The unsung heroes of the UK’s games development community have been named at an awards ceremony during the Develop Brighton event
The winners of the inaugural Game Dev Heroes awards have been revealed.
Designed to recognise the talent and hard work of individuals within the game development sector, the Game Dev Heroes are the brainchild of industry veteran Alex Boucher, who also hosted the intimate awards ceremony at Mesmerist, Brighton.
The winners were chosen by a judging panel comprising senior figures from across the industry, namely:
Adam Campbell – Azoomee
Ben Sewell - Launchpad
Caroline Hinds – Creative England
Dana Ramnarine – Rhum
Ed Perkins – Square Enix
Eithne Metcalfe-Bliss – SEGA
Emma Purvey - Outplay
Emma Smith – Creative Assembly
Emma Turner – Outplay Entertainment
Harinder Sangha – SEGA Hardlight
Ian Goodall – Aardvark Swift
Jamie Clarke – Games Jobs Direct
Kish Hirani – Terra Virtual
Lisa Carter – Mimram Media
Marie-Claire Isaaman – Women in Games
Marina Jonsdottir – Wargaming
Nick Dixon – Falmouth Launchpad
Nick Duncombe – Playground Games
Rosemary Buahin – Curve Digital
Simon Iwaniszak – Red Kite Games
Tamsin O’Luanaigh – nDreams
Thad – Boss Alien
Yvonne Dawes – Frontier Developments
Here we reveal the winners – and some commentary from those who nominated them…
Art & Animation
Anna Hollinrake, Senior Artist, Dream Reality Interactive
"Incredible visual artist and all around good egg. I can't think of anyone more deserving.”
“Again and again, Anna has pushed the limits of visual story telling for her professional and personal work. Working on projects like Lola and the Giant, Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion and newly announced Arca's Path, Anna always adds her own personal flair and unique taste to everything she touches.”
“Anna not only has large strength in her work but she also is a passionate advocate for mental health awareness and creating healthy work spaces in games.”
Meg Jayanth, Freelance Writer & Narrative Designer
"Meg has helped to completely change the way people view narrative design, opening up a whole new understanding of what can be achieved through great writing in games."
“Meg is the award-winning lead writer for 80 Days, a game with writing so good it made a Telegraph list of best novels. With projects including Sunless Sea and the highly anticipated Sable, Meg is inspiring a whole generation of writers and narrative designers, showing what can be achievable in games.”
“Meg's work has had a significant impact in writing for games & has been influential in paving the way for a new wave of great narrative-based games.”
Lesleyann White, Quality Analyst & Support, Failbetter Games
"She's the definition of hero... She deserves all the recognition in the world for doing her job so well you'd think we have no bugs or problems at all! Hero, hero, hero!!"
“As Failbetter's first dedicated in-house QA person, Lesleyann immediately created a space for herself and her work that brought an amazing level of thoroughness and quality, streamlining the production structure and creating more effective new processes wherever problems are found.
“Described as a fantastic colleague and an incredibly caring and considerate individual, she's always ready to do the extra bit to make coming to work a complete joy, inspiring colleagues to keep working to make this industry a welcoming place. Lesleyann has even stepped up with her organisational and team building skills, reviving the studio's game night and becoming famous for her game-themed fruit platter creations!”
Sam Hughes, Founder The Sound Architect & Intern at Remedy Entertainment
"Sam [and the team] have massively helped to raise the profile and understanding of games audio in recent years. Sam's a great ambassador and his work is genuinely appreciated."
“Sam doesn't need a great deal of introduction to anyone involved in audio, with his work behind The Sound Architect blog and podcast series already being very familiar across the game audio world. He puts a huge amount of time and effort into his work and is always looking to create more inclusive space for people marginalised by the industry.”
“Sam will often attend events and set up interviews on his own time and funding, all while studying for a PhD at York University and now also working as an intern sound designer at Remedy in Finland.”
Jessica Gaskell, Producer, Sumo Digital
"Her professionalism and attitude towards work inspire me to do my best every day and I can honestly say she is the best boss I have ever had."
“Although Jess isn't responsible for creating any of the content that goes into the game or the direction, she's pivotal in ensuring that all the component pieces get done and come together as a whole. She has in-depth knowledge of her projects, all the component parts, the associated roles and how everything interacts.”
