Indy game developers in Scots BAFTA boost

Three independent games developers have been shortlisted to win a BAFTA Scotland award. Picture: PA
Three independent games developers have been shortlisted to win a BAFTA Scotland award. Picture: PA
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THREE “exceptional” game developers will share the spotlight with Scotland’s film and television talent at this year’s BAFTA Scotland awards.

In a sign of the game sector’s vitality in Scotland, the trio of titles all hail from independent developers and were produced for mobile platforms.

Industry leaders in Scotland said the diversity of the nominated titles demonstrated how far games have evolved and hailed the nation as a “pioneer” in the indie field.

The line-up consists of Coolson’s Artisinal Chocolate Alphabet, a wordplay game by Edinburgh’s Things Made Out Of Other Things which marries a thoughtful concept to a beautiful illustration style; Edinburgh-based Pixels on Toast’s thrilling minimalist racer, Impossible Road, and Mr Shingu’s Paper Zoo, a lauded modern take on the craft of origami by Stormcloud Games in Dundee.

Brian Baglow, founder and director of the Scottish Games Network, the nation’s trade body for games development, told Scotsman Games the titled demonstrating “exceptional” quality and imagination.

He said: “The global video games industry has been changed in a very fundamental way by the rise of independent ‘indie’ studios. Once again Scotland has been a pioneer in this area, with a huge number of new indie studios emerging, pushing the country’s original six studios up to around 100.

“The BAFTA Games category received a record breaking number of entries this year, the diversity and quality of which was astonishing. All of the entrants were original,creative and fun but the three nominated games are truly exceptional, showing just how far games have evolved beyond what people normally think of as ‘games’.”

He added: “It reflects a diverse, dynamic and incredibly exciting industry, which the whole country should be proud of.”

Luke Dicken, a director of the global International Game Developers Association, said the nominations pointed to a shift within the industry away from major studios towards independents.

He said: “BAFTA Scotland selecting three indie games for the prestigious games category of their awards is a testament to the health of the sector, and that all three are mobile games is a clear sign of the times. Increasingly, we’re seeing that the new models for development are coming to the forefront - small teams, working quickly and releasing products independent of publisher intervention and Scotland is in many ways an indicator of the way the industry at large is heading.

“Large teams have folded and from their ashes a number of smaller groups have been formed, individuals have burnt out on the corporate culture of the AAA side of the industry and set up their own thing, often leaning in a much more creative and artistic direction, and our excellent education institutions like University of Abertay, Dundee and Glasgow Caledonian University produce yearly crops of highly trained graduates who in many cases are forming their own small teams straight after their studies.

Dicken, who is also director of the association’s chapter in Scotland, added: “We are in a golden age for the entrepreneurial game developer, where as an industry we are able to strike out by ourselves and find success and acclaim. Ten years ago this would have been unthinkable, but the industry as a whole is changing and BAFTA Scotland’s nominees clearly reflect this.”