Barclays and NSE Announce the Games Innovation Challenge


Barclays and NSE (National Student Esports), the official body for university esports in the UK and the most active grassroots gaming community in the country, are proud to announce the first Games Innovation Challenge, a games development competition for students across the UK to test their skills and creativity.

Running until March 18th, participants will have to create the most innovative and competitive games with the chance to win a portion of the £5,000 prize pool. The winning prize is £3,000, with second and third place prizes of £1,250 and £750 respectively.

‘Competitive games’ is the theme for the inaugural challenge and each submission is required to showcase an original concept with the goal of pitting players against each other.

Students are also encouraged to submit a plan on how a competition of their proposed game would be run.

Teams can be formed of students from different universities and also contain non-students.

However, to participate in the challenge, the majority of the team and the project lead must be enrolled at university. Any platform and prebuilt assets can be used, provided that they have the permission or license to do so.

A panel of gaming and esports industry experts will be judging the entries on five criteria; technical quality, aesthetic, entertainment, innovation and competition plan.

Applications for the Games Innovation Challenge are open, with a closing date of 18th March 2021. The winner will be announced on the 9th of April 2021.

Submissions and the participant pack can be found at

Alex Coulson, Managing Director, NSE, said:

“We are extremely excited to announce this new challenge with Barclays. We wanted to provide an opportunity for students to apply their academic learning and develop their collaborative skills. The Games Innovation Challenge is a great way for students to test their creativity and showcase their passion with the added benefit of improving their employment prospects post graduation.

We couldn’t be happier to be working with Barclays on this project as they continue to show their dedication and support for the UK grassroots gaming & esports communities.”

David Gowans, Head of Games and Esports, Barclays, added:

“We’re delighted to be working with NSE on an initiative like the Games Innovation Challenge that creates opportunities to help students develop and grow. As we are not able to hold live events for the foreseeable future, we see the importance of bringing students together from across the country to collaborate with each other online.”

This will be the next initiative Barclays and NSE are running since the announcement of their partnership for the 2020/2021 academic year in June. The partnership announcement followed the Barclays Game Technology Frenzy event, which took place last year at the Barclays’ headquarters in London. At this event, Barclays worked with NSE to showcase some of the best student teams competing in the British University Esports Championship.

Supporting programmes like the Games Innovation Challenge is part of Barclays wider goal to champion the games and esports industry in the UK. Over the past year, Barclays has partnered with NSE, UKLC and Ukie. For more information about Barclays gaming and esports initiative, visit: