ON T H E P U L S E O F T H E C I T Y ’ S BU S I NE S S C OMMUN I T Y
04 NEWS & EVENTS
News and events, including details on the upcoming AI and Robotics conference.
08 RAISING THE GAME
Get to know your Inkle from your Ninja Theory in our spotlight on the city’s studios.
Ready player one? This issue, we’re deep diving into the Cambridge gaming cluster, hearing from the big names, the rising stars, the educators, the legal brains and more about the challenges and opportunities on the horizon for the industry. Cambridge is at the forefront of this unique, fast moving sector, with around 50 active gaming studios in the city generating tens of millions a year between them. From world- famous names like Frontier and Jagex to hopeful start-ups like Minibeast, the scene is thriving. That’s partly thanks to the excellent games development courses on offer here and their associated festivals and student games companies, providing a leg-up to talented young developers (hear from Cambridge Regional College on inspiring the next generation on page 22), and of course, the unique Cambridge ecosystem plays a role too. Another factor is the city’s deep links to the history of computing, which we find out more about in our spotlight on the Centre for Computing History. Beginning life as a personal collection of vintage computers that spiralled out of control, this astounding archive now totals more than 40,000 artefacts which, together, tell the story of the Information Age and Cambridge’s important role in it. Hear from the man behind the centre and find out more about its mission on page 26. Also in this issue, local start-up VividQ shares its ambitions to become a bona fide tech giant with some super-cool computer- generated holography applications (36), social venture Young and Learning gives the lowdown on its sustainable kids toys (38), and Cambridge entrepreneur Harriet Kelsall shares her story so far, from opening three jewellery shops to writing a successful business book (46). Enjoy the issue and keep an eye out for number 7, out in May!
15 GOOD GAMIFICATION
TTP looks at how gamification is being used to make unappealing tasks more enjoyable.
16 CULTIVATING DIVERSITY
Jagex talks equality in the gaming industry, sharing what it’s doing to improve inclusivity.
18 THE POWER OF PLAY
Raspberry Pi on how video games can be a gateway to essential computer science skills.
21 PROTECTING IP IN GAMES
Patent attorneys Appleyard Lees explain why safeguarding IP is crucial for games developers.
22 GAME THEORY
CRC’s games development course leader on equipping young people for the gaming sector.
25 STEP UP YOUR GAME
Fire Tech looks at ways for young people to get a foothold in the gaming industry.
26 COMPUTER LOVE
Take a look around Cambridge’s incredible archive of vintage computers.
32 TECH BYTES
The latest news from the fizzing Cambridge Cluster.
36 PITCH PERFECT
Local start-up VividQ gives the lowdown on its cutting-edge holography applications.
38 DOING GOOD & DOING WELL
The Cambridge social ventures making an impact. Up this issue: Young and Learning.
NICOLA FOLEY EDITOR IN CHIEF
42 SPACE EXPLORATION
A business venue with a fun and foodie twist: Cambridge Cookery on Purbeck Road.
44 THE BIG THREE
EDITORIAL EDITOR IN CHIEF Nicola Foley 01223 499459 email@example.com CHIEF SUB EDITOR Beth Fletcher SENIOR SUB EDITOR Siobhan Godwood
CONTRIBUTORS Matthew Gooding, Dan Lock, Charlotte Griffiths, Simon Ambroz, Sam Bose, Mac Bowley, Susanne Bauer, Chris Baker
Local entrepreneurs on the three professionals who helped them succeed.
46 JEWEL IN THE CROWN
SUB EDITOR Elisha Young SUB EDITOR Felicity Evans
Cambridge jeweller Harriet Kelsall on her remarkable business journey so far.
ADVERTISING GROUP AD MANAGER Sam Scott-Smith 01223 499457 firstname.lastname@example.org AD SALES MANAGER Ed Grundy 01223 499463 email@example.com
DESIGN & PRODUCTION DESIGN DIRECTOR Andy Jennings DESIGN MANAGER Alan Gray EDITORIAL DESIGN Man-Wai Wong, Lucy Woolcomb, Emma Di'Iuorio AD PRODUCTION Man-Wai Wong firstname.lastname@example.org
51 LUNCH AL DESKO
Step away from the supermarket meal deal and discover the city’s tastiest office lunches.
54 OUT OF OFFICE
MANAGING DIRECTORS Andy Brogden & Matt Pluck 01223 499450
Where to spend your annual leave and what to spend your paycheque on...
