– Speakers –
We’re delighted to welcome over 45 fantastic speakers, including:
Sarah Hinchcliffe-Smith, Ubisoft
Sarah is HR Director at Ubisoft CRC overseeing all people associated activities for Ubisoft’s multi lingual EMEA Consumer Relationship Centre (www.ubisoft.com) . Sarah has built her HR career during her time with British Airways, Accenture and Sitel and is passionate about creating workplace environments where people and ideas can thrive.
Anna Limpens, University of Portsmouth
Anna has been teaching in Higher Education for 18 years. She is the Course Leader for Computer Games Enterprise and the Foundation in Creative Computing at the University of Portsmouth. Before coming to Portsmouth she taught at the University of Edinburgh and also ran a successful e-learning consultancy which included producing digital and game-based learning solutions for clients across the education and commercial sectors.
Akshay Jain, Wordplay Games
Akshay has been developing things for close to 10 years now. He started with games during my under-grad, switched to app development for his professional career and then did a Masters in Games Design to find his way back into the games industry. At the moment, he is one of the co-founders of a co-operative indie studio, Wordplay Games, which has been working on a narrative puzzler called Days Lost where you solve puzzles to discover the lost memories of a young woman. He has also been a Game Developer at Loveshark for the last 9 months making camera games for gen-z girls.
Charlotte Pook, Electric Square
Charlotte is the Talent Acquisition Specialist for Electric Square. During her career, she has gained 4 ½ years of recruitment experience in various industries. She enjoys working with people from all walks of life and helping them step into the careers that they strive for.
Abbey Plumb, Unity
Abbey Plumb is a Senior Technical Program Manager at Unity Technologies, a Women in Games Ambassador, Special Effect Charity Ambassador and BAME in Games mentor. She has worked across table top, mobile and console games. Specialising in production and project management, she also has experience working in community, events, live operations and marketing. Abbey is listed in MCV’s 30 under 30 2020 and has worked on top 100 App Store and Amazon Top 10 Best Selling Projects
Lorna Birrell, Sony PlayStation
Lorna is Content Operator for PlayStation Store and a 2020 Limit Break Mentee. She is also a founder and committee member of Wellbeing@PlayStation, an employee group supporting Mental Health and Wellbeing initiatives.
Michael Othen, Included Games/Out Making Games
Michael is co-founder and creative director of mobile game startup Included Games. He’s also co-founder of Out Making Games, a network for LGBTQ+ games industry professionals.
Emma Rodger, Sumo Digital
A Fashion Business graduate of The University of Manchester, Emma began her programming journey through the non-traditional route of marketing and branding, eventually training in Robotic Process Automation and Python. Through this, she discovered a natural aptitude for code. Emma enjoys the creativity programming provides, and views taking part in Sumo Academy as the first step of her career in games.
Reese Wright, Robot Teddy
Reese is currently a Senior Producer at Robot Teddy, a games consultancy who support indie games studios. With a career spanning 15 years, Reese has given a hand to well over 200 game releases, everything from massive AAA titles like Alien Isolation to smaller Indie developed titles like Forgotton Anne. Reese is also a Limit Break Mentor, a STEM and Video Games Ambassador, and the founder of Save Point – a monthly social meet-up for people of gender minorities working in the video games industry.
Emma Smith, Creative Assembly
Emma Smith leads Creative Assembly’s award winning Legacy Project and sits on the Next Gen Skills Employer Steering Group. From playground to industry, the Legacy Project is the studio’s commitment to educating, inspiring and supporting the games development talent of tomorrow and promoting games as a power for good.
Sharon Tolaini-Sage, Norwich University of the Arts
Sharon is an Associate Professor at Norwich University of the Arts, where she teaches game design undergraduates and is a fierce advocate of equality of opportunity for young women entering all areas of the games industries. In 2018 she set up an ongoing digital work experience programme at NUA, working with game studios to provide short periods of authentic industry experience for students in their graduating year. In 2019 she was a highly commended finalist in the Times Higher Education Awards’ Most Innovative Teacher of the Year.
