ADAM Syrop was five when he was introduced to the technology he is now using to support the children in his community.

The 36-year-old who now has three children of his own recalls his earliest memory was tapping code into a computer. “That got me interested - that I could actually change what the computer did and I could make something out of it,” he says.

His love of animation and games led to a hobby and helped him to develop a social network of friends who enjoyed playing games together and literally creating their own fun.

“It has always been part of my make up. I loved building and creating from a young age. I ran out of Lego but I would not run out of imagination and with a computer you can make things bigger and bigger.”

Adam’s interest in computer gaming brought him to the city of Bradford in 2000 when he came to study computer animation.

Working with young people in an alternative education centre, Adam used his experience and expertise creating computer games to educate and engage - a skill he is now using to positive effect through the CIC a non-profit Community Interest Company he established last year.

Impact Gamers hosts after school drop-in sessions as well as sessions for young people to create and play their own games at St Stephen’s Church, Newton Street, West Bowling.

“You start on the real basics, the thing that gets the children interested where they get to add a block on the screen and get them to change the options in the programme so it can be moved with the keyboard,” explains Adam.

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He says this fires the children’s imagination and prompts suggestions to include things in the game they can avoid or collect such as coins.

“When they see that first possibility to move a square around a screen all these things are easily possible but they are possible because we work with a high staff ratio,” says Adam.

Testimony to its success, Adam was recently awarded the BAFTA for Young Games Designer Mentor from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.

“I was a bit blown away,” he says modestly of his prestigious accolade.

Adam says the success of the project is very much a team effort but he was honoured to receive the award for mentoring and supporting young people in the Impact Gamers sessions.

He says through BAFTA they are already hoping to link in with other games developers and take the children on trips to see other games studios.

Adam says they are also looking at setting up an independent game studio where they can potentially develop games that can be made commercially available. This will help to fund the development of Impact Gamers.

Another initiative they were involved in to help sustain the sessions was creating an arcade machine which they were able to do through crowd funding.

The machine is available for visitors to play free in the Games Lounge at the National Science and Media Museum, Bradford, an organisation Adam credits with being extremely supportive of Impact Gamers.

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He talks of their invitation to attend the Yorkshire Games Festival running from February 6 to 10 2019 at the museum celebrating games culture and giving enthusiasts an insight into games development.

Technology controls our lives and for the generation who are born into it and, for whom it is a natural way of life rather than having to embrace it, such gadgetry continues to entertain and fascinate.

However, there has been criticism that young people are spending too much time on technology. There are concerns of the impact it is already having on conversations and communication.

Conscious of this, Adam explains his children’s screen time is limited. He says while technology is useful for developing their creativity he is keen to encourage them to be social; to meet friends face to face rather than communicating with them through a keyboard and screen.

He says anything done to excess can have a negative impact. He explains around the 19th century there was concern people were spending too much time reading novels.

The issue, he says, is the demand for keeping up with the fast-changing pace of technology which is probably why board games remain popular, allowing players to switch off and play something together.

Getting together and having fun is what gaming is all about - but, conscious of the violence that can exist in the games world, there are restrictions. Adam explains ‘real world violence’ is not allowed in games created by the club: no guns, blood, crime or prejudice.

Participation brings plenty of benefits: “The things that I think are really key is the social aspect of it; getting them out of their bedrooms into an environment where they can make friends and create something,” says Adam.

He explains gaming helps with their self esteem, their IT skills and gives them a sense of pride in their work.

One family who have benefited are Shabs and her sons Sahil and Junaid Ashraf. Shabs, 37 and from Wibsey, discovered Impact Gamers when she came to know Adam through the church. She explains Impact Gamers allows her sons to play games safely and also gives them the opportunity to socialise with other young people.

“It’s absolutely amazing and I think a lot of parents need to know about it. It’s helped me and my kids.”

Sessions are aimed at kids aged 7 to 11 and are held from 6pm-8pm on Mondays. Taster and after school sessions are also available.

“We want to change the community, to change Bradford as a city. We would love it to be a space where people can engage with technology healthily and create some really exciting things with it as well,” says Adam.