Scotland’s been the birthplace of some of the world’s biggest video games. Lemmings, Grand Theft Auto and Crackdown were all created and developed here.
Minecraft was launched with support from the Scottish industry. It’s difficult to properly quantify the industry, as there are still some issues with (for example) official classifications to be ironed out. But the latest figures from representative bodies give us a clear idea of the potential contained in this rapidly-developing sector.
The big picture
The Independent Game Developers’ Association (TIGA) is the UK’s representative body for video game developers. In September 2016 it reported 1,290 jobs across 85 companies in the Scottish industry – a 25% increase on figures from 2014.
In fact, TIGA says the Scottish industry is the second-fastest growing in the UK, and the third-largest cluster after London and the south east.
Also published in September 2016, a joint study by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) created an interactive map of the UK’s games industry. The map adds games publishers to the mix, giving a total of 150 businesses in the Scottish games sector.
Working in games
The games industry needs people in design, development, animation, engineering, production and product management.
Current skills shortages are in technical development, art and design, animation, production and engineering/transmission. There are significant skills gaps in leadership and management and sales and marketing, as well as general business and finance skills.
As the sector continues to develop, there will be increasing demand for people with the technical skills to support it and help it grow.
Developing your skills
Around two-thirds of the people working in games hold undergraduate or postgraduate qualifications, usually in art/design or specialist game development/computer science. And if you’re looking to further or follow up on your studies, video games courses at Abertay University have been ranked the best in Europe by the Princeton Review survey for three years in a row.
Ukie is the only organisation offering bespoke courses for the games industry. It covers subjects like project management, marketing, metrics and analytics, media, forecasting and legals, as well as PR and resilience training.
Funding and support
The UK Games Fund invites applications from eligible companies with well-formed plans for new games. Successful applicants could receive as much as £50,000 to help create prototypes and, occasionally, to take development to the next stage.
The Indie Fund is a ‘syndicate’ of like-minded investors aiming to help independent games developers to gain and maintain financial independence. Anyone with a playable prototype can apply for help. Your email goes into a communal inbox, where any one of the syndicate members can access it. If it makes an impression on one of the investors, they’ll try to round up funding on your behalf.
The Global Domination Accelerator is a partnership between Scotland’s business development agency Scottish Enterprise and business-focused social enterprise Elevator. It periodically invites applications from games development companies in specific areas of Scotland to take part in a programme that offers coaching, workshops, networking and mentoring. It doesn’t provide financial support, but it’s a powerful way to help your business grow.
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