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Guildford: Games industry meets as Surrey 'cluster' grows in importance

By Dan Teuton
21 July 2017

Funding for start-up games companies in Surrey, the launch of a Guildford Games Academy and a Guildford-based Games Festival were among the topics discussed by speakers and panellists at the third annual G3 Futures event, aimed at maintaining the strength of the Guildford-based games hub.

The event in July, organised by the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP) at the University of Surrey, UKIE (UK Interactive Entertainment trade body) and South East technology law specialist Charles Russell Speechlys, brought together over 100 games developers and industry specialists from Guildford and the South East.

Among the participants were Peter Molyneux, founder and CEO of 22 Cans who is often referred to as ‘the Godfather of Gaming’; Simon Harris, executive producer at Supermassive; and Steve Watt from nDreams.

A key focus at this year’s event was VR – with panellists and keynote speaker Simon Reveley from Figment Productions discussing the latest technology developments as well as the opportunities and barriers to the uptake of VR.

Sam Collins from UKIE, who chaired the Games and VR panel, commented: “Surrey-based companies are already pushing boundaries in terms of VR capabilities and there is a huge opportunity for Guildford to be a world leading hub in VR, building on its games expertise.”

Nick Hurley, partner at Charles Russell Speechlys, informed the audience about the G3’s Industrial Strategy and the steps that have been taken by the G3 Working Party* to encourage more support from the Government to invest in Guildford as a key UK-based games cluster.

Hurley said: “Retaining Guildford’s reputation as a major technology and games hub is paramount. We have a thriving games community, with over 60 studios and more than 1,000 employees, and local studios making games which are enjoyed by millions of people worldwide. In order to maintain Guildford’s international reputation, we need to focus on training, retaining and attracting the best talent post-Brexit and have access to more investment and professional support. We also need stronger infrastructure, with more affordable premises for smaller studios.”

Hurley explained that a document had been submitted to Sir Peter Bazalgette and Greg Clark MP in response to the Government’s Industrial Strategy, with a request for inward investment. Positive discussions have already taken place with Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council who hope to be involved in the initiative.

The final speaker at the event was Keith Robson from the University of Surrey’s 5G Centre, who announced the launch of the world’s first 5G Digital Games Hub at the University of Surrey, thanks to a £1.75m investment from Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Robson said: “This is a world-class development and a great example of how we are leading the way in terms of 5G for the games industry. Having such high tech capabilities in Guildford will help to put us ‘on the UK map’ and will hopefully play a key role in helping to attract further investment.”

Professor Adrian Hilton, director of CVSSP at the University of Surrey added: “G3 Futures has been another hugely successful event. Supporting each other, sharing ideas, collaborating on projects and learning about the latest developments in the industry is key to keeping the local games community strong, helping to maintain Guildford’s reputation as a world-class games development hub.”

The organisers of G3 Futures have created a website as a central communications hub for the local gaming community. Local developers and gaming specialists can register on the site, post job opportunities, join in forums and learn about future events.

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