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Student Gamers score big with regional award

Part of the GameCon team with their award, L-R: Mark Lee, Thomas Atkinson, Rory Williamson, Thomas Black and Erin Blackett

Community-spirited students from Hartlepool College of Further Education were rewarded for an innovative charity video gaming event with a top award at a prestigious regional ceremony. The PoSBOs (Positive Social Behaviour Order), hosted by Youth Focus: North East, a charity that works across the region to improve the lives of young people, are now in their seventh year and celebrate the hard work and outstanding achievements of North East youngsters. A glittering ceremony was held at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead on Thursday 8th December, where the team behind the College’s GameCon 2016 walked away with the biggest prize of the night – Best Youth Project Award.

The GameCon event first started in 2015 and was created as an event that students would enjoy running. Students Thomas Black, Andrew Smales, Sam Henderson, Rory Williamson and Student Services team leader Mark Lee devised the idea when thinking about ways to engage with students and the wider public. Mark said “We wanted something that would appeal to people of all ages and be very unique. We are all gamers with lots of retro and modern gaming systems, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to run a gaming event.”

Changing Futures was picked as a charity the event would support due to their inspirational work with young people, particularly teenagers from the Hartlepool area. Mark continued “The team at Changing Futures were fantastic in 2015 and again in 2016. Jess Watson really helped us and promoted the event across the town. Our fundraising also made a big difference to their cause which was great to see.'

With sponsorship and food from Domino’s Pizza Hartlepool, over 100 visitors came in over three days to have a go at a huge range of modern and retro games. In addition the College’s impressive Aerospace flight simulator was set up and Teesside University Game Design tutors and students came along with some state-of-the-art virtual reality kit.

Student Ambassador Thomas added “Everyone really came together to support us. Changing Futures, Dominos, our own IT and facilities departments and our College marketing team. It was a very collaborative event. We are naturally ecstatic to win the PosBo Award for the Best Youth Event in the North East in 2016 as we were up against some amazing, inspiring events. Youth Focus North East stated we won due to the event being an innovate, creative idea that really captured the interest of people across Hartlepool. Seeing so many young people and families come together to play was rewarding, but having this recognition and award is an amazing feeling. We're already planning GameCon 2017 and this has given us the confidence to make it our biggest, best one yet!'

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