CAMBRIDGE CATALYST Issue 06 Web

GAMING SPECIAL

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is rarely more than a footnote when it comes to discussing the strengths of the UK economy, with the sector hindered by outdated, negative perceptions.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

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ISSUE 06

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