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UK's 'talented' dev scene risks being sunk by closed off communities

Time to open us, says Game Dev's Morgan

UK's 'talented' dev scene risks being sunk by closed off communities
"We're an amazing little island filled with many talented people...but we also need to change."

That's the take of Game Dev Midlands organiser Ash Morgan who, in a blog post published in response to an article on PocketGamer.biz yesterday, has reinforced his claim that the mobile development scene in the UK needs to foster a greater sense of community.

"We all need to be more open," detailed Morgan in the post.

"Gaming is our passion, we all want to make games that people can play and have fun with but if we don’t communicate with each other we risk harming our collective creativity and setting ourselves back even more in a world that still thinks we are just a fad."

Climate of fear

Morgan suggests that's there's a culture of developers keeping things to themselves, fearful of revealing information they shouldn't, or giving the competition an insight into their activities.

That attitude, he suggests, results in many simply becoming too 'corporate' at events, closing down any sense of community as a result.

"Don’t go violating NDAs or revealing company secrets, but go meet up with others at a bar or arrange a little get together with people not just from your company," he added.

"Talk about what you do and what you enjoy, chat about what you don’t like and ask for the suggestions of others."

Morgan's call comes in response to an official statement issued by UK trade association TIGA - itself published in reply to comments he made in an interview with PocketGamer.biz.

More meet ups

In it, Morgan had once again called on developers to link up – the interview conducted at the first Game Dev Midlands meet up, designed to help studios do just that – claiming "no one talks".

"I totally agree that developers need to network more," TIGA CEO Richard Wilson said in a statement issued to PocketGamer.biz.

"That's why TIGA has previously supported GameDev North in its endeavours and why we also organise our own networking events around the UK."

Despite this response, Morgan says he stands by his initial statement, claiming that "no one in the UK really talks about what they’re doing and how they are."

"Sure we have presentations and ceremonies to talk of our successes but what about the in between time?

"That time when we are working hard on our projects or still in the planning stages? Hell, what about the times you’ve made a mistake and want to get the input of others? Game meet ups are there to serve that purpose and we need more of them."

[source: Ash Morgan]

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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Brian Baglow
Sorry, I'm with Martin. Scotland too has a flourishing development sector, with 90+ studios up here now. We meet up fairly often and have the Scottish Games Network (www.scottishgames.net) as a focal point for everything industry related.

There are monthly networking meetings which move between Dundee, Glasgow and Edinburgh and we just pulled in 30+ developers to the Game In Scotland (www.gameinscotland.com) event, which had 400+ students and people looking for jobs, all getting together networking and then going out for beers.

We've got a lot of cross-pollination, collaboration, discussion, debate and argument going on at almost every point. Most companies work with their colleagues and peers and we've got a lot of sharing and joining betas/testflight.

If we're heading to MWC, GDC, E3, etc. we go out as Scotland, with Scottish Development International driving the whole presence and every developer networking, sharing contacts and making introductions.

And trust me, if we want a journalist to come visiting, we HAVE to act collaboratively. If someone from PG is taking 2 x days out of the office, we'll make it worth their while and get them a minimum of 6 developers to show off their new projects.

I talk to Andrew at GaMaYo a lot and have helped TIGA, UKIE, BAFTA, etc, all organise events north of the border. Yorkshire aside, we don't see a lot of developers from the rest of the UK however. I guess we need to just keep trailing down to Brighton/London so we can prove to you we exist...
Martin Caine
I actually think the Yorkshire dev scene must be leading the way in this respect. I'm a developer in Yorkshire and have been a member of Game Republic for a few years which offers business support and networking opportunitues.

More recently the Ga-Ma-Yo (Game Makers in Yorkshire) group was created and we have a pretty active Facebook group for discussions, an upcoming website which will show off the game dev talent in Yorkshire and help promote B2B activities, and we'll soon be having our 4th meeting next month:

http://ga-ma-yo.com/

I talk to a lot of devs from all over the UK (and the world) and I think there are plenty of opportunities for networking if you live down in London but for most northerners there's maybe an event once every 3-4 months. Between Game Republic, Ga-Ma-Yo and Shindig (Sheffield Indies) there are 20+ events each year at which developers can not only network with indies but also people who work for long established studios.

There's also a lot of testing goes on between us with TestFlight invitations flying round quite regularly between developers up here. Ofcourse we don't want to give everything away to fellow developers while we're working on our games but it's also good to get feedback from your peers who may have ideas on how to improve your game that you hadn't even thought of too.