Brains Eden – games jamming heaven

Course: Computer Gaming Technology BSc (Hons)

2 December 2019

Headshot of Ross Nicholas

Brains Eden is the UK’s largest international students games jam, now in its twelfth year at ARU Cambridge. This year was my sixth as a mentor and judge, and another exceptional festival.

I have been to a fair few games jams and can safely say there is nothing quite like Brains Eden. The students all show passion and determination to work together, and create some very special games, with high quality levels shown across all disciplines.

What sets Brains Eden apart from all the other games jams is the fact that the students:

  • Have a fantastic venue that caters for the event (ARU has excellent facilities and the hardware for the students was of first rate quality).
  • Have mentors from all parts of the industry, who sit with each team and give feedback constantly through the process. (A quick calculation: that’s over 100 years’ worth of industry experience at this event. Wow!)
  • Can receive prizes for many different categories. Don’t just have a games jam but also a career clinic afterwards! (This is one of the most important points - not only is it a great opportunity for the students but it also helps our industry too).
  • Have a fantastic technical team on hand throughout this well organised event.
Participants at Brains Eden games jam
Grop of participants at Brains Eden games jam
Participants at Brains Eden games jam

It’s hard enough to get into the games industry (I finished university with a first class degree and a published game, but still took over a year to get a job), but without events like this, students would not even be given a fighting chance. At Brains Eden students have the time to get to know the mentors and we start to see their characters emerge.

Let’s put it this way: an employer sees a portfolio and then decides to interview. They interview for an hour, then have to make a decision if they can work with this person for a long time or not.  Whereas, at Brains Eden, we have four days to get to know the students, and we get to see them when they are stressed, calm, tired, confident, shy etc. We can start to really see everybody’s personalities, which is much better than just an interview. The students are always polite but proactive in showing their CVs and portfolios to the companies, and it gives us a chance to see how their social skills are in 1-2-1 consultation, and if we can see them fitting in our team.

I have personally put forward a handful of strong candidates in which I saw a spark. Another two of my colleagues came along to the event this year and have also put forward students who impressed them too.

It is clear to me, and clear to not only some of England’s largest AAA games companies but also many indie companies too, that Brains Eden is a magnet for up-and-coming new talent from around the world.


Ross Nicholas is a Level Designer with Codemasters Software Co. Ltd.

Want to find out more about the range of courses on offer at ARU - including Computer Gaming Technology BSc (Hons) and Computer Games Art BA (Hons)? Book a place on one of our Open Days


Photos: Brains Eden 2019 by Dom Zalys.