Emily Inkpen, Marmalade Game Studio
Emily is a copywriter and content creator, who made an unlikely jump from healthcare communications to the gaming industry in April 2020. Among the drama of the pandemic she became part of the team at Marmalade Game Studio, landed a Literary Agent, started submitting her debut novel to publishers, and wrote her first fully produced audio-drama. In her spare time, Emily succeeds in playing games and often fails at playing her cello.
Matthew Lowe, D3T
Matthew works at D3T as an Associate Producer.
Matt Wilson, Priestley College
14 years teaching experience across Primary, Secondary and FE Education. Created a Games Design Course from the ground up and delivered it successfully for the past 8 years which as lead to the development and application of a Level 3 Game Design Intern program into the Game Industry. Successfully creating opportunities for students to get into the industry. Games Education Consultant, Game Dev student and avid gamer.
Melissa Chaplin, Game If You Are
Melissa Chaplin is originally from Newcastle, and now lives in central London. She’s Head of Client Strategy at Indie Games PR and Marketing firm Game If You Are. Before landing her first job in games, Melissa did a PhD, worked in fashion, and was even an English teacher. Now that she’s in the industry, she’s keen to make up for lost time and getting stuck into mentorship schemes is a massive support. She’s a mentor herself with Into Games, and a mentee with Limit Break.
Ian Goodall, Aardvark Swift
Ian Goodall is the managing director of Aardvark Swift and the Founder of the Grads in Games initiative.
Kish Harani, BAME in Games
Kish Hirani brings with him 25 years experience in the games industry. He started as a software engineer, swiftly attaining technical director or equivalent roles at development studios and publishing houses like Acclaim, THQ, BBC Multimedia to name a few… The second half of his career he moved to platform holders starting with Microsoft then settling at Sony PlayStation for 8 years as their Head of Developer Services, developing and managing resources for all developer facing technical activities. Currently, he is the CTO of a startup as well as a consultancy and sits on multiple advisory boards. He has taken up the voluntary position of the first Chair of the advocacy group BAME in Games (Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic), promoting diversity in the industry.
He was listed as one of ‘The Top 100 most influential BAME leaders in UK Tech’ 2019 in the Financial Times; awarded the ‘Diversity Star Award’ at the Develop:Star Awards 2019 and listed as ‘The Top 100 Asian Stars in UK Tech’ by Diversity UK in 2018.
Liz Prince, Amiqus
Liz Prince is the Business Manager at award-winning recruitment specialist Amiqus. She is also founder of G Into Gaming, an initiative to build more diverse and inclusive workplaces in games.
Samantha Holt, St Helens College
Samantha is currently a second year at St Helens College Game Design, VFX & Animation course, due to graduate June 2021, and a prospective Student for Abertay University in September 2021. She is aspiring towards either a path as a technical artist or game artist (2D or 3D) as her skillset leans more towards digital art and programming in unreal engine.
Owen Kitchen, St Helens College
Owen started his path into the games industry by building an old CAD modelling PC in the back of an old rural Irish school and began learning Blender and Unreal Engine. He is currently studying in his second year of Games, Animation and VFX in St. Helens College and graduating in June 2021 to start the Game Design course in Abertay in September 2021. He is ooking into a path as either a game programmer or a technical artist.
Khally Saarman-Jones, Payload Studios
Khally heads up HR and Facilities at Payload Studios, makers of the award winning game TerraTech and creators of the Tentacle Zone. Since joining the studio, Khally has launched Payload’s inclusion and diversity initiative. She also organises and hosts Payoad’s regular Game On inclusion events. Khally has spoken at a number of games industry events (including Develop: Brighton and Pocket Gamer Connects) and in 2020 was shortlisted for a Game Dev Hero award in the Progression Advocate category. She is also a Video Games Ambassador and Limit Break mentor.