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ISSUE 01 I 6
Around 650 professionals from the fields of AI and robotics will descend on Cambridge from 23 to 26 March for Human Robot Interaction 2020, the latest edition of a leading international conference. It’s a fitting choice of location, given our city’s ever-growing contribution to these fields, and will take place across three days at venues including the Corn Exchange and The Guildhall. Professor Tony Belpaeme, professor of Robotics at Ghent and AI & Robotic Conference Plymouth universities and general chair of the conference’s organising committee, said that Cambridge won at the bid stage because of the city being the setting for key moments in science and its outstanding global brand, plus its transport links and appeal to international delegates. “Perhaps the most important factor of all is the opportunity for scientists working in this field to meet each other, to discuss future collaborations and research projects, The latest developments in the world of Cambridge business, innovation, start-ups and networking
and to talk to potential scientists to join their teams,” he explains. “This means that the benefits of the conference last long after the three-day meeting.” Talks and workshops on the programme include a keynote speech from Ayanna Howard entitled Are We Trusting AI Too Much? Examining Human-Robot Interactions in the Real World, plus in-depth explorations of themes such as AI and social norms, and robots and the performing arts. humanrobotinteraction.org
Now Teach is looking for 100 people from Cambridge and the surrounding areas who are ready to change career and retrain as teachers. The education charity, which has now recruited more than 200 people to retrain, gives expert advice and support to help people successfully become teachers, and is particularly seeking successful people working in areas where there is a shortage, such as maths, sciences, computing and languages. Now Teach was co-founded by former journalist Lucy Kellaway, who in her late fifties gave up her job at the Financial Times to retrain as a maths teacher. “I decided to become a teacher at 58 because I realised I wasn’t getting any better at my job,” she CHARITY SEEKS STEM PROFESSIONALS TO RETRAIN AS TEACHERS
explains. “I set up Now Teach because there wasn’t a straightforward way for experienced career-changers like me to get into teaching.” Following a successful pilot group in the area last year, Now Teach is recruiting experienced people to change career, and train and teach in local schools, shaping the workforce of tomorrow. “We’re looking for people – with a desire to teach young people – who have significant experience at work,” continues Lucy. “You’ve seen something of life and you want to share that with young people.” nowteach.org.uk
STEM COW ABOUT CAMBRIDGE sculptures grazing on the city’s green
How can you give your teams more creative confidence? How can you reduce stress in the workplace? How can you improve the productivity of an organisation without losing the fun? These questions and more will be answered at a session by Cambridge Network on building a company culture for employee engagement. Taking place on 2 April, the workshop will provide actionable steps to help you establish a positive company culture, consider Company Culture Workshop
Launching on 30 March is Cows About Cambridge, a six-week, city- wide art project that will see more than 40 life-size, hand-painted cow
spaces. The bovine beauty that caught Catalyst’s eye is the STEM Cow, designed by artist Kelly Stanford and sponsored by Riverlane, Europe’s leading quantum software company. The sculpture received its finishing touches last week as more than 100 scientists visited Herd HQ, to add their signatures to this unique 3D canvas. The Cows about Cambridge art trail will be delivered by creative producers Wild in Art, in partnership with local children’s charity, Break. It is supported by Cambridge Business Improvement District (BID), official travel partner, Thameslink, and other businesses. cowsaboutcambridge.co.uk
why it matters, and look at case studies of how other organisations have adapted their cultures. cambridgenetwork.co.uk
Local firms join forces for homelessness initiative
With the financial help and expertise of Cambridge businesses, Allia is leading an innovative project to create a series of modular units that will become supported homes for the homeless in the city. A partnership with local homeless charity Jimmy’s, the project will provide six high-quality units, each featuring a fitted kitchen, living space, bathroom, washing machine and separate bedroom. These micro homes, which will initially take up residence on the grassy lawn adjacent to the Christ the Redeemer Church (Newmarket Road), have been specifically designed to be used on temporary sites available at low or no cost, and will be relocated to another such site within the three-year period of the planning consent. This approach enables the future project costs to be kept affordable. Residents of the units will benefit from private accommodation available for as long as they need it, and be given intensive personalised support
gives more stability for a year or two, so that they can put down some roots. They will receive intensive support from Jimmy’s, the Cambridge homelessness charity, and this, together with a private home, will hopefully stabilise their lives. It’s about breaking the cycle of homelessness for people who are in the system but aren’t getting a good outcome from it.” The project has only been possible thanks to donations from organisations such as Hill and Howard Group, as well as the professional services provided on a pro bono basis by companies including Barr Ellison. “This is about supporting those most in need in our community,” says Barr Ellison property planner Elizabeth Deyong. “We have a long relationship with Allia and admire the work they do. This pioneering approach to extricating people from homelessness and poverty will make a real difference to our community.”
