Now that we’re officially a whole month into 2021, it’s pretty clear that sticking up new calendars and firing the castle artillery has had a lot less of an impact on our collective fortunes than we might have hoped. That said, while the complications and general day-to-day slog of 2020 won’t hurry up and die already, the truth is we’re pretty good at 2020 at this point. In game-speak, we’ve prestiged 2020 and we’re ready to start a new game plus with maxed stats and all our high-tier loot equipped.
But let’s not get too cocky Star Fox. It’s fantastic how well the Scottish games industry has adapted to working from home, but there’s certainly no harm in anticipating what could be coming down the pipe next. With that in mind, we asked the Game Gurus what challenges they’re anticipating in 2021.
Here’s what the Gurus had to say:
SGN: 2020 was a particularly challenging year for the games industry, with everyone, with developers, publishers and retailers all having to adjust their usual working methods in response to the pandemic.
Now we’re settled into a routine with remote working and conducting most of our activities online, what do you think will be the biggest challenge facing the Scottish games industry in the next year?
Marc Williamson – CEO, Tag Games
“Covid-19 forced everyone’s hand to start working remotely. I’m really proud about how we handled it at Tag but the challenge going forward is going be how we transition back to working in the studio and perhaps continuing to support remote working at the same time for those that benefit from it. Long term I am concerned that studios could struggle to uphold their culture and just maintain and develop the magic that a group of skilled creative people can have when co-located if remote working becomes the de facto model.”
Jamie Bankhead – CEO, Konglomerate Games
“If I had to guess, one of the challenges, although likely not the biggest, will be transitioning back into office working when many fully on site companies have now gone fully remote for COVID. There may be struggles moving forward with remote/in-office hybrid approaches that will likely happen now that many employees prefer one or the other as we transition back.”
Dr. Romana Ramzan – Producer, No Code
“Over the past year, we as an industry have been forced to question our previous assumptions about remote working. We need to ask ourselves what the future of workplace flexibility will be like for the creative industries? How can we provide the collaborative environment that offices afford us while maintaining a work life balance when office and home spaces have merged into one. Offices won’t become entirely redundant, but we have to question their role.”
Colin Anderson – Director, Denki
“The biggest challenge facing the Scottish Games industry in 2021 will be the same as its biggest challenge has always been (with the possible exception of 2020) – finding, retaining, and growing audiences for the games it produces. While we do have pockets of good practice happening within Scotland it’s still not as widespread as it needs to be, and the tools and strategies it depends on still aren’t being taught early enough to those training to work in the industry.”
Jason Wagner – CEO and Founder, Ping Creates
“The industry has seen a huge boom during the pandemic as we occupy ourselves and our kids during lockdown with video games. Because of this, the industry is seeing a huge level of growth and there’s a lot more content out there to satisfy the demand. There is the risk though, that as lockdown eases, and dare I say, ends, the customer base we’ve built this growth on remembers there’s the great outdoors and at the same time competition increases with more games hitting the market. So it’s a fine line between embracing the growth and planning ahead for a change in the market place.”
Luci Holland – Composer and Project Manager, Tinderbox Collective
“The first thing that comes to mind is how do we find and nurture healthy working practices? What does working remotely and online mean for our work/life balance and routines? Are there tools we can employ to limit “zoom exhaustion”?”
Kristan Rivers – CEO and Co-founder, AdInMo
“While most companies may be settling into “a routine” for distributed working, it’s not at all “the routine”, especially for creative-led industries. I maintain that we’re all missing out on the serendipitous conversations and moments of group innovation that can only happen when people are not physically distanced. At both individual and organizational levels we will have to find new ways to maintain momentum and motivation in a working environment that is new to all of us. We are all part of the ongoing experiment of creating the #futureofwork”
There we have it. Do you agree? Do you disagree? This is just the start of the discussion. If you want to join the debate, let us know your thoughts on our Twitter feed, the Facebook group, or in the comments below.
If you work in the games sector and would like to be included in future Games Gurus columns, get in touch.