Interview

Developers enduring 'tough' time in the North West, says Game Dev North's Samuel Mottershaw

But community brings studios together

Developers enduring 'tough' time in the North West, says Game Dev North's Samuel Mottershaw
The decision by Game Dev North organisers to switch venue from Chester to Liverpool for the sixth - and this time especially summer-themed - event this August is a testament to its popularity.

From a base of around 10 or so attendees, next month's splash could see up to 250 people pop along to evening shebang, which looks to unite developers from across the North West of England.

But what do developers take away form such events? And how healthy is the development scene across the region anyway?

We caught up with organiser Samuel Mottershaw to find out why Game Dev North could soon be expanding nationwide.

Pocket Gamer: You're nearing the sixth Game Dev North. Why the switch from Chester to Liverpool?

Samuel Mottershaw: A couple of reasons really. We were looking for a bigger venue, there are quite a few developers in Liverpool, and it’s easier access for people travelling from far and wide.

Chester was great, but the bars aren't all that big there and we wanted to do a big summer party basically, so Liverpool seemed like a great idea.

It has proven a popular choice as we’ve just gotten our 100th sign up now.

Did you imagine the event would grow so quickly when you first started out?

Not at all - I always wanted to be huge but you just don’t expect it.

Things exploded during the third event, when we expected about 30 people to sign up at a push, but we ended up with more than double that.

The sky is the limit, I guess. There are plenty of cities with lots of developers who don't know each other, so we are planning to expand out to them. Plus we've be talking to a few people about Game Dev North hosted events, which is a nice surprise.


Mottershaw with Game Dev North organisers and sponsors

How did you pull off the Microsoft deal, and how is the firm supporting Game Dev North in general?

It came out of the blue, actually.

Someone from Microsoft had heard about the event and sent me a email they wanted to get to know more indies on a local basis and our event seemed like the perfect way for them to do that.

Those at Microsoft are very supportive, but they are letting us do our own thing. It's great to have them on board saying "We're just here to back you up - it’s your event."

That's something all the sponsors have said actually, which makes organising the event all the easier.

What have you taken from the Game Dev North events so far? How is the life of a developer in the North West in 2012?

What I've realised is that there are so many developers around, yet nobody really knew each other.

We've had so many developers meet someone else and say, "You live just around the corner from us! Who knew!"

In general, I'd say life in development up here is tough, since we don’t have the same direct access to funding or publishers that folk in Guildford, Brighton, Cambridge or London do - other than the excellent guys at Ripstone.

It's almost like everyone was on their own, but that's quickly changing now we've got everyone in the same room, having a drink with one another.
Thanks to Samuel for his time.

You can find out more about the forthcoming Game Dev North in Liverpool on 11 August on its Eventbrite page.

With a fine eye for detail, Keith Andrew is fuelled by strong coffee, Kylie Minogue and the shapely curve of a san serif font.

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Matt Phillips
The more of this stuff, the better. I've attended a few of Sam's events and the common belief that games developers around here are "few and far between" has been flattened on its face - there's plenty of them, they're all superbly talented people and the majority are ready to hire.

...and god DAMN they can drink!