Everybody knows that Scotland is a powerhouse in videogames, which punches well above its weight. But few people can name the studios working in, or games currently coming from Scotland.
Over the next six months, the Scottish Games Network will change this by carrying out the first ever comprehensive mapping exercise of Scotland’s rapidly evolving videogames ecosystem.
Founder and director, Brian Baglow, has been awarded a Connected Innovators grant, to enable him to carry out the research, which will capture the whole games sector, in its broadest definition.
Scotland has a global reputation as a pioneer in the games sector, with games such as Lemmings and Grand Theft Auto achieving worldwide fame, while the University of Abertay, creator of the world’s first videogames degree, is still regularly rated as the best place to study games in Europe.
Today, companies such as Rockstar North (which still creates the GTA franchise) and 4J Studios (developer of the hugely successful console versions of Minecraft) are frequently cited as industry leaders, but the rest of the gaming ecosystem remains little understood and isolated from the wider digital tech sector and the rest of the creative industries.
The Connected Innovators research will map every participant involved in designing, developing, publishing, distributing, teaching, broadcasting, or supporting the games and interactive industries, as well as the games being released.
“Scotland’s videogames sector evolves incredibly quickly,” says Baglow. “More people than ever are now playing games. Alongside the major consoles, more and more gaming is mobile, casual, social and online. Esports has finally hit Scotland, with a growing number of players, teams and organisations now competing, while ‘applied games’ are bringing tools, technologies and techniques from gaming to areas such as education, healthcare, fintech and tourism.
“Despite this we’ve no hard data on the size or the composition of the contemporary games sector. Outside the major studios, there’s not a lot of visibility on the number of companies, the work they’re doing, or the games they’re releasing. We don’t know how many freelancers work in the sector, or how the industry interacts with other areas of Scotland’s tech sectors or creative industries.
“This leaves us making guesses about how the sector is performing, and acting on incomplete, or non-existent information.
“This research will offer a snapshot of the games sector across the whole country, from academia to industry. It will provide a baseline, so we can start making more informed decisions about the future of the industry in Scotland and how best to support the whole ecosystem.”
Connected Innovators is delivered by Creative Edinburgh as part of Creative Informatics, a £7.6 million R&D programme that is supporting creative individuals and organisations in Edinburgh and South East Scotland to explore how data can be used to drive ground-breaking new products, businesses and experiences.
Briana Pegado, Executive Director of Creative Edinburgh said: “Connected Innovators is a wonderful opportunity for us to elevate and support people working in the creative industries that are having a truly positive impact on their communities. This funding gives them time out of their workplace or daily practice to truly develop their ideas with expertise that allows them to explore the possibilities of innovation.
“These projects will contribute to the future of our society – by helping us better understand our role in it and highlighting the importance of the creative industries in the development of humanity, a climate positive future, a more inclusive future, and a more data literate future.
“It is through knowledge sharing and coming together through our community at this time of need that opens up a plethora of routes of exploration for a more positive future. These projects exemplify how creatives are always thinking about members of our community who are marginalised or struggle with barriers to accessing data and the digital world. We can not only build back better, but we can truly lead the way together.”
The Scottish Games Network is now looking for participants across the videogames sector to get in touch, so they can be included in the research, including:
- Game developers (full-time, part-time or hobbyist)
- Technology companies working in, or supporting the games sector
- Software, design & digital companies which have created games, or interactive entertainment products
- Esports teams and players
- Twitch and YouTube streamers focusing on games
- Freelancers who work in or support companies involved in the games sector
- University and colleges offering games-related courses
Anyone interested in being included in the research should contact Baglow directly: firstname.lastname@example.org. The results of the research will be released in Q1 2021 and will be open-sourced in order to make it available to all interested parties.