Kiera Rodway, PQube
Kiera is 21 years-old, from Southend-on-Sea in Essex and is a Community Manager at PQube. She is currently working on titles such as Gal*Gun, Nexomon, Cat Quest, BlazBlue and Steins;Gate and is the liaison between the studio, its loyal players, and the gaming community at large. Kiera says she has loved gaming ever since she was a child and it was her dream to work in the games industry, especially within the social media side.
Hristina Zaykova, Bournemouth University
Hristina is from Bulgaria and currently in her final year of studies, on the Games Design course at Bournemouth University. Last year she had the opportunity to take an eight-month internship at Imperia Online JSC as a game designer. After her internship ended, she was offered a job at the same company. Currently she is working on the mobile title Siege: World War II as a game designer.
Madison Riley, Lucid Games
Maddi is an environment artist at Lucid Games who graduated last year from Falmouth University. She loves a variety of styles and enjoys creating cozy scenes in her own time!
Marcia Deakin, Next Gen Skills Academy
Marcia is Games Partnership Director at NextGen Skills Academy, an organisation dedicated to working with employers and education to address skills shortages in Games, Animation and VFX. She has over 20 years’ experience in the UK Games Industry. Since 2015 she has been involved in the development and delivery of apprenticeships at level 4 for VFX and Games and with Industry designed a vocational level 3 Tech qualification in Games, Animation and VFX. This qualification is delivered at 13 FE colleges throughout England with Tutor CPD, industry masterclasses and quality engagement with students.
Gemma Johnson-Brown, Dovetail Games & Women in Games
Gemma is a mum to two and step mum to three plus 2 dogs! With a background in Business and HR, she is proud to be the first female Board Director at Dovetail Games, and is driven to set good examples for her children. Gemma also sits on the Board for Women in Games and is assisting and advising the future strategy to help more women into the games industry. She left education at 16 and went to work in a different range of industries, learning a lot and fast! In 2018 she started to focus on other areas of the business outside of HR, and currently has responsibility for all non development and marketing related departments.
Matt Carroll, Sports Interactive
Matt is the COO of Sports Interactive, creators of the Championship Manager and Football Manager series, and a ‘pillar’ studio of SEGA. Matt started in the games industry in 1996 at MicroProse and has worked at Hasbro Interactive and Disney Interactive. He was previously a board member and treasurer of industry trade body UKIE.
Dr Lynn Love, Abertay University
Dr Lynn Love is a lecturer in Computer Arts based at the School of Design and Informatics at Abertay University, in Dundee, UK, the top university for video games education in Europe. She delivers blended learning classes in technical art, game design and experimental play design. Lynn is a practicing designer working in the field of play. She recently collaborated on the design of a socially distanced chalk playground installation at the V&A Dundee and a social play video game which is played in a tent.
Carrie Warwick, University of Bolton
Charlie Hargood, Bournemouth University
Dr Charlie Hargood is a Principal Academic in Games Technology in the department of Creative Technology at Bournemouth University. He was instrumental in the design and writing of the games programmes at Bournemouth, and tutors undergraduates across all games courses, and across all years of study. He is also an internationally recognized research leader in Interactive Storytelling and Hypertext with publications in leading journals and conferences, and he has twice won the ACM SIGWeb Douglas Englebert prize for his research on models of digital narrative. He was general chair for the International Conference of Interactive Storytelling in 2020, and is the organizer of the regular NHT and AIS international workshop series.
Guy Davidson, Creative Assembly
Guy Davidson started writing games in 1980 on an Acorn Atom at his school in Cornwall. After a brief dalliance with CD-ROMs and interactive media in the early 90s, he joined Codemasters in 1997 and Creative Assembly in 1999 where he is now the Principal Coding Manager, dedicated to helping good programmers become great programmers.
Dr Jake Habgood, Sumo Digital & TIGA
Jake’s career straddles the games industry and education, having cut his development teeth as a PlayStation Programmer for Gremlin Interactive in the ’90s. He spent ten years in academia and was Reader in Game Development at Sheffield Hallam University, where he was the founder and director of The Steel Minions Game Studio. He has a PhD in the psychology of learning, having published a range of academic papers in the field of serious games, and has written two hobbyist books on game programming. Jake is now back in the games industry, applying his passion for the industry’s talent pipeline as Director of Education Partnerships for the Sumo Digital Group.
