Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6 takes place from April 19th to 23rd, so to give you a taste of what to expect, we'll bring you interviews with some of our esteemed speakers at the show.
The conference spans five days and will feature a broad selection of tracks, talks and speakers, as well as various fringe events and the return of our meeting system.
For more details on the event and to book a ticket, head to the website.
For today's spotlight, we spoke with Ukie head of communications George Osborn, who has worked in the industry for a decade as a journalist, content marketer, event organiser and host - even helping to organise Pocket Gamer Connects in 2015.
Osborn will be part of a panel about what the games business will be like post-vaccine.
PocketGamer.biz: Tell us a bit about your company?
George Osborn: Ukie is the trade body for the UK video games industry. We speak on behalf of over 500 games businesses of all shapes, sizes and backgrounds in an effort to make the UK the best place to make, play and sell games.
We campaign to improve the industry at every level.
Our education team helps to build the talent pipeline into the sector; our membership and commercial team support the development of businesses through advice, networking and contacts, our policy team works with the UK government to build a great environment to do business; our comms team helps campaign and speak on behalf of the sector to tell our side of the story.
Companies engaged in extraordinary acts of generosity to support people, including donating nearly 100,000 free games to NHS workers through our Games for Carers programme.George Osborn
We also help the industry in a number of other ways by producing quality research to quantify our impact, working to protect the IP of UK games businesses and advising people outside of games about the best ways to work with us.
In short, we like to keep ourselves busy for (hopefully) the benefit of the industry.
What does your role entail?
I'm the person responsible for telling the story of our industry to the wider world. I build relationships with the press to make sure they always know where to get the UK games industry perspective on things.
I run campaigns on a range of issues to bring our collective strength together to tackle the big issues of the day. I also make sure that we're speaking to the industry too, sharing insights but also listening closely so that we can do our jobs better for you.
Why did you want to work in the games industry?
Because games are great!
I wish I had something more profound to say than this, but the truth is that games have brought me so much happiness that I couldn't turn down a chance to work in the industry.
However, if I'm levelling with you, I didn't know that I could work in games until the opportunity to move into it presented itself. I think with the industry the size it is now, it's much easier for someone to set that goal of "I want to work in games."
But we can do and must keep doing more, to show the breadth of games to get even more people coming in - especially from a much wider range of backgrounds.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?
Check out Into Games for advice on getting into games (ironically). As well as giving you a full breakdown of actual jobs in the industry, it also gives out loads of information about careers activities to help you take the first step.
What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?
The industry had an extraordinary 2020. We can certainly talk about how much money games generated (£7 billion in the UK, for anyone counting) but I think that misses the most important thing for me; namely, how we stepped up to support people during a global crisis.
Games businesses put public health messages into games to do their bit to battle COVID. Companies engaged in extraordinary acts of generosity to support people, including donating nearly 100,000 free games to NHS workers through our Games for Carers programme.
And the way that players and developers came together to fundraise on behalf of charities showed a generosity of spirit that caught the attention of those outside games.
Now, this isn't to say that we can't do more as a sector. We have to keep driving on with our efforts to build a truly equal, inclusive and diverse industry. We must do more to help educate players and parents about how games work to overcome big concerns over screen time and spend. And we must show we understand our wider responsibilities in the long term, such as to the environment.
On the regulatory front, games businesses need to be aware that they're going to come under extra scrutiny.George Osborn
But we should have the confidence to say that we played our part last year. We just need to make sure we keep doing that in 2021 and beyond.
What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?
On the regulatory front, games businesses need to be aware that they're going to come under extra scrutiny.
Our success means that people will ask questions about how we're achieving it, so it's important that games businesses comply with new measures such as the forthcoming Children's Code and pay close attention to the forthcoming Online Harms Bill to show we're on top of our relevant responsibilities.
More broadly, I think that the industry will need to take a close look at how it's playing its part in the battle against Climate Change.
With COP 26 later this year and the industry now benefitting from a Green Games Guide that has advice on cutting down the carbon footprint of games businesses, we have a good opportunity to collectively take a stance against the damage done to our environment and inspire others to do more.
Lastly, within the industry itself, I'm interested to see how much the boundaries hold up between console, mobile and PC.
Cloud gaming, subscription services and developments in cross-platform play have reduced the distance between the major platforms and I'm fascinated to see how that unfolds in the next 12 months.
How has the games industry changed since you first started?
I'd say the explosion in the size and scope of the industry is the biggest change.
Don't get me wrong, games were big business. Now though we're talking about an industry that employs hundreds of thousands of people around the world, which generates hundreds of billions of dollars of revenue each year and touches half the population of the world.
With that growth comes the unbelievable opportunity for game makers and businesses. But it also comes with added responsibility too, something that we need to embrace to ensure that we can keep growing with the trust of the world around us.
Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?
Oh, definitely the talks. It's great to have such a wide range of speakers over the course of a few days and I'm looking forward to tuning in to listen to some of their insights.
The full conference schedule is now live on the website. In the meantime, you can also check out our other track rundowns and coverage of previous Pocket Gamer Connects conferences ahead of the event itself.