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The growth of the local games sector; from newborns to teenagers..

We’ve all heard about the successes of the games sector, especially with the ‘Black Pebble’ companies that have formed as a result of the Disney’s Black Rock office closure.  I thought it time to recap and take another look at how they’re doing, especially drilling down on some stats I’ve been examining, and to hear how the studios are managing their workforce to fit in with their growth….

Firstly I can see that over the past 12 months a healthy 22 companies have been using our Jobs Board to post a total of 46 games vacancies (of which over half are programming roles). The other jobs posted require design and animation skills, 2D/3D modelling and a fair few ask for a big UI focus.  Other than actual skills, most games companies require new recruits to have a laid back, flexible and creative attitude as well as an obvious passion for gaming.  In return the studios promote themselves to have company cultures that allow creativity to thrive keeping their staff happy and comfortable at the same time.

Second Impact Games have been up and running for 18 months now and increase/decrease their staff intake according to their need.  Rowen Holt says:

We have seen a number of studios start up alongside of us, some have had the opportunity to grow a lot larger and have taken it! I think, regarding growth, we face some really interesting challenges as a micro-studio….a micro-studio is the only 'safe' way to do what we do. If we don't have many dependants we keep the wage bill down and can retain a degree of creative control, as opposed to being forced to take on purely contract work. We grow and shrink as needs be - we hire 3D artists when we have projects which require 3D art, we hire QA guys when a project requires it”.

Rowen also shares that “there are a few larger 'small' studios starting to arise in Brighton - Futurlab go from strength to strength, Gobo are making Disney infinity, Boss Alien have made Natural Motion very wealthy - these are the gravitational centres of the Brighton development scene and they're the reason graduates are willing to move to Brighton; they can offer permanent employment and have the money to spend on workspace luxury”.

In comparison Al Tredinnick from Digicave comments that they’ve “ tripled in size to 12 people in the last year. As to recruitment success we have just had a wonderful moment where a combination of advertising through Wired Sussex etc, our amazing designer Dom Sebastion has hired junior designer James Brown to join the team. This is amazing for us as Dom is a really integral part of the team and was a great find himself. The fact that he is managing to grow his team off his own back to such success is every employers dream.”

At Wired Sussex we’re aware that securing the best and right talent is imperative for games companies, and I’m working hard to offer support to the sector and am forming new strategies for talent attraction to the area.  In particular I’m developing ways to widen the reach of any graduate level roles posted on our Jobs Board to get them seen by the all important universities outside of our area (eg Glasgow, Bournemouth etc).

With new ways of marketing games now available like ApplyNation, we hope to see yet more growth in the sector, especially when the government finally approves the plans to allow tax relief for games companies.  As ever we’ll be on hand offering our support and I welcome any further suggestions to how we can better this!

Looking forward to hearing more of your success stories, but in the meantime, check out the games jobs we’re currently advertising :-)

Caroline Morris, Wired Sussex

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