Georgia Hylton, Into Games Mentee
Although Georgia had graduated from University with a degree in Social Sciences, it didn’t take long for her to realise that her heart was actually set on working in games. However, she was worried that getting into the industry without prior experience wouldn’t be possible. Fortunately, she was proven wrong! She found an abundance of helpful resources, met amazing people, and discovered invaluable mentorship opportunities online. Being part of the IntoGames mentorship programme helped her to gain confidence while building relevant skills, establishing connections as well as providing the encouragement that she really needed whilst job-seeking. She is now a Design Intern with The Chinese Room, based in Brighton, UK.
David Price, nDreams
David has always liked games. When growing up, he wanted to be a Games Designer but never knew how to do it. When he went into University the first time, he studied Town and Country Planning. It was shortly after a failed attempt at being a Town Planner, he ended up in a call centre for quite a while. So, he decided to finally pursue his passion – David finished a HND and Masters in Games Design and got them both at Distinction level. Plus, he was awarded Atomicom Games Design Student of the Year 2017 and a GDWC award and flown out to Finland for quite an experience. After three years in the industry, David now works as a level designer at nDreams working on Fracked.
Nia Wearn, Staffordshire University
As the Course Director for Esports, Games Studies and Communities, Nia oversees the Esports, Games PR and Community Management and Games Studies portfolio of courses at Staffordshire University. She oversees the staff and the development of those courses. The main focus of Nia’s research is games education and the use of social media and its role in communication of student groups. She also teaches about Gameplay design, Narrative in Games, Production, Community Management, Event planning and Marketing.
Andy Driver, Aardvark Swift
Andy is the Operations Manager of Grads in Games, a non-profit organisation which became independent in 2021 and has one simple aim – to help students become more employable for the video games industry.
Alistair Irons, University of Sunderland
Professor Alastair Irons is Academic Dean for the Faculty of Technology at the University of Sunderland and a Professor of Computer Science. His subject interests focus on digital education, digital community management, digital forensics and cybersecurity. Prior to joining the University in September 2008 he worked at ONE North East, Northumbria University and ICI having moved to the north east of England from Scotland after graduating in 1984 from Edinburgh University. Alastair became a National Teaching Fellow in 2010. Alastair was a visiting scholar at the University of Cape Town in South Africa from 2013 – 2016 and is currently a research associate at the University of Johannesburg. Alastair is currently Vice President (academic) of the BCS and is chair of the BCS Academy board, he also sits on BCS Council and BCS Trustees and is a member of the BCS Academic Accreditation Committee. He serves on the management board of DYNAMO, the management board of Sphere North East, the Advisory Board of the North East Digital Catapult and on the management board of the North East Fraud Forum.
Aurore Dimopolous, Unity
Aurore is the Director of Real-Time Learning at Unity, leading multiple teams responsible for Unity’s learning platform (learn.unity.com) that enables millions across the world to learn skills for careers in real-time development. Aurore began her career at Unity 8 years ago as Community Manager, an advocate for users and the voice of Unity on forums and social media. She swiftly moved into a Production and leadership role for demos and learning projects, utilizing her expertise from her degree in Game Development.
Simon Nelson, Nord Anglia Education
Simon joined Nord Anglia Education as its Group Digital Director in January 2021. In this new role, Simon will be responsible for expanding Nord Anglia’s range of leading online teaching and learning platforms used by its 70,000 students and 10,000 teachers across its 73 schools in 30 countries. The EdTech division will pioneer new approaches that support and empower teachers and enhance students’ learning outcomes. Prior to joining Nord Anglia, Simon was CEO of FutureLearn, one of Europe’s fastest growing EdTech start-ups and a world-leading online education learning platform. Since he launched the company in 2012, FutureLearn attracted over 15 million students worldwide to register for online courses developed in partnership with the world’s top universities. Earlier in his career, Simon led the BBC’s digital TV and radio operations for over a decade, playing a leading role in the development of its on-demand services, including the BBC iPlayer, and pioneering interactive services.
