Brighton Week: Why Brighton's mobile mastery makes it the perfect destination for Develop

Boss Alien, Relentless et al speak out

Brighton Week: Why Brighton's mobile mastery makes it the perfect destination for Develop
Brighton. Sun – well sometimes, at least - sea, sand and video games.

This ever-fashionable seaside resort on the British south coast has evolved into one of the most vibrant development hubs in the UK mobile scene.

Little wonder, then, that the most important games dev event in the country – Develop – kicks off its annual shebang in Brighton in less than 24 hours, with some of the global leaders in in mobile game design, such as CSR Racing's Boss Alien, just down the road.

Much like a mini GDC in San Francisco, the arrival of Develop in Brighton every year turns the city into the centre of the gaming universe for just a few days, drawing in developers from all around the globe eager to share their experiences with the rest of the industry.

But this week, our focus is going to be on those outfits who have made Brighton their base.

Speaking to some of the local scene's most prominent players, we'll find out what makes the mobile development scene in the city tick, what the major issues are, and just what annual events like Develop bring to the area.

The boss at Boss Alien

Indeed, according to Boss Alien's managing direction Jason Avent, it's the networking opportunities Develop provides that can prove invaluable to those operating across Brighton.

"I really enjoy Develop," says Avent. "It's good to see old friends and acquaintances."

"I'm not sure it changes the feel of the entire city but it certainly steers my entertainment and work agenda for a few days."

Hilton Brighton Metropole, the home of Develop

It's key, of course, that it isn't just Avent that benefits from such an occasion. In fact, Boss Alien makes sure that the rest of its staff are also able to get out of the office and gain as much knowledge as possible from the various developer sessions at the conference.

"We buy a lot of passes and our staff go to many of the sessions. It's usually a very informative conference with varied subjects and speakers," Avent tells us.

"Everyone has been talking about Develop this year" - Mediatonic

And it appears this year's Develop may provide some of the biggest opportunities ever. According to Dave Bailey, CEO of Adult Swim mobile game developer Mediatonic, Develop 2013 has generated quite a buzz.

"Everyone has been talking about Develop this year and there's a lot of excitement about it," Bailey tells us.

"It is fantastic for Brighton and I think the city is the ideal place for a big games event where people work hard but also remember how to have fun."

Like Boss Alien, Mediatonic will be making sure that its staff get to see as many presentations as possible.

"It's great for business and we'll have a big team out at the show this year," Bailey says. "We have several presentations on the itinerary and we'll be around to catch up with friends and colleagues all week."

Relentless Software: helping the hungover

But does Brighton's development scene go beyond simply turning up to Develop? Do studios actively look to take part?

Relentless Software has been a fixture of the Brighton gaming scene for many years, but it takes a slightly different approach to the Develop conference. CEO, Andrew Eades, explains.

"It's always fantastic to hook up with old friends and make new friends, but it's even better when you are on home turf," says Eades.

"Relentless always supplies ice cream or bacon sarnies in the morning for the hungover and we also sponsor the charity poker tournament for GamesAid."

There's plenty of business to conduct during Develop, but Eades notes that it is important for games companies to relax and enjoy spending a week with peers and friends too.

"The town is famous for partying and that just goes up a notch. The Hilton bar has usually run out of beer by the first afternoon!"

"You'd never know it [Develop] was happening." - FuturLab

One of Brighton's younger studios, FuturLab is rather less enthusiastic about Develop. Managing director, James Marsden, argues that Brighton is already so busy that having a big event pass through doesn't have much impact on the town.

"I'd say unless you happen to be staying at the Brighton Metropole Hotel or attempting to get into the club that the annual Eurogamer party has chosen for its fun and frolics, you'd never know it was happening," Marsden says.

"That's not to take anything away from the Develop conference though, Brighton is just bustling with activity all year round."

Throughout this week Pocket Gamer will be examining the Brighton gaming scene, with full in-depth interviews with each of these developers. We will look into the history of games development in Brighton, as well as it's future.

Come back to PocketGamer.biz tomorrow for the first of these interviews, with Andrew Eades, CEO of Relentless Software.

Have you worked in video game development in Brighton? What was your experience of the area? Are you attending the Develop conference this week?

Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Joe just loves to go fast. That's both a reflection of his status as a self-proclaimed 'racing game expert', and the fact he spends his days frantically freelancing for a bevy of games sites. For PocketGamer.biz, however, Joe brings his insight from previous job as a community manager at iOS developer Kwalee. He also has a crippling addiction to Skittles, but the sugar gets him through the day.


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