Lo-Jen, a start-up video game company, has won a Dragon’s Den-style contest that took place recently in north east England. The Game Academy competition, run by games industry business network Codeworks GameHorizon, had local companies and graduates practice pitching their ideas and concepts to a game industry expert panel.
The winning pitch took a classic turn-based strategy genre and aimed it at the handheld console market, an idea that the judges deemed the strongest and most commercially viable.
Lo-Jen, the winning company, was set up by Teesside University graduates Caleb Lowe and Tom Jenns, along with University of East Anglia graduate Jesse Roberts. They beat five other start-ups and graduates to take home a training and mentoring package worth more than 2,000 pounds.
The panel comprised Pete O’Donnell, chief games designer for the U.K. publisher Codemasters; Tom O’Connor from Sony Computer Entertainment Europe; Darren Jobling, director of business development at Eutechnyx; and Tony Parkes, executive producer at Midway’s Newcastle studio.
Jesse Roberts (22), managing director, said in an official statement, “Winning Game Academy is an important step for Lo-Jen. The chance to get in front of industry professionals, to take on board their criticism is extremely useful, and to win is a satisfying validation of our ideas. We hope the prestige of winning this award will give our games and our company a major boost as we seek to break into the market."
Partner Caleb Lowe (21), operations director, added, “We’re surprised and thrilled to win the competition against some big local names. The feedback on the day from the likes of SCEE and Codemasters was fantastic, but to win the additional mentoring package means we’ll have expert support to help turn our ideas into reality.”
Last year’s winner was a Teesside University graduate named Jeremiah Alexander, who used his prize to set up educational game company, Babel Digital.