Errol Ismail, Fabrik Games
Errol Ismail has worked in the games industry for over 15 years. Errol spent the majority of his career at Electronic Arts working on the Battlefield, Star Wars, Madden and Sim City franchises. He’s currently Studio Head for Fabrik Games in Manchester.
Mark Flanagan, Epic Games
Mark started his professional life as an architect in Ireland, in the last Millenium. His interest in art and technology led him on a winding career path. Returning to study animation, he moved to the UK to work with Codemasters. A move to Australia led from a role as a Technical Art Manager with Transmission Games, then becoming a lecturer in Melbourne’s leading universities including RMIT, Kangan, NMT, and Victoria University.
A meeting at GDC inspired him to become an industry trainer.
In recent years he has contributed materials to Pixar’s RenderMan group and Pluralsight.
He moved to Vancouver as a trainer with DNeg, on projects such as Bladerunner 2049.
Then back to the UK for a similar role in ILM, on projects including Star Wars, Mandalorian and Marvel Franchises.
His Education Partner Manager role at Epic allows him to bring together his previous experience in empowering educators to prepare their students for the future of interactive media.
Kieran Holland, Sumo Digital
Kieran supports Sumo Digital’s 13 studios globally. He has developed the recruitment function that supports Sumo’s growth, building the team structure and implementing the best tools to enable the company to fill its incredible appetite for talent.
Karen Hedger, AIM Group
Karen is a creative industries education specialist with extensive experience of curriculum and qualification design and development, teaching, learning, and assessment, Karen has a specialist interest in the games industry.
Peter Howell, University of Portsmouth
Peter is a Senior Lecturer in Computer Games Design in the School of Creative Technologies at the University of Portsmouth and the Deputy Course Leader for their BSc(Hons) Computer Games Technology programme. He also has teaching and curriculum development experience in game design and game art at FE level. At Portsmouth, he leads the Advanced Games Research Group (AGRG) in developing research-driven commercial and non-commercial games in areas including disruptive game design, narrative design, player psychology, and playful prototyping. Prior to teaching, he worked as a game designer for the Brighton-based studio, The Chinese Room.
Matthew Wilson, Priestley College
Matthew has 14 years’ teaching experience across Primary, Secondary and FE Education. He created a Games Design Course from the ground up and has delivered it successfully for the past eight years which has lead to the development and application of a Level 3 Game Design Intern program into the Game Industry. Successfully creating opportunities for students to get into the industry. Games Education Consultant, Game Dev student and avid gamer.
Nick Duncombe, Playground Games
Nick Duncombe leads the Recruitment function at Playground Games, an XBOX Game Studio and one of the UK’s most pre-eminent AAA developers. Nick joined Playground in 2015 during the development of Forza Horizon 3 and has helped the studio grow to over 300 employees. Since joining Playground Games Nick has been responsible for hiring the best video game developers from around the world and most recently the recruitment drive for Playground Games’ second AAA studio which is developing Fable, a new beginning for the legendary franchise.
Jonny Lee, Wushu Studios
Jonny is a Technical Designer at Wushu Studios. He started out at Falmouth University doing BA Game Development and then went through the UK Games Fund Tranzfuser program before landing his first job at Wushu.
Claire Blackshaw, Freelance
Claire is a queer Creative Programmer living in London, with more than a decade in games working for Sony and a range of studios. Claire has worked in programming, design and consultancy, and has a passion for research and artistic applications of technology. Now pursuing VR full time. When not programming, playing games, roleplaying, learning, or reading, you can typically find Claire skating or streaming on Twitch.
Alan O’Dea, Staffordshire University
Alan is the Lecturer of Games Business and Production at Staffordshire University. Alan has worked in games for over 15 years in management, business development, publishing and strategy roles.