of games in the finals.’’

Ms Rhodes said entering the competition provided an opportunity for the students to see how what they are learning connects and engages them with the real world, she explained: ‘’It stops them from seeing a subject like computer science as dry and realising how important it is. At Futures Institute students are encouraged to view wider society and engage in real life events.

‘’We’re all very excited for Alex and Daniel. Some of the subjects chosen by other students were wacky but Alex and Daniel’s game brooches the area of mental health and with the current situation with covid-19, increased domestic violence and stress for young people it is very much a current topic.’’

Young Game Designers is in its 10th year and is an initiative by BAFTA that inspires and supports young people to create, develop and present their new game to the world.

This year’s final will be held online on June 18th.