Holyrood Plays The Game

Originally published by Buzz Magazine on 30/3/12

According to the Independent Game Developers’ Association, the video games industry “has grown up largely unloved and ignored by the political and economic powers in our country.” That looks to be changing as a cross-party Scottish Parliament group on the video games industry held its first meeting this month.

Brian Baglow, who runs scottishgames.net, was at the “packed” meeting. Buzz caught up with the PR and digital media Freelancer recently to pick his brain about the state of the Scottish Games Industry.  He was surprisingly optimistic, and citedDenki Games as a perfect example of how Scottish talent has kept ahead of the curve.  Denki’s BAFTA winning Quarrel (pictured) was released on iPhone and iPad last year, and on Xbox live in January.

“There are massive reasons for optimism, because the future is consumer driven.” Baglow adds, “Technology is becoming more widespread and available and it’s democratising, exposing more people than ever to games and gaming.”

The only thing holding us back, according to Baglow, is a classic Scottish trait: “In Scotland we’re not so big at blowing our own trumpets. You know what software people are like, they’re not the most gregarious people going.” He says “This is why I started scottishgames.net, to create a focal point. There are loads of fantastically creative people, a lot of very clever companies, but nobody knows that there’s anybody else out there.  Also I was doing PR for all these companies and no one would write about them.  For a country this small, you’re relying on media from the other side of the world to find out what each other is doing, that doesn’t work.”

As well as news going abroad, many Scots developers have left and joined big companies around the world.  “I was phoned by BBC Scotland the other week saying that in The Darkness 2 one of the protagonists is Angus or Jimmy or something.” Baglow tells us “He’s a ginger haired Scot, apparently.  He wears a green hooped football top and basically chibs people with a broken bottle.  Should we be worried?  My response was no.  It’s a game.  Given the amount of Scots working in the industry worldwide I’m not surprised.  Let’s just calm down and enjoy the game.”

To read our full interview with Brian, in which he talks of his time as part of the original Grand Theft Autoteam, check out the print version of Buzz, coming to a coffee house near you.

Developer Diary: A year in Scottish games 

January – Scottish Games Jam.  A competition to create a game in 48 hours which attracts teams from across the country.

June to August – Dare To Be Digital. Teams of 5 students from all around the world design a prototype game.

August – Dare Protoplay.  The Scotland’s biggest video gaming education and consumer event.  Caird Hall, Dundee. Free.  Try out the Dare To Be Digital entries.

August – Edinburgh Interactive Festival. “A mix of business, education and fun through a focused industry conference.” Also a chance to play some new games!

October – Sick Kids Save Point.  Scotland’s 24 hour video games marathon. Supported by Rockstar North, over the last two years it has raised £28,000 for the Sick Kids Hospital in Edinburgh. Play games, save kids.

Fancy making your own video game?
Thanks to YoYo games in Dundee anyone can design and make a video game.   Just download the free app ‘GameMaker’ from yoyogames.com. If your game is really good like They Need To Be Fed (pictured) they’ll even publish it onto the app stores and you could make some money!


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