“With an unparalleled work ethic and a sense of selflessness, Jess is described as a catalyst for success, a production powerhouse, and long overdue for the recognition she deserves.”
“On top of that she is a key person in fostering the team's friendly culture, recognising the value of individuals in their skills but also as people, and her respect towards mental health and health related issue are a breath of fresh air.”
John Campbell, Technical Director, Triangular Pixels
"[John] is incredible... He is by far the best games developer I have ever worked with and I’m so proud of him."
“John is always busy behind the scenes creating excellent gameplay that whole studios get the credit for, but John just wants to create games people will love and enjoy. He always wants to make everyone else's lives better by spending that extra effort to not only make players experience better - but also that of his coworkers with the tools and systems he came up with.”
“He is always helping other developers out on online groups, always sharing his knowledge, and isn’t afraid to be technical in his developer talks. He is always researching new methods and techniques which he could adapt to games development, and thinking out of the box to make some really innovative solutions.”
Marketing & Community
Hollie Pattison, PR & Marketing Manager, Ripstone Games
"[Hollie] has an amazing passion, always enthusiastic and willing to get involved in anything, going above and beyond her role."
“Since joining Ripstone in 2016, Hollie has shown great progress in developing her skills and knowledge of the publishing side of the business, as well as learning a lot more about games development. As part of the launch team for several indie games across all platforms, she's been instrumental in the ongoing marketing campaigns for multiple projects.”
“Always enthusiastic and passionate about games, Hollie even started her own games site at 16, and is eager to play an active role in everything from media and influencer relations to writing store copy and aiding PR strategy, as well as being a SpecialEffect charity ambassador, helping to raise awareness as well as funds for the charity.”
Thad Frogley, Technical Director, BossAlien
"Thad's contribution to the culture of his studio, the industry's outreach towards young people of all backgrounds, and the careers of all those who've had the pleasure of working with him can't be overstated."
“Thad's management style, focused on mentorship and empowerment, gives everyone on his team a fantastic start in the industry.”
“Thad fights hard to ensure talented graduates or interns that may have struggled to find a personality fit at other studios are given a chance to thrive on his team. Colleagues from previous studios across his career now have whole careers of their own founded on Thad's belief in their potential, going on to become invaluable team members as a result of Thad's mentorship.”
Bill Donegan, Project Manager
"[Bill] is a true unsung hero... whose work has transformed the lives of disabled gamers from all over the world through his R&D work at SpecialEffect."
“Bill’s imagination, creativity and drive have been at the heart of SpecialEffect’s technical achievements ever since the charity began in 2007. As well as playing a crucial role in the team’s success in creating access solutions for hundreds of severely disabled individuals in the U.K., he has also helped create solutions that have had a global impact, too.”
“He was Project Lead in creating SpecialEffect’s open-source ‘EyeMine’ software, a gaze-controlled interface to Minecraft launched earlier this year. Bill also played a key role in the success of recently launched and globally acclaimed XBox Adaptive Controller, co-ordinating SpecialEffect’s contribution, alongside that of other charity partners, to both its design and development.”
Helen Andrzejowska, Director, Ocean Spark Studios
"Helen constantly goes above and beyond to inspire and enthuse girls to consider a career in games."
“Helen founded Ocean Spark Studios with the aim of increasing the amount of women working within the industry, as she truly believes a balanced workforce is a better workforce. Although the studio is only small, she constantly perseveres to try and make a difference with educational & informative visits across schools & colleges.”
“Helen (and co-director Ellie Brown) regularly host workshops to introduce more girls & young people to games as a career, inspiring them to join a creative and wonderful industry, while also advocating the merits of student startup and indie studios.”
Mike Simpson, Creative Director, Creative Assembly
“For the last 17 years Mike has been the creative force behind Total War, now the most successful PC games franchise of all time, helping to take Creative Assembly from five to 500 employees as it grew from indie developer to publisher-owned super-studio. Mike has a vast knowledge of the industry, which he uses to support BAFTA, sitting on their Committee.”
Alex Boucher, organiser of the Game Dev Heroes awards said: “A huge congratulations to all the winners and, indeed, the finalists. We’re delighted with how the Game Dev Heroes awards have been received and look forward to taking the event forward in 2019 and beyond.
“And, of course, a big thank you to our sponsors Aardvark Swift, Games Jobs Direct, Square Enix, Launchpad, Mimram Media and Analog.”