Why Wales is a Growing Epicentre for the Games Industry

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The journey from a student with a passion for gaming to the co-founder of a leading games studio might seem daunting, but it’s one I embarked upon with a steadfast vision and a determination to stay in Wales.

The recent success of Sker Ritual, our latest release at Wales Interactive, topping sales charts globally, is not just a personal triumph but a testament to Wales’ burgeoning role in the international games industry.

My time at the University of South Wales (USW) was more than educational. It was the crucible in which my entrepreneurial spirit was forged. Studying Computer Games Programming followed by a Masters in Animation provided me not only with technical skills but also with invaluable lessons in business acumen and networking, taught by mentors like Gerald Emanuel. It was here that the seed was planted to not only join the games industry but to innovate within it.

Choosing to stay in Cardiff, despite the lure of larger tech hubs such as Guildford, was a decision driven by both heart and strategy. The gaming landscape in Wales was sparse, and this was a challenge I took head-on rather than shying away from. I embarked on a business venture with a fellow graduate and Calon, an animation company based in Cardiff Bay. Our focus was on merging Augmented Reality with clothing and animation – a novel concept in its early stages. It wasn’t as successful as we’d hoped, but it was a critical learning curve that showed me the ropes of entrepreneurship and company creation.

The turning point came when I took a position to map out the gaming landscape in Wales, which led to the organisation of the first Welsh Games Development showcase at the Wales Millennium Centre in 2011. It was a pivotal event, celebrating local talent and setting the stage for what was to come. 

Meeting David Banner during this project was serendipitous. Together, we saw beyond mapping the industry—we envisioned creating a cornerstone for game development in Wales. And out of that Wales Interactive was born in 2012, laying down roots right here in Cardiff.

Our studio has grown significantly, employing many USW graduates and continuously engaging with the local talent pool. This not only helps in nurturing local expertise but also in creating a robust, self-sustaining industry presence right here in Wales.

As a studio Wales Interactive has evolved from merely developing games to becoming a prominent publisher, particularly in the niche of Interactive Movies, where we stand as the second largest globally, following only Netflix.

Our projects, like Sker Ritual, reflect our commitment to quality and innovation. This game, a spin-off from the award-winning Maid of Sker, provides a thrilling experience with its blend of horror elements and steampunk aesthetics, proving to be a hit globally.

Our ambition stretches beyond commercial success; we aim to build a hub for the gaming industry in Wales. It’s about giving the sector a unified voice, showcasing its potential, and ensuring it is regarded on the global stage. Our travels from San Francisco to Japan are not just to expand our footprint but to ensure that Wales is recognised as a significant player in the global games community.

The rise of Wales Interactive from a local startup to a key industry player is a story of perseverance, innovation, and unwavering belief in local potential. It shows how the blend of education, opportunity, and entrepreneurial spirit can position Wales as a leader in the ever-evolving games industry.

As we continue to innovate and expand our goal remains clear: to champion the Welsh games industry, inspire the next generation of developers, and continue to make games that captivate and engage audiences worldwide. This journey isn’t just about building games – it’s about building an enduring legacy right here in Wales.

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