A number of British game hubs have been popping up in recent years, often in areas without a history of game development.
To discuss this, four founders/supporters of their own respective games hubs take the stage at Pocket Gamer Connects London. They are:
- James Parker, Bristol Games Hub
- Brian Baglow, Scottish Games Network
- Bruce Slater, Game Bridge (North East England)
- Donal Phillips, Northern Ireland Screen
Parker begins by explaining that the Bristol Games Hub started as a local developer meet-up, but now helps support the nascent games industry in the South-West of England.
There's an added heft that comes with these hubs, it seems - a strength in numbers that helps with lobbying for funding and other support.
The Scottish Games Network in particular, Baglow notes, has been particularly effective in this area.
However, the uniting factor of all these hubs is that they come from a feeling of being shut out by the London-centric industry.
"Our whole network came up through a collective rage of local developers feeling like outsiders," notes Slater.
The mass > the individual
Phillips, despite being on the other side of the industry as a Digital Executive at Northern Ireland Screen, also recalls that "when I wanted to make games, I had to go to England."
However, partially thanks to the work done by hubs and other initiatives, "that's changing now."
Phillips has access to a funding budget, which puts him in a unique position on this panel as one who controls the purse strings. What's the significance of hubs to someone in his position?
"The biggest worry [for an investor] is that they won't be able to complete the project, but when you see that people are working in these hubs you see that they have a collective to call upon and they're not completely alone."
But besides making developers more bankable investments, it's the human aspect of regional game hubs that is most significant.
"It can be so easy for developers to get lost, to get stuck, to get down and depressed about things," says Baglow.
"When you're working in a group, you're opened up to so many more opportunities."