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Taking the Northern Powerhouse to GDC 2016

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Creative Industries, Export, Games Industry, United States

I was very pleased to be asked by the UKTI Northern Powerhouse team to lead the mission to the Game Developers Conference (GDC - the world's largest and longest-running professionals-only game industry event) 2016 on behalf of the games industry in Yorkshire and the North.

It’s a HUGE event in the beautiful-but-large city of San Francisco, and quite daunting for developers who have never been before. I have found that it’s immensely useful and reassuring to them to have someone approachable and knowledgeable there to help.

Virtual Reality at GDC - Photo courtesy of Jamie Sefton

At GDC, the show floor is buzzing, the training and boot camps are fantastic places to learn new things, plus the talks and “Making Of” games sessions are infinitely interesting and a game geek’s dream! Also, don’t forget the separate Game Connection business “speed dating” event that happens in San Francisco at the same time, which is a superb place to meet a lot of publishers and platform-holders in a short amount of time.

Finally, many journalists from the games press from the US and UK attend both conferences in San Francisco, so it’s a really great way to find essential contacts and get coverage for your new games.

With the experience of attending GDC over many years, I have helped UKTI with providing information to the games companies on where to stay, how to prepare, and what parties to attend – essential “on the ground” information to mainly first-time GDC attendees. Also setting up access to Game Connection for the attendees, as well as arranging multiple meetings with major platform-holders and publishers.

I hope that both the companies we’re taking to GDC, and those we’ve set up meetings with and invited to the UKTI networking events, make those essential contacts that can lead to more business. You get to meet the companies – and more importantly, the individuals – who make the decisions and can really help your business grow. You also get to meet companies from around the globe in one place – if you need to strike a deal with a Free-to-Play Chinese mobile publisher, or look for the best international platform for your Virtual Reality game – GDC has everyone there.

Personally, I’m looking forward to meeting new people and making new international connections in the games industry – it’s a global event, so it’s fantastic to get to know games industry contacts from the Far East, South America and, of course, the USA. You also get a real sense of the zeitgeist – current trends and what the industry is talking about. Plus, it’ll be great to see a lot of new games and play some of them!

The strengths of Game Development in the North

In 2003, the games companies themselves initially set up the Yorkshire and Northern England business network, Game Republic, to give the industry here a louder voice. Companies from the North really just get on and do it – they have the talent and drive to create successful businesses and make brilliant games.

The people are also just fantastic – friendly, approachable and very generous with advice and contacts – they realise that by collaborating and sharing information, the whole industry here gets stronger and presents more opportunities to be successful.

Plus of course the companies in the North – both large and small – make some incredible games such as WipEout, Grand Theft Auto, Oddworld, Broken Sword, Worms, LEGO Star Wars, Star Citizen and many, many more fantastic titles. I’m always so excited by the huge range of talented companies here that continues to grow, and how they get to work on the very latest cutting-edge tech such as Virtual Reality.

Game Developers from the North of England offer exceptional talent in games development (programming, art, music, sound, design, technology, production, writing), great experience (more than 30 years of making games), are straight-talking when it comes to discussing business, and a great sense of fun – this is the games industry after all!

I’ve seen new, small companies go out to GDC with a good game idea and exceptional talent, meet the right people there, and in just a few years build a company that makes amazing games and brings in millions of pounds for the UK economy. UKTI’s relationship with GDC has made a real difference to companies here in the North already – I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

I would really recommend joining a trade mission; it’ll give you and your company the contacts, new information and insider-knowledge that will really help your business. Plus, it’s a huge amount of fun too!

Find and join other Northern Powerhouse missions.

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