You have hopefully noticed that the Scottish Games Network – the website, social channels and community as a whole – has been a lot more active recently.
This is the first step in a much bigger project for the industry here in Scotland – and a far bigger network.
The SGN was initially created in 2004 (16th anniversary coming up VERY soon) as a purely social community (a Yahoo Group no less), just as the industry started to grow and for the first time, not everyone knew each other.
The Games Industry in Context
The SGN has always been something which I’ve run in my spare time. From creating the site, to news updates to events, much of it has depended upon my ‘real’ job and family situation.
So on the occasions, I’ve worked for myself, or had no family commitments, things have been active. When that’s changed, I’ve had to reduce the time spent on the SGN.
That’s changing. I’ve spent the last 15 years working within the wider creative industries, as well as the broader digital technology sector. From the booming startup scene, through to cutting edge arts, there’s a huge amount of interest in the games sector.
Everyone out there wants to know more about the companies, the games, the tools, techniques and technologies that are being created and pioneered within the gaming world.
The Industry is Evolving
The industry itself is constantly changing and evolving. It’s far larger than many people (even those within ‘the industry’) recognise. From esports and applied (serious) games, through to games-related technologies (Delta DNA, Chilli Connect, Speech Graphics, etc…) there’s a huge amount going on in Scotland which is simply not being recognised, or getting enough attention.
So we’re changing to do just that. From a purely news-based focus (which is like pulling fucking teeth much of the time…), the SGN is going to cover the games and interactive industries in Scotland in their broadest possible sense.
That means more content, more types of content, more opportunities to engage, and building a platform to support and help the Scottish games industry achieve its full potential.
More Games, More Everything
You’ve hopefully seen the list of games Made In Scotland (60 games and counting!) It’s now being picked up by other organisations, such as Skills Development Scotland, who were delighted to have some data on the sort of extraordinary games from Scottish developers. This is a very good thing.
We’re going to ensure that’s kept updated and showcase all of those games on an ongoing basis. We’re also going to create a legacy one, listing all of the games created in Scotland, waaaay back to Menace.
We’re also going to start pulling in a lot of other games-related information. What’s happening in the world of esports? Which Scottish games streamers are worth following? Can we get them involved in playing/reviewing more Scottish games? Serious games, applied games and gamification (don’t sneer, it’s going to change the industry) are already happening at many of our universities – and you should know about them.
Universities & Academia
Talking of the universities, there are more courses, creating more graduates than ever before. Everyone knows about Abertay and Glasgow Caledonian, but Napier and UWS also offer games courses. Heriot-Watt and Glasgow School of Art are doing some fascinating things with simulation, visualisation and serious/applied games, while HW has created the Digital Story Lab, to explore narrative expression in games.
As well as that, the majority of colleges in Scotland are now offering games courses at HNC and HND levels. We have amazing people like Amanda Ford (West College) and Sarah Herzog (Fife College) engaging with industry and inspiring students across the country.
So we’re going to be covering all of that – and more.
First of all, the site itself will get an upgrade. To date I’ve been using the simple (cheap) Personal account on WordPress. It doesn’t support things like plugins, advanced SEO, or let me add different types of page (hence the Jobs, Company and Freelance directories all looking overly simplistic. I can add integrations for things like Calendars, so we’ve not listed events. All of this will change over the next few weeks.
We’re going to be exploring far editorial variety. Interviews with founders, creators and developers, industry insight from business leaders, polls, questions and requests from you (the audience). We’ll actively look at topics outside the mainstream – esports, serious games, narrative design, academia, skills & training, funding & finance, diversity, inclusion, maybe even game reviews…
Game In Scotland Returns
This isn’t just going to be written material. We’re going ‘multimedia’, as the kids say. We’re working on our first Podcast, we’ve got the SGN Twitch stream set up and we’re well into planning our first virtual event (remember ‘Game In Scotland’?)
The SGN site has always been open to writers and anyone with something to say. However, we’ll be actively soliciting new content from writers, journalists and authors who want to reach a new audience.
In addition, we’ll be asking every company to join in and tell us what they’re working on (where they can), give sneak previews of games in development (where they can), and share good news stories.
We’re also going to highlight common issues, look for ways to help the industry grow and act as a focal point for the whole ecosystem, from government, to public sector and beyond.
Everyone is Welcome
This is going to be inclusive. The SGN is for everyone involved in games: developers, leaders, academics, students, technologists, creatives, professionals, hobbyists, no matter their level of expertise.
We shouldn’t have to say this, but given the history of the network, we’re going to… This will be a welcoming and supportive network. Everyone’s welcome. We are not going to play host to any of the toxic and destructive behaviour that’s plagued the games industry (and this community) in the past.
For too long Scotland’s games sector has lacked any sort of collective voice. This is the first small step in addressing that. There’s a great deal more happening in the background which I will share with you as soon as I can.
What Do YOU Want To See?
As part of that, we want to hear from you. What would be valuable for you? For your career, for your business, for your understanding of the rapidly evolving global games market? Research? An archive? Workshops? Sign posting to the support which exists for the wider digital technology and creative industries (believe it or not, we’re part of BOTH!)
This shouldn’t be MY games network, it needs to be OUR games network.
We’re looking forward to working with you.