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Sketchbook Games CEO Mark Backler on developing your debut game

Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6 kicks off on April 19th
 Sketchbook Games CEO Mark Backler on developing your debut game

2021 is now well underway and the latest Pocket Gamer Connects Digital is set to bring together some of the finest voices in the games industry and beyond.

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 Sketchbook Games CEO and creative director Mark Backler who previously worked at EA, Lionhead and Sony on games including, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and the BAFTA award-winning Fable 2.

Utilising his 14 year's of experience, Backler will host a talk on 'Developing Your Debut Game'. Tell us a bit about your company?

Mark Backler: Sketchbook Games believe that video games are one of the most powerful storytelling mediums and use them to create unique, moving experiences. They’re currently working with renowned games writer Rhianna Pratchett on the multi-award-winning Lost Words: Beyond the Page, an atmospheric adventure about a young girl aspiring to be a writer.

The game is set between the pages of her diary and a fantasy land and ties the narrative into the gameplay in an unusual way, by having the player running on and interacting directly with the words in the diary.

What does your role entail?

The role is made up of building our team, setting the vision for the game, raising funding and working on promotion. As we are a small team, I wear a lot of hats.

Why did you want to work in the games industry?

I wanted to make experiences for players that excite them, move them and provide joy to them the same way that the games I played as I was growing up provided all of this and more for me.

What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into it?

Get started making your own games right now - don't wait to be taught, told or employed to do it! There are so many free tools and tutorials that whatever your age and experience you can get started today.

What are your thoughts on the industry in the last 12 months?

We're really lucky to have been a part of an industry that didn't just survive lockdown but thrived in it.

What major trends do you predict in the next 12 months?

I imagine VR will continue to grow, as well as lots more companies in the UK being purchased by overseas studios.

How has the games industry changed since you first started?

Since I started 14 years ago, the games industry has grown and diversified incredibly. There are more platforms, more players, more genres and more new technologies. It's a really exciting time for the industry.

Which part of the Connects event are you most looking forward to and why?

Seeing great talks and meeting new people. I miss physical events and this is the best replacement.

Want more?

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.

Register for Pocket Gamer Connects Digital #6 today!