on site. When the units move to another location in the city, residents have the choice of continuing to live in their homes or moving on to more permanent types of accommodation. “For some homeless individuals, the hostel system and short-term, move-on accommodation in Cambridge doesn’t always work,” explains Martin Clark, CEO of Allia Impact. “We want to provide something that’s a little bit different, that
Cambridge’s video games community is one of the most prolific of its kind in the UK, with big studios and indie creators churning out a wide range of titles. Matthew Gooding finds out what makes this growing cluster tick
LEFT Heaven’s Vault,agameby Cambridge-based InkleStudios
he games industry is booming, and it’s no surprise Cambridge ideas and talent are at the heart
of one of the UK’s most vibrant business sectors. Figures released earlier this year by Ukie, the trade body sector, showed that games development and associated activity generate £2.87bn gross value added (GVA) each year, providing over 47,000 full-time jobs. Despite this, gaming is rarely more than a footnote when it comes to discussing the strengths of the UK economy, with the sector hindered by outdated, negative perceptions. But the times, they are a-changin’. “People always parallel games to cinema – and there are similarities,” says Jon Ingold, narrative director at Cambridge studio, Inkle. “Early cinema was all about people getting hit by trains, and then the later stuff becomes more about emotion and discussion and tension and character drama. Gaming is on a similar path, it’s just about finding space for that and getting the audience to trust you enough to be able to do things.” According to Ukie’s data, Inkle is one of 47 active games companies in Cambridge, between them employing over 850 people and generating £28.7m GVA a year. The studio has made a name for itself with narrative- driven titles such as the Bafta-nominated 80 Days and Heaven’s Vault, an archaeology- themed titled that came out last year to
great critical acclaim. Jon and co-founder Joe Humphrey started the company in 2011 when the pair were working at Sony’s now defunct Guerrilla Cambridge studio. “The reason the company exists is to discover how good storytelling in games can be,” he says. “I did a maths degree, but I always wanted to be a writer. No one would let me write novels, so I found my way into games as a compromise between doing something creative and something technical. “For me, the aim is always to make games with real humans in them, because very few games manage that. It’s an interesting challenge technically and artistically, and when you get it right, it’s really special. Sometimes, even when games have good
The difficulty is that you always have to give the player something to do, so what are the different things you can make the player do?"
characters, the mechanics end up being a bit clunky and unrewarding. So you have to get through a gun fight or a challenge to have another character moment. “The difficulty is that you always have to give the player something to do, so what are the different things you can make the player do? That’s often the starting point for us; if the player isn’t just walking around shooting everything in sight, then what can we make them do instead?” Rather than raiding tombs and running away from monsters, players in Heaven’s Vault spend time on more cerebral pursuits, uncovering artefacts and deciphering inscriptions. Like a real archaeologist, rather than a bad Indiana Jones clone. “People tend to initially think it’s quite slow, but it builds and builds, and when you start to understand the culture, people really get into it,” Jon explains. “That was a real design challenge, making it compulsive without the combat element that is bread and butter for a lot of games. Starting Inkle has been completely life-changing and it has meant I’ve been able to do the things I love every day with some degree of success, which is very humbling.” While Inkle is typical of many of the small studios in Cambridge, with a core team of four and a larger group of 11 staff who work on specific projects, the city is also home to several bigger firms working on blockbuster titles. Though Guerrilla bit the dust in 2017, Frontier Developments has been on a roll in recent years, following the success of Elite Dangerous, a follow-up to the classic 1980s space trading game Elite, which has gone from strength to strength since its release in 2014.
ABOVE AgroupofpeopleplayingJagex’s RuneScapeataLANparty
Buoyed by this success, and that of follow-up releases such as Planet Coaster and Jurassic World Evolution, the company, founded by video games legend David Braben, now occupies swanky, purpose-built headquarters at Cambridge Science Park. Also soon to be in new premises is Ninja Theory, which is building a new base on Newmarket Road, complete with a gaming pub on the ground floor. It was acquired by Microsoft in 2018, but operates autonomously and delivers ground-breaking content such as Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, a game that won widespread acclaim for its portrayal of psychosis. A follow-up is in the works, while the studio has also launched Project Insight, a collaboration with the University of Cambridge combining game design, clinical neuroscience and cutting-edge technology to work on new methods of therapy for mental disorders. Perhaps the best-known name in the Cambridge Cluster is Jagex, publisher of
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RuneScape, the world’s longest running massive multiplayer online game. Initially the brainchild of brothers Andrew, Paul and Ian Gower, RuneScape will celebrate its 20th birthday in 2021 and is, apparently, more popular than ever, having welcomed a record number of players to its game worlds in 2019. “Community has always been at the heart of RuneScape,” says Jagex’s Rich Eddy of the game’s enduring popularity. “Players interact with each other, build relationships outside the game and have been on the journey with us over the last 20 years.”
