Manchester has a strong and expanding creative scene that include a burgeoning game development industry. Ashley Brown (below), an honorary research fellow at the University of Manchester, says that the “city has a vibrant, colourful, active and lively community of artists of all media, including gamers and developers.”
“Although there are plenty of online resources to connect to gaming communities,” she says. “Manchester has a great physical gaming presence through events at The Landing in MediaCityUK, SuperByte, Play Expo, Fab Café and even some of the shops, stalls and retro arcade machines in Afflecks. Manchester is a city of gamers.”
Manchester plays host to an array of diverse social opportunities for gamers, that those involved say foster a sense of community. These range from SuperByte, a weekend music festival bridging the gap between gamers, devs, musicians, artists and consumers, to the recently created Facebook group ‘Gay Gamers Manchester’, which provides on and offline social networking for LGBT gamers.
“We don’t need to be in London”
Speaking on this transformation, Lorraine Starr, commercial director at MediaCityUK-based game developers, Yippee Entertainment (above), said: “The Yippee team have always been part of the Manchester and North West gaming industry, most of us for over 20 years, and we are very proud of our Northern roots.
“In this digital age we have never felt the need to be in London. With smaller developers and start-ups having the ability to produce and publish their own games, the advent of games courses, particularly at University of Salford, and the BBC relocating to MediaCityUK – Manchester will continue to grow and soon become a powerhouse for content creation.”
Yippee Games has seen success with mobile platform game Chimpact (above) and is currently developing Chimpact 2. In addition, the company was named winner of ‘Best Start-up’ at the Digital Big Chip Awards 2013.
Manchester needs investment
Despite Manchester being a catalyst in the Northern gaming revival, those within it still say there is more to be done to nurture this community.
“The biggest issue facing our industry is the monetisation of games and finding companies who are willing to fund the creation of games and applications,” says Ann Darby (below), director of strategic partnerships at The Landing. “In order for the existing gaming community to sustain and grow, we need to raise the profile of the talent that’s based here, host even more industry events and help turn developers with great ideas into investable businesses and marketable products, respectively.”
Ashley believes that there needs to be greater investment in – and recognition of – games as an art form.
“This is not to say that every game should be taken seriously, or that we should prioritise serious games, but rather that every game has potential to tell us something about ourselves and our culture,” she says. “Although Manchester offers much in the way of providing spaces to engage with games, it still could be better.”