Brighton Games Festival could put industry on the map

Brighton Games Festival could put industry on the map

Leaders of major games companies in Sussex discussed raising the profile of the area’s games cluster by organising a Brighton Games Festival when they met virtually at a Wired Sussex Round Table.

They gathered to discuss the findings of the Sussex games cluster report, a study which looked at ways the sector could continue to grow and tackle challenges.

Other ideas included the area’s games studios working together to book space at the city’s annual Develop Conference and put the cluster on the map nationally.

The report was created by Wired Sussex, which supports the digital, media and technology sector, and property developer First Base, which is behind the construction of the city’s newest neighbourhood, Edward Street Quarter.

David Amor, Non-Executive Director, Wired Sussex and former Chief Business Development Officer at games studio MAG Interactive said: “With a total of 76 games companies in Sussex, this puts the cluster in a great position to attract talent, giving employees plenty of career prospects, but without the need to uproot to a new city for work when they want to progress. This is a major strength.

“We need to do more to put our cluster on the map and boost awareness of the many opportunities in the city, regionally, nationally and internationally, so that our cluster has the same recognition as other hubs around the UK. Our studios are highly collaborative and together we have already brainstormed ideas about how we can continue to help the sector to thrive.”

Leaders of the games studios suggested holding a Brighton Games Festival to get the cluster on the radar of central Government and attract support. They also discussed the profiles of other clusters around the UK and how they were building their brand recognition.

There was debate about how to brand the cluster, with the meeting favouring Brighton Area Games Cluster because the city is so well known.

Olaide Oboh, Director of Partnerships at First Base: “It’s exciting to see plans discussed about how we can build awareness of the Brighton Area Games Cluster and look at how we can help to bring the studios together to achieve this.

“There will be space at Edward Street Quarter when completed where games companies will be able to get together and collaborate. We look forward to welcoming them to Brighton’s newest neighbourhood and hope it sparks more ideas about how we can put the Brighton Area Games Cluster on the map.”

The virtual meeting recognised there was a gap in terms of supply and demand for talent, as well as difficulty in attracting diverse candidates.

Attendees also suggested the continued use of channel-based messaging platform Slack and outreach to universities to keep the cluster front of mind. The possibility of running an internship competition with the universities in Brighton was also raised.

For entry level positions, leaders looked at the cost of relocation for graduates and the cost of living in Sussex, with the prospect of relocation packages suggested as a way to attract graduate talent to the city. The need to help young people understand the breadth of jobs available in the industry was also a factor.

Brexit has been causing particular challenges for recruiting outside of the UK, with the costs associated with visas proving particularly hard to take on for smaller studios.

The Sussex Games Cluster Report identified that Sussex generates more than £200m in economic value for the region annually and is set to grow to a quarter of a billion in 2021.

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