Indeed, players are now directly influencing the way Old School RuneScape (the company’s retro title) expands, with all new developments being put to a player vote before they are implemented in the game. As you can imagine, RuneScape isn’t going anywhere, but Rich says Jagex is also looking to expand its horizons to ensure it continues to thrive in a changing industry. “Most of our team work on RuneScape and Old School RuneScape,” he says. “But we’re looking to expand our portfolio and have a new game in the early stages of development and production. We’re also talking to other studios about how we can help them bring their games to life. We have years of experience of running the back-end stuff, maintaining a live game and keeping
We have years of experience of running the back-end stuff and maintaining a live game. With the rise of different publishing services, I think more firms like ours will look to partner with smaller studios to help take their titles to market"
FUN AT CAMBRIDGE GAMING FESTIVALS
ABOVE TheFXPFestival,which isheldatCambridgeRegionalCollege
Underpinning the Cambridge games cluster are its student gaming festivals, which play a key role in inspiring the next generation of talent. Brains Eden has been attracting university students to Cambridge from around Europe for the last 12 years. Held at Anglia Ruskin University, the games jam sees teams working up new concepts and networking with some of the biggest names in the industry. For the younger generations, the FXP Festival offers an introduction to the world of games development. Now in its fifth year, the festival takes place at Cambridge Regional College and is open to children in school years 8 to 11, as well as those in further education. It attracts teams from schools and colleges around the city and beyond. “The objective is to get computer science students, as well as those on art and design courses, together for an exciting multidisciplinary challenge,” Joanna Colley, one of the organisers, told Cambridge Catalyst . “We don’t just want it to be about technical skills, which is why we’re introducing new categories this year for best game concept and best physical game. The concept competition will see the students produce a storyboard, create characters and map out what the game world might look like, and the physical game design will centre around using craft materials to create a board game or card game. “The main competition will remain the same, with the students working to create a game based on a surprise theme, which they find out on the day, with the aim of having a playable game by the end of the weekend. We hope the new categories will help open up the competition to more students and different demographics.” Joanna says the festival, which is backed by CRC, North Cambridge Academy and Jagex, is a useful way to open the students’ eyes to the opportunities available in the gaming sector. “The careers aspect is really important,” she says. “By using the world of gaming and technology, we can show the students how the things in the classroom can translate into interesting job opportunities.” FXP 2020 is taking place from 4 to 6 July. The weekend is free for participating teams, but the organisers are always on the look-out for new partners. See fxpfestival.com
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The thing that makes being independent worthwhile is that you can try things bigger studios can’t do, because they can’t afford to take risks. That gives us a space, a natural niche to make things that can’t be made by anyone else"
might not be from a gaming background, but who enjoy playing games and can bring a different perspective. The level of expertise in the city is breathtaking.” Anthony says the supportive developer community has helped MiniBeast grow. “The Cambridge Game Devs monthly meet-up is really useful,” he says. “You can chat with other people in the same boat as you, ask questions and share the problems you’re having. The indie scene in Cambridge and the wider region with places like Norwich, where I studied, is really great.” Jon adds: “There’s a strong developer community, which means there’s always a great pool of people around. So when we needed artists for Heaven’s Vault, we knew who we wanted, and then when the project finished, a lot of them were able to move on to jobs elsewhere. You get a nice community of talent, you know what people can do and where to find them.” He and his team are now working on a new game, an as-yet untitled Arthurian epic that plays as a tactics-style boardgame, which is set for release later this year. “Gaming is a very fast-moving environment and it’s an industry of bubbles,” Jon says. “At the end of 2011, when we started, we were at the end of a bubble and there were indie games creators generating vast quantities of money. “There was a period there when it looked like the big players wouldn’t get back on their feet. But now actually the big developers and the triple-A titles are very strong indeed, and indies are struggling to survive in that market. But it’s likely to swing back again soon, and the thing that makes being independent worthwhile is that you can try things bigger studios can’t do, because they can’t afford to take the risks. That gives us a space, a natural niche to make things that can’t be made by anyone else.”
