…And Then It Was Over – Game In Scotland 2014

Game In Scotland LOGOThat was fun…

Game In Scotland took place on Saturday afternoon.  This year’s event moved out of the grim and slightly sticky Fat Sam’s nightclub, which had been its home for the last eight years and moved it into the spring sunshine in Abertay University’s brand new games centre of excellence.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 12.45.34The 2014 Game In Scotland broadened its remit beyond recruitment to offer help to people considering a new start-up and young studios, looking for business advice, funding and help.  There were workshops for people looking beyond the programming and art disciplines, which pulled in the games media and writing for games, while panels on working as an indie and starting your own studio proved hugely popular.

Here’s the rundown…

Abandoning the 15 minute who we are introductory talks from studios, this year’s GIS instead offered companies and individuals the chance to give a 5 minute speed presentation.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 12.38.55The whole event kicked off with a 15 minute keynote from the amazing Cara Ellison.  Entitled Play Weird, she looked at the diversity, creativity and flat out bizarre games that are starting to hit the market and celebrated the fact that we’re beyond the usual genres and the old definition of a game is something that needs to be kicked down a flight of stairs, set fire to and buried in an old roll of carpet in a secluded wood.

It was excellent.  Then the other speakers were picked at random to come up front and… GO!

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 12.39.25The other presenters were:

Then we had an hour for visitors to visit the stands.  There were 20 companies and organisations exhibiting this year.  Companies looking for staff, companies with new games and new technologies to show and organisations who can help start-ups and companies access funding, training, staff and business advice.

The programme had been split to give visitors far more time talking to the exhibitors and make sure that the companies who came along got a chance to speak to as many people as possible.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 12.41.58The exhibitors were:

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 12.40.41At 3pm visitors were offered the chance to participate in a series of workshops.  These were in-depth 30 minute sessions which featured a number of experts from across the interactive sector.

The workshops and panelists were:

The Games Media – Exploring the specialist press.  Ways to get into games journalism and the issues the media face in the games sector.

  • Cara Ellison (Freelance writer, keynote speaker, games critic)
  • Ewan Aiton (Editor, play.tm)
  • Ben Cordell (co-owner and editor, Stick Twiddlers)
  • Dave Cook (Deputy Editor, VG247 and award-winning games journalist)

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 12.41.15Working As An Indie – What is it like to work as an independent developer?  How do you make things, get things out and survive in an increasingly busy games market?  Can you innovate and pioneer and do cool stuff on your own?

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 12.41.44Writing For Games – How do you find work as a writer in the games industry?  Has the growth of mobile made writers redundant?  What skills do you need? How do writers find developers to work with?

Starting Your Own Studio – Just how do you go about starting a new game development studio in Scotland?  Who’s out there to help.  What funding is available?  How do you grow?

The response to the workshops was wonderful.  Everyone seemed to get a lot out of the more in-depth discussion and debate.  The only complaint was that they were way too short to do more than just scratch the surface of the topics.

Then there was MORE exhibition time, more opportunities to find work, find something new and play some games…

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 12.42.44The final panel of the day was scheduled to last half an hour, but ended up over running by a good 45 minutes.  However, the audience were happy to stay and hear from a hand-picked panel talk about the Future Of Games. The final panel pulled in…

  • Cara Ellison (life saver, enthusiastic panelist, weird game promoter and writer)
  • Dave Cook (award-winning games journalist, Scotland games industry enthusiast and deputy editor)
  • Kenneth Benzies (Codeplay Ninja)
  • David Hamilton (Kiwi fondler and hobbit stalker)
  • Mark Ettle (CEO, Cobra Mobile, voice of reason)
  • Chair – Phil Harris (grizzled industry veteran, organiser, writer, panel wrangler)

It was quite a different experience from previous years and hopefully gave all of the participants more opportunities to talk, learn more about the industry, find new jobs, play new games, hear from people who not only know what they’re talking about, but who care and are happy to share their experiences and expertise.

IMG_2362A final, huge thank you has to go out to a noble and brave group of volunteers from Abertay University, who gave up their Saturday to come along, guide visitors to the right locations, handle the a/v, placate confused panelists, stroke the egos of the chair people and handle the whole event with real enthusiasm.  The gentlemen who selflessly gave so that others might learn, were:

  • Lukasz Gomula
  • Alberto Taiuti
  • James Wood
  • Jiri Klic
  • Samuel Cumming
  • Raphael Monnin
  • Keiran Jarret

You can find a whole photo set of the event here.  Another huge thank you to Lukasz Gomula, who not only took all the photos, but made them available for free.  Lukasz: you rock.

Thank you again to all of the speakers, panelists, presenters, chairs, exhibitors, volunteers and to everyone who came along.  We don’t have final figures, but we’re hoping it was the biggest Game In Scotland yet.

But how do we make it better?  How do we make it MORE awesome?  What worked for you?  What didn’t? We want your feedback.  Tell us in the comments, on Facebook, via Twitter, on LinkedIn, or even via e-mail what we can do to make Game In Scotland 2015 one of the highlights in the games industry.  Not just in Scotland, but worldwide.

Thank you all – Brian

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