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Digital Schoolhouse’s Festival of Play comes to three locations this summer

Festival of Play, the fun-filled creative careers and computing conference in association with Electronic Arts and Northern Ireland Screen, aimed at students aged 9-14, returns this summer with a jam-packed schedule of interactive workshops, inspiring talks, and innovative games - all showcasing the range of careers available in the video games industry.  

Returning for its third year, the Festival of Play will expand further than before, hosted for the first time at three universities across the UK: Stranmillis University College, Belfast on 18 June, University of Westminster, London on 4 July and University of Warwick, Coventry on 11 July.  

The events will educate and empower young learners, allowing them to get closer to the technology used to make video games and to spark their interest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) subjects. Pupils will hear from and meet people who work in the video games industry, encouraging them to think about how the skills and interests they have today can match up with the careers they may grow into in the future. 

Festival of Play also recruits university student volunteers, providing them with an invaluable opportunity to network and learn from the attending video games companies and industry professionals.  

This one-of-a-kind school trip is not just for school pupils. The conference is a fantastic opportunity for continuing professional development, providing the teachers in attendance with the skills to bring Computing lessons to life in the classroom by teaching in fun and playful ways.   

Festival of Play has been a huge success over the past two years, engaging hundreds of school pupils and their teachers in a uniquely interactive games careers experience. The event’s evaluation survey found that 70% of students left the Festival interested in a career in video games and likely to continue with an activity learned at the conference. Teachers gained an improved knowledge of computing as a subject and its application within the video games industry, plus an increased enthusiasm to teach industry-informed digital and creative skills. 

Digital Schoolhouse is proud to team up once again with Electronic Arts on this project, a partnership which aims to improve school engagement with computer science and careers in STEAM. This year, Digital Schoolhouse is also excited to partner with Northern Ireland Screen to bring the event to students and teachers in Belfast for the first time.   

“It has been exciting to watch the Festival of Play grow year on year thanks to the support and partnership of Electronic Arts. To be able to bring the Festival to Northern Ireland in partnership with NI Screen enables us to bring a wealth of unique and inspiring opportunities to students and teachers across the region. The next phase of the Festival of Play is an incredibly exciting one, and I can’t wait to see what 2024 brings.”  Shahneila Saeed, Director of Digital Schoolhouse 

"Events like the Festival of Play help bring to life the broad range of career opportunities that a STEAM-based education can open up for students. At EA, we believe that play-based STEAM learning can spark creativity and teach students valuable skills that will help prepare them for success in an ever-changing workforce. We're excited to continue our partnership with Digital Schoolhouse and expand access and opportunity for even more students across the UK."  Jaimie Vargas, Head of Global Social Impact at Electronic Arts 

“We are delighted to bring the Festival of Play to Northern Ireland for the first time. This unique event isn't only about play—it's about unlocking the boundless possibilities within the world of creative careers and computing. It promises to be a transformative experience showcasing the diverse array of opportunities within the dynamic video games industry locally, nationally, and internationally.”  David McConnell, Education and Careers Manager at Northern Ireland Screen 

Schools can register for the Festival of Play for free. To book for the Festival in Belfast on 18 June, please click here. To book for London on 4 July, please click here. To book for Coventry on 11 July, please click here.

If you have any questions about the Festival of Play, including how to get involved, please contact Siân on sian@ukie.org.uk.