Something disturbing happened at Casual Connect in Seattle. I had a conversation that went along the lines of:
Me: I’m from Ludometrics, we’re based in Scotland.
Other: Scotland, cool, Is there much of a games industry there, then?
If it had been a one-off, I might have brushed it off. But it wasn’t – it happened at least twice a day for the three days of the conference. When I mentioned GTA, there was some vague recognition from some people that they’d heard it was made in Scotland, once, somewhere, a while ago. And really, aside from GTA, what else is there you can mention?
Me (looking into camera): Uh-oh.
You may say that Casual Connect was the wrong conference to talk about that, given the legacy of Lemmings, Crackdown and GTA. APB