Videogames Industry Supports Learning During Lockdown with Side Quest

Side Quest logo

Essex 2020 is thrilled to be backing this innovative national initiative to inspire the next generation of video games makers in Essex and beyond. Colchester’s Signals ran Essex’s first Games Academy in February; an intensive week of workshops and talks to learn about careers in the games industry and all aspects of videogame creation. We hope via this new platform that many more young people will be able to explore science and creativity through the building of computer games during this national event.

Launching on May 4th, Side Quest is a radical new UK wide initiative to encourage the 3.3 million 13-19 year olds currently at home during the pandemic to start a rewarding career in the videogames industry. Side Quest challenges participants to build a game in 7 days, with free software, regular live streamed masterclasses and a supportive online community.

  • The programme aims to get 100,000 young people building their first video game 
  • The ‘Quests’ involve participants building a game to a set challenge within 7 days
  • Quests have been put forward by some of the UK’s biggest studios including Sumo Digital (Crackdown 3, Team Sonic Racing), Creative Assembly (Total War, Alien Isolation), and Sports Interactive (Football Manager) with more announced over coming weeks    
  • No previous game making experience is required
  • Free access to a fully working copy of GameMaker Studio 2 software will be provided courtesy of Dundee based YoYo Games on a 30 day basis 
  • Weekly lessons from industry experts talking about their career and providing exclusive masterclasses from concept art to programming will be streamed on Twitch
  • Paper prototyping worksheets are available for those without access to laptops 
  • Quests will be mapped to the National Curriculum by UKIE’s educational programme, Digital Schoolhouse 
  • Side Quest will be running new Quests every 2 weeks until schools reopen in September 
  • Side Quest will use the hashtag #sidequestgames

The first ‘quest‘ will be provided by the award-winning game studio, Sumo Digital, who have also created a range of tutorials to help beginners understand the basics. The first theme will be titled, ‘House Spyder’, inspired by Sumo’s recently released hit game, Spyder, with a quarantined twist!  Participants are encouraged to interpret the theme however they like and be as imaginative as possible.  

Participants can go to and sign up straight away.

The scheme is run by the games careers service, Into Games and supported by the industry trade body, UKIE, as well as The National Videogame Museum, NextGen Skills Academy, and Digital Skills Partnership.

“Games are the nexus point between artistic and academic subjects, and we hope SideQuest will showcase how game making can be used to practically learn subjects as diverse as maths, english, art and science in a way that brings them all to life.”

Declan Cassidy, Into Games CEO

“The best way to learn what it’s like to be in the games industry is to have a go at making one of your own. Side Quest is a fantastic opportunity for teens to build their first great game and to learn that anyone, from whatever background can make it in our sector.”

Dr Jo Twist, UKIE CEO

What are you waiting for? Head over to and sign up today! Let us know about any work that you’re proud of and we’ll collect together some of our favourite examples on the website.