Glitchers is the game development studio studio behind titles including the BAFTA-nominated Sea Hero Quest, which helps the global battle against dementia, by helping scientists study spatial navigation.
The studio was originally based in London, but in 2020 relocated to Edinburgh. We asked co-founder and CEO Max Scott-Slade to fill us in on the company and its work.
Can you tell us what Glitchers is and what it does?
At Glitchers we create incredible, accessible games and put fun at the core of everything we do.
Our work spans across multiple industries beyond entertainment including healthcare, fintech and education.
Right now we have an array of exciting projects covering:
- Pocket money training
- Obesity therapy
- And our own IP multiplayer car combat game
Can you give us some info about the founders and how the company began?
Glitchers was founded by the Scott-Slade brothers who wanted to team up and bring everyone together through play. Read: That’s me and Hugo.
We found ourselves bridging the gap between gaming and other industries in such a unique way and our accomplishments over our seven year life as Glitchers speak louder than words.
Our projects have pushed forward research in Dementia by being able to detect signs up to 10 years earlier than previous methods of testing. Also we’re exploring the boundaries of how money and games can work together to teach important financial lessons through play.
Our upcoming release with a Dutch collaborator sees us pushing the boundaries in healthcare once again by focusing on another huge issue worldwide: Obesity.
While we started out using our experience in games to bring people together through play, we identified early on the ability for games to solve complex problems and now spend our time building products that fully realise that potential.
What games have you worked on?
- Chippy – A fish and chip shop simulator
- Sea Hero Quest (healthcare)
- Sea Hero Quest VR (healthcare)
- Crush your FOFO (healthcare)
- Nestlings (fintech)
- Nestlums (fintech)
- Upcoming obesity project (healthcare)
Sea Quest is something very different to your other games. Tell us about the project and how you got involved with that
Sea Hero Quest was an amazing project because it got us used to collaborating with other industries outside of gaming and outside of campaign driven products.
It was an imaginative project from the outset. By identifying a worldwide problem and having the open brief of ‘use a game to solve this problem’ we were able to collaborate deeply with leading researchers with a clear goal. The soul focus of these amazing scientists was navigational decline in relation to dementia. So we used that to help us solve the problem.
From here we set out to build an adaptive game world that would cater for existing navigation experiments and allow for a great deal of flexibility to add new experiments in an experience that looked and felt like a casual mobile game. Since casual mobile gaming was our company focus up until this point, it was a great jumping off point – but we learned so much about how science and gaming really are quite close in their creative processes.
Sea Hero Quest initially released on mobile for free and was followed up later on VR.
It created so much research data and smashed it’s one year stretch goal of 100,000 players in just 10 hours after launch. From there it expanded to reach over four million participants making in one of the largest research projects ever and generating the equivalent of over 15,000 years worth of research data for our scientists.
Why did the company move from London to Scotland?
I’ll answer how we were impacted by Covid in the same sweep. Glitchers is a small company, these kinds of projects we love to do are rare and require a deep expertise that we now possess having run with the idea of spreading games to other industries. But it’s a growing section of the games industry, one I think will expand more and more as games and technology move into more areas of peoples lives. I think a lot of people want to make games for good, but not many people know how to run a business doing it. We do.
At first it made sense to be in London, a lot of the opportunity was there, but we always found ourselves competing for the right talent we needed to expand our efforts in the games for good/games beyond entertainment space. Lots of other companies such as Google had more lucrative offerings and talent was either overly expensive for what it was or too expensive for a company of our size.
In short, we needed to go somewhere that had prized quality and talent and would allow us to focus on building these amazing products at an achievable scale.
When Covid-19 hit, our physical studio made no less sense to keep on. It was already way too big for us and we took the opportunity to re-assess our place in the world. Our mindset shifted to being open to remote workers and what London had to offer in the short-to-medium term evaporated. The idea of moving the whole studio was suddenly an opportunity we could chase after. So we did it.
There are lots of reasons we chose Edinburgh in Scotland.
- The universities produce amazingly talented developers – we need more of them
- Easy access to London, should we need to go down. Some of our clients are still based there
- Good airport where we can access Europe easily
From the heart:
- We love Scotland and the people here
- Our family has history in Scotland (It’s literally in our name: Scott-Slade!)
- After lockdown 1 we needed more space and a better quality of life
- Korina (Neonhive) has been telling us we should move to Scotland
What do you know about the games industry North of the border?
I promise you I won’t just say Rockstar. Some of worlds best games are coming out of the UK and there’s a lot that Scotland can answer for. Other companies we have now met virtually like Tag Games are working with massive IP and we have always respected Denki’s ability to create lovely games. We hope to add to that list of quality companies in Scotland by setting down our roots here.
Newcastle is also a bed of talent and not too far away – we recently hired our new PM from there, she’s awesome and we’re excited to explore more of the whole country available with a broader mindset to accept that life has to come first and making games has to be part of that in the best possible way.
Our London blinkers are well and truly off, the spell has been lifted! We still have a big soft spot for the place and many many friends down there.
What are your plans for the next 12-18 months?
We plan on growing the team, remotely for now and hopefully (when we can) re-open a physical studio in Edinburgh with a giant Glitchers neon sign adding our touch of gaming fantasy to the mad skylines of this incredible city.
Xbox S/X or PS5?
I really really really wanted a PS5 until I saw how big it was. Then I wanted an X, but somehow during pre-orders I still ended up with a PS5 and Hugo (my brother) has a Series X. I think the short answer is both right? Still absolutely loving everything on the Switch so just gimme everything!
Are there any specific types of people you’d like to hear from (audio, marketing, developers, publishers, funding partners, etc. etc. etc.)
We’d love to hear from everyone to say hi, please welcome us warmly! I know there are so many of you out there we haven’t met and the work Brian is doing to connect everyone hopefully means we can all be friends soon.
While you’re at it. Add Drive Buy to your Steam wishlist and help the studio bring its next game to life…