“Now is easily the best time to be making games in the UK”

“Now is easily the best time to be making games in the UK”

Given that we Brits like to enjoy our leisure time, it’s no surprise that the gaming industry is one that has endured the recession and enjoyed buoyancy rather than panic. With the marching on of technology, and new, must-have products emerging all the time, our excitement and adrenalin is fuelled on a regular basis. Mobile apps have also ensured that gaming has slotted effortlessly into our changing routines and way of life.

To constantly bring new products to the market you must have continual innovation and creativity behind the scenes. New game design has predominantly been an overseas’ pursuit before now, but the UK’s contribution is growing. According to some in the industry, there’s never been a better time for UK game designers to create and produce their ideas.

Says designer Alex Ward, who left Criterion to work as part of a small UK team: “We're passionate about British development and we want to help it survive. I grew up playing all the great games that came out of the country. We've got a great climate for coding - if you can't go outside you might as well stay in and write a good game. We just hope that more teams can have a go. We believe that, with the technology that’s available today, even small teams can compete with the bigger studios.” He added, “The UK has great talent coming out of the universities and a great gaming culture; it certainly inspired me. Now is easily the best time to be making games in the UK."

Certainly, the success of smaller developers seems to be gaining traction. The bigger the game, the more risk it presents to the publisher: it costs more to produce and market. Smaller teams have fewer overheads, and also the freedom to try new things.

The number of UK ‘microstudios’ doubled between 2012 and 2013, an increase probably helped by the government’s investment into the sector. Though, according to TIGA CEO Richard Wilson, the boom is “a direct consequence of the UK games industry’s increasing focus on mobile as the primary games platform.”

Simon Bennett, director of Roll7, an award-winning studio, believes that mobile has brought about another shift that’s also benefited the UK industry. More females are playing. He says, “Mobile has moved gaming from what was considered to be quite a hardcore experience — a console in the living room — to something you’d play with one finger out and about on the Tube.”

Audiences have indeed widened, and now include game-playing pensioners, on their Kindles and tablets, to toddlers learning how to read on iPads.

With so many markets and audiences to cater for, it’s little wonder developers in the UK have the (gaming) world at their feet.

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