Independently speaking: Now's the time for a Scottish trade body, says Brian Baglow

Independently speaking: Now's the time for a Scottish trade body, says Brian Baglow

Given developers aplenty have been calling to the UK game industry's two existing trade bodies – UKIE and TIGA – to merge, now might seem like an odd time to launch an entirely new one.

Scottish Games Network – or SGN for short – has a slightly different remit, however.

For one - and as its name suggests - it's exclusively for developers in Scotland. But, as founder and director Brian Baglow points out, it's also been charged with going beyond the development scene to link up with tech firm's, too.

"There are a growing number of organisations here in Scotland which need to engage with the games sector on an industry level," Baglow told us. "However, they need to deal with a professional organisation, not some random bloke with a web site - no matter how definitive or stylish."

That's why, Baglow says, SGN had to evolve from its previous state as a loose group based around a website to "become something more official."

"There have been several requests for this sort of collaboration over the summer, so it all came together quite quickly in the last couple of months."

Breaking up is hard to do

With a crucial vote on Scottish independence due in 2014, however, the timing of SGN's launch won't be lost on anyone. If Scotland splits from the UK, existing nationwide trade bodies may run into difficulties.

Is SGN out to become the official trade body of a newly independent Scotland, then?

"The short answer is no," replies Baglow.

"With or without independence, Scotland already has significant infrastructure differences with the rest of the UK.

"That alone makes it important that the country has an organisation which can accurately and knowledgeably represent the sector and work with the public and private sector bodies already here."

Indeed, SGN isn't about building divides, Baglow attests, but more about knocking them down.

"Scotland has been something of a pioneer in the games industry from the early days - especially in mobile," he details.

"There's a real sense of exploration and experimentation, coupled with a sense of independence.

"As companies close, or people leave, rather than move away or join other large studios, they tend to stick around, start-up their own business and go build their own ideas. The diversity of the industry in Scotland is a real strength, as is the willingness to try new things."

Out and about

This spirit of building bridges extends to branching out beyond the development scene to talk to companies in other sectors. It is, Baglow says, something most developers already do.

"One of the problems with the games industry as a whole is the fact that development is seen as somehow separate from the other business processes," he says.

"Very few developers these days operate purely as game creators. They have to bring in new business, publish, distribute, monetise and market their games. The whole process needs to be seen as an ecosystem with development one part of the process.

"The games sector has been seen as an isolated and insular business by the rest of the creative world. That has to change."

SGN, therefore is about building "collaboration and communication between developers and between the development community and the wider creative industries."

"The goal of the SGN is collaboration and openness," adds Baglow, referencing any potential conflict with UK bodies UKIE and TIGA.

"We're going to be focusing on the Scottish sector quite tightly but want to ensure that we're working with all of the various 30 plus organisations involved in the industry in Scotland - including UKIE and TIGA.

"Anything on a UK level, or anything which can be tied into the larger organisations we're happy to contribute to, or get involved with. Plus we can now provide a resource here in Scotland for projects from all of the various organisations when they need expert input north of the border."

With SGN's help, therefore, Scotland can be a "world leader in games" with "multiple companies producing multiple franchises, successfully - commercially and creatively - on a global level" whether it's in or out of the UK.

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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