IMAGES Stills fromMustDashAmigos,agame from Cambridge-basedMiniBeastGameStudios
players safe and happy, which we think can benefit other companies. With the rise of different publishing services, I think more firms like ours will look to partner with smaller studios to help take their titles to market.” One small studio at the start of its journey is MiniBeast, which released its first product, multiplayer racing game Must Dash Amigos, last year. Anthony Brunton-Douglas, who co-founded the company with friend Ben Lowther, says: “We wanted to make a fun game that we’d enjoy playing. Mario Kart was a big influence, and we decided on the theme because we were drinking Mexican beer at the time!” He adds: “We’d been working on the game in our spare time, and only really started to take it seriously after we showed it at the
Norwich Games Festival and got a really positive response.” After a successful launch on Steam and Xbox One, Must Dash Amigos has now made its way to the Nintendo Switch. “It’s the first game we’ve designed from scratch, so to see people streaming it and having a good time playing it is amazing,” Anthony says. “We’re working on a prototype for a new game now, which we want to pitch to investors, so we’re going to take our time and get it right.” So what makes Cambridge such a gaming hotspot? For Rich, being part of the wider tech cluster is key. “The university is the starting point for everything, because it attracts great people to the area,” he says. “You’ve got access to an ecosystem of tech people such as data scientists, who
Dan Lock, human factors consultant at TTP, asks where gamification can make a difference in healthcare
n a world where everyone is increasingly inundated with competing demands for
less amenable to a good gamification solution. Users of inhalers, for instance, often find it difficult to synchronise pressing the canister and inhaling. The game mechanics in many sports games require this sort of timing skill, and incorporating these ideas into an app could be one way to both engage and upskill inhaler users. Here in Cambridge, a device and app that turns the chest physiotherapy exercises of children with cystic fibrosis into a games session is an example of gamification done well. Playphysio transforms the child’s physiotherapy device into a breath- activated controller for games on their smartphone. Each physiotherapy ‘blow’ then makes their character perform an action in a game. Children say they enjoy the exercises that previously were a burden on them and on family life. In addition, prompts in the games encourage them to complete more and better physiotherapy that could make a real difference for their health. Clinical trials are ongoing, but early feedback from nurses indicates the app transforms the engagement of children with chest physiotherapy. So, here are two principles for good gamification: aim to engage the user’s intrinsic motivation rather than offering mere rewards, and target the right task or behaviour, in particular those that require skill or endurance. By doing this, and taking advantage of the decades of R&D the games industry has done into game mechanics, we can find sure- fire gamification solutions in healthcare – and beyond. For more TTP insights into product and technology development, visit ttp.com/blog
engage us to perfect skills, and reward us with the satisfaction of seeing everything slot into place, narratively or visually, when we win. But many gamification solutions adopt some of the trappings of games – points, rewards, leader boards – without any of the fun. Often this is because the task itself doesn’t provide enough to work with. External rewards for doing something boring over and over again will capture your interest for only as long as the reward appeals to you, and if there are shortcuts to game the system you can be sure people will find them. This is because external rewards do not alter how you feel and what you think about the activity in question. As the educator Alfie Kohn puts it, “A child promised a treat for learning or acting responsibly has been given every reason to stop doing so when there is no longer a reward to be gained.” Gamification is done well when a user enjoys each repetition because it has become intrinsically motivating. Several companies now use VR platforms to improve patient engagement and motivation for rehabilitation exercises. Motion detection technology places an avatar of the patient in a virtual reality where their exercises are combined with gamified activities, like lifting weights, for example. Such solutions can be tuned to recognise and track patient progress, offering another way to engage them. Creating intrinsically rewarding
their time and attention, ‘gamification’ has become a popular way to make unappealing tasks more engaging, motivating and fun. Many apps attempt to use game elements to help us form positive habits like saving money or exercising regularly. But gamification also has a place in healthcare, where it promises to improve patient engagement, treatment adherence and self-care skills. Last year, I came away from a gamification seminar in Cambridge with the impression that more or less any health-related behaviour could benefit from gamification. But if it were
that simple, why do many attempts at gamification rapidly lose their appeal? Game designers are true experts in creating experiences that players come to find intrinsically rewarding. Successful games provide just- manageable challenges,
experiences is important, but so is selecting the right problems for
gamification. If the desired behaviour does not include a repeated task that requires skill or endurance, then it will be
CULTIVATING DIVERSITY: WHERE THERE’S A WILL
Susanne Bauer, Senior Localisation Specialist at Jagex, on why diversity matters in the games industry
igher levels of racial and gender diversity have a positive impact on business. This has
out’ by the lack of women. A ‘Women at Jagex’ chat room was set up, and was quickly followed by a lunchtime meet- up, which encouraged women from all over the business to come together and network. Our initial goals were simple: more internal support for women, and to help inspire young women to seek out a career in the games industry. The first external event we attended was a career fair at an all-girls school in London, where we shared insights about the many different career paths in our sector – coding, game design, art, leadership roles, translation, analytics, IT, web development and so on.
been shown time and time again, for example in the large-scale McKinsey study in 2015. Even if you ignore the morality of it – which you definitely shouldn’t – diversity is commercially advantageous. This is a reality that the games industry, despite its traditional roots as a nerdy white boys’ club, is waking up to – and the doors are gradually opening for women, people of colour, LGBTQ+ and other minorities. At Jagex, this change began in January 2018 when a colleague, who had recently joined, said she felt ‘weirded
ABOVE Susanne Bauer has been instrumental in turning around the culture at Jagex, increasing inclusivity
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By the end of the event, all the girls created a playable level of a game. It was hard getting the fledgling game gurus to vacate their desks – but soon everyone gathered for a presentation ceremony”
Obviously chat channels for women and LGBTQ+ groups alone didn’t magically create a big shift in the company, but it helped us feel validated – and this was important. As the group grew in size and confidence, a change in internal attitudes followed; International Women’s Day is a good example. For IWD2019, we organised a Reddit AMA (that made it to the front page!), which featured women from all kinds of positions within the company, answering questions about their jobs. We also published a video featuring some of the awesome ladies working at Jagex. And to celebrate with our RuneScape community, we published some new lore about one of the game’s popular female characters. Female staff also received a copy of Women in Gaming by Meagan Marie, along with jackets and shirts designed for women. Receiving some suitably- tailored swag really meant something: after half a lifetime in male-dominated spaces, seeing corporate-branded
clothes that weren’t unisex or sized for men was quite special. Other initiatives have followed. We attended the European Women in Games Conference in London, which was co-sponsored by Jagex. We also sponsored the first Cambridge Pride 2019 (we produced a rainbow- coloured company logo shirt that our group wore on the day). We will be sponsoring Cambridge Pride 2020 as Gold Sponsors, to help this new, local initiative grow. Jagex also hosted a workshop for girls aged eight to 12 in collaboration with Girls’ Games Lab, where we spent the afternoon teaching them how to make their first game. Step by step, our would-be developers added animations, physics, ‘behaviours’ and sounds. Every change was instantly tested and lessons were learned, including the value of the magical ‘Save’ button! By the end of the event, all the girls created a playable level of a game. It was hard getting the fledgling game
gurus to vacate their desks – but soon everyone gathered in the canteen for a presentation ceremony, and every participant received her certificate. One of the most gratifying achievements has been the noticeable shift in the company culture. The freedom to talk openly about D&I issues has led to many positive developments, such as a code of conduct for internal chatrooms, improved use of inclusive language in internal documentation and within our game itself. We’re also working with RuneScape players on LGBTQ+ representation, and we are looking forward to welcoming a group of players to our office to openly talk about diversity. When asked how all of this has had a positive impact for them, one colleague said that Jagex is “the first workplace where I've felt welcome for who I am”, and another that forums such as the LGBTQ+ group “have been one of the places I've felt able to open up a little”. Most recently, Jagex signed up as a founding partner of the #RaiseTheGame pledge. This is a new games industry-wide diversity pledge that seeks to improve equality, diversity and inclusivity across the sector. Through signing up we have dedicated ourselves to three pledge pillars, which consist of: creating a diverse workforce; shaping inclusive and welcoming places to work; reflecting greater diversity in our work. Looking to the future, we aim to raise awareness even further, gain more allies, introduce internal and external mentorship programmes, and to increase the amount of work we do for BAME groups. I hope our success can serve as a template for others who feel like their workplace environments are very homogenous, and who yearn for change. All it takes is some will and some togetherness. From there, who knows how far you might go?
IMAGES Exploring outside of the games industry's staffing comfort zone is already reaping rewards
Mac Bowley, learning manager at Raspberry Pi, explains how video games can be a gateway to acquiring essential computer science skills – for all ages
t the Raspberry Pi Foundation, we’ve made it our mission to put the power of computing
as long as they have been around. As video games became popular, during the 1980s, many games were only available as printed instructions in the programming language BASIC, which were included in computer magazines. Players had to enter the code line by line before they were able to play the game. This offered would-be computer scientists a framework for experimentation: keen gamers could try changing the code after typing it in, to see what would happen. The fun of the games allowed these young developers to build a passion for tinkering with computers that could turn into a career. Fast forward to today, almost everyone has played a video game of some kind, with many playing daily. They have become a part of our shared culture and, if you speak to young people and ask them what they want to do when they grow up, you would be surprised how many of them want to be involved in the games industry in some way – either as a developer, a journalist or even a gaming YouTuber (which is an actual job now). It therefore makes sense to use games as teaching tools for this new generation. Games make great teaching tools for two main reasons; they are engaging and they force you to model concepts in a computer system. Much of computer science involves modelling real world systems in a computational form. When you are playing computer games, you intuit the meaning of the modelled systems automatically. You know, for example, that the health that appears at the top of your screen is just a number, but you also know that it is a representation of your character’s wellbeing and when it reaches zero you
and digital making into the hands of people around the world. I work as an educator at Raspberry Pi, and because I studied video game design, I love creating lessons that guide learners through the process of making their own video game. Watching a learner take an idea for a game, turn it into a virtual reality and show it off to their friends is hugely enjoyable. To some, it can seem like a superpower: they are so used to playing games that getting to be on the other side is a real watershed moment for them. Humans are naturally adept at making games – watch any child play for a little while and you will see them spontaneously create rules and games to entertain themselves. Video games have been a gateway to computer science education for almost
will die. When creating video games, this process is reversed. You begin with the end goal – for example, gravity pulling objects towards the floor – and find a way to represent that in your game. This process is called modelling and applies to a huge range of computer science problems: the skills used to model things in games are transferable to other areas. Video games offer an engaging way to practise essential computer science skills. So what can we all do to take advantage of this? If you are a parent with young children who play games, you should talk to them about the games they are playing. Be curious yourself, and make sure they know it is an open invitation to share what they like about the game. Find out the models they are aware of and the strategies they are applying – you will find some strong computer science and problem-solving skills
As educators, we have to use games wisely. There is currently a bit of a backlash against games in educational resources, with some feeling that they alienate female students"
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living just below the surface. If they are interested in progressing their skills, you can sign them up for one of our free programmes CodeClub ( codeclub.org ) or Coder Dojo ( coderdojo.com ). As educators, we have to use games wisely. There is currently a bit of a backlash against games in educational resources, with some feeling that they alienate female students. This is partially due to the overwhelming amount of explode-y and shoot-y games that are prevalent in resources. Use your class time to create a wide range of games, including things like puzzles, quizzes and adventures. The more variety we can provide, the more students will benefit from the use of video games. If you are a gamer reading this, you may have some serious CS skills already and, if you are ever looking for a career change, you might just be able to turn that hobby into an enjoyable career.
IMAGES Video games are good teaching tools, because they are engaging and because they force you to model concepts in a computer system
PROTECTING IP IN GAMES Simon Ambroz, trainee patent attorney at IP firm Appleyard Lees, explains why safeguarding intellectual property is crucial for games developers
ame development requires a substantial investment of time and money, as it often takes
that manages interaction among characters from different instances of a virtual world, in a massive, multiplayer online game. You enjoy this invention when you enter a battleground or a dungeon whilst playing World of Warcraft. Epic Games, the developer of Fortnite, also has multiple patents. Some of the patents combine social and technical aspects of its games. For example, granted patent number US9072974 relates to methods of making gameplay changes based on a social networking poll. My personal favourite Fortnite patent is US9744461, which relates to methods that make resource gathering more fun and engaging. All Fortnite players are aware of the need to farm materials; if you don’t farm, you are a ‘noob’. Striking a tree to farm wood creates a weak point in the tree. This patent explains why and how the weak point appears. Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends, also owns several patents. In my opinion, one of the more interesting patents is US10016675, which relates to the technology that facilitates in-game reporting of other players for inappropriate behaviour. Trademarks are signs that indicate the origin of goods, such as games. Epic Games, Riot Games and Blizzard Entertainment all own a significant
number of trademarks around the worlds related to their games. For example, they have trademarks for the logos and names of their games, giving them the exclusive rights to use – and prohibit competitors from using – these titles. Riot Games also trademarks the names of the champions in its games, such as Teemo and Ahri, as well as the names of official game leagues. Epic Games has obtained trademarks for nearly all the names of locations in Fortnite – for instance, Retail Row. Many games companies also have ‘fan content policies’, which are usually part of the terms and conditions of the game. These policies relate to IP created by fans – based on the IP of the company – such as artwork, videos and other materials. This may be a more important consideration than you think. Take Warcraft III, developed by Blizzard, for example. The game includes an in-game, free world editor, which allows players to create customised maps, objectives, items, and so forth. This is how Dota, one of the most popular games ever created, was born. Unfortunately for Blizzard, it does not own any rights to Dota because its fan content policy at the time assigned the rights to the player who created Dota. This was a very costly mistake. Unsurprisingly, Blizzard recently updated its fan content policy, to ensure that, from now on, the company owns all custom games created by any players using its platforms! Most people probably don’t realise how much IP exists in the gaming world. However, as you can see, protecting IP is a critical consideration for game developers.
creators several years to design and launch a new game. Mobile games can be developed more quickly, but still require several months of investment. Given the investment, and given that popular games are at risk of being copied, it is critical that the intellectual property (IP) associated with a game – the inherent technology, the design, the branding – is properly protected, to ensure that games companies reap maximum commercial reward when the game is launched. If a computer program provides a technical solution to a technical problem, and has a technical effect inside or outside of the computer, the program may be patented. Blizzard Entertainment, the creator of the Warcraft universe, has several patents. For example, granted patent number US10086279 relates to a method of hosting a cross-realm zone
Riot Games trademarks the names of the champions in its games, as well as the names of official game leagues”
LEFT Simon Ambroz of Appleyard Lees is keen to highlight the possible risks of failing to protect valuable IP
ewind 30 years or so and the idea of studying games development seemed like
home to world-renowned studios such as Ninja Theory, Frontier and Jagex. Students on the course are introduced to, and given the opportunity to develop, a wide range of skills for them to understand and appreciate the multi-faceted industry that is games development. Rizing Games then enables students to showcase their efforts publicly on our own website (rizinggames.co.uk), social channels (@RizingGamesUK), at our locally hosted expo towards the end of the year and at industry events such as EGX Rezzed. We aim to teach more than introductory practical skills within the course, beginning with basics and simplifying the process in an ever- evolving digital world with paper- based challenges to introduce design tools, processes and the concept of iteration. We encourage students to be independent in their education and seek their own passion and drive within the wide context of games development, experimenting and learning from their own mistakes. Students can choose their specialism early on and develop either an artistic or technical approach to
ABOVE Students at CRC learn a range of disciplines on the course to get a full insight into all aspects of game development as a career
Chris Baker, course leader in Games
a distant fantasy. Games were entertaining millions around the world, but the majority of skills came from the neighbouring industries of film, animation, computing and design. Today however, there are more than 200 games-specific courses delivered by universities and further education colleges across the UK, covering a wide variety of skills such as art, animation, design, technology, programming, audio and storytelling. It’s one of the many reasons that the gaming industry is one of the fastest growing in the United Kingdom, with 2018 boasting a total market value of £5.7 billion according to UKIE’s Games Industry in Numbers. Cambridge Regional College is part of this, with its Level 3 Games Development course (for students aged 16+) and student company Rizing Games. It’s well situated here in Cambridge, which is ranked as the 11th best city for gross value-added in the country by UKIE’s 2020 report Think Global, Create Local, with more than 800 full-time employees, a wealth of groups and societies and
Development at Cambridge Regional College, on equipping young people to enter this fast- moving industry
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their creative work. We also work with local companies to inform students of effective focus group and quality assurance testing to apply to their own working practice: highlighting a key role within the industry that many at this age are unaware of. We teach project management techniques and collaborative workflows reflective of the industry and introduce, through ongoing discussion and careers advice and guidance, a wider range of skills within the industry. Students on their final project get the opportunity to work in a studio-like environment, working across disciplines and groups in order to support their ongoing practice and develop projects for their own professional portfolios. Students in the past have even distributed their games on Mobile, Xbox and Windows platforms. Level 3 education across the country is rapidly closing the gap between themselves and universities and it’s exciting to see the dynamism and creativity within students’ projects. While it’s important to teach practical skills of how to create games, with the sheer volume of games- related courses, online resources and
and diverse working culture within the industry itself. In a time when crunch (working excessive overtime) is widely publicised, and unhealthy expectations can unfortunately be commonplace, we aim to educate students on wellbeing and mental health awareness. The industry is steadily trying to solve many of these ongoing issues that unfortunately are embedded from years of blissful ignorance and toxic work environments. However, if we are to support this change and promote positive practice throughout, then it has to begin now and from a younger age. Young people more and more are being made aware of, and actively demonstrating against, social and political issues in the world today. Between climate crisis and Brexit alone, the young voice is being cast far and wide and younger generations are speaking out against social injustice. If they are educated on these matters
accessibility of games education now available to young people, we find it more valuable to embed a different approach in our curriculum. We want students to enter the industry aware of ongoing issues and trends, and better equipped to promote positive change as they graduate. Their work is heavily supported by theoretical discussions and assignments where they are asked to investigate the positive impact of games and how players are able to benefit from play, accessibility guidelines and how to enable a larger player base to experience their products, how to appropriately represent a more diverse culture within their work and, more importantly, how to foster a more equal We encourage students to be independent in their education and seek their own passion and drive within the wide context of games development”
within their own industries, then perhaps we can begin to change more positively. It is not enough to just be aware of these issues; we have to actively promote and reinforce change for the better.
Fire Tech, which runs camps and courses to help kids and teens learn about coding and digital creation, looks at how to get a foot in the door of the gaming industry
in a broader range of players. And game design elements and principles are increasingly seen outside the games industry such as in cultural and commercial contexts where mobile phones are becoming the consoles of the future. Gaming is constantly innovating, providing young people with incredible opportunities. So, what steps do young people need to take to become a game designer and/or developer? “Make use of the free, professional software available online,” says Jason Veal, managing director and co-founder of games studio Sugar Creative. “You don’t have to know them all but you do need to know how to navigate a range of software. Hone your analytical and programming skills. And be interested – and that’s not just interested in playing games! Your best ideas will come to you whilst you’re doing something completely unrelated.” For teens, Fire Tech offers a course in 3D Game Development With Unity, a powerful game engine behind many popular games such as Crossy Road, Monument Valley
t’s the unique mix of technical and creative which makes game design and development such a
Gaming is constantly innovating, providing young people with incredible opportunities”
Interfaces). If you want to be part of the gaming industry you need to stay ahead of the game! For game designers, a wide-ranging, up-to-date knowledge of gaming trends aids innovation. The latest emerging technology is mixed reality: think Pokémon GO. At the heart of computer game design is playability. Seems obvious, doesn't it? Whilst not every player wants to be an e-athlete (an electronic athlete), the central focus of a game is to keep players playing and sharing their experience with others. Interaction is key; from storyboarding the user experience (UX) to enhancing player motivation (kudos and collectables), games now rival others in the marketplace with their unique look and feel (as well as sound). Gaming in the future is set to become less bedroom-bound, drawing
and Hearthstone. Incorporating C#, participants are encouraged to first attend one of Fire Tech’s programming-based courses, Coding Games with Java or Teen Coding with Python.
ABOVE Fire Tech offers
courses for teenagers in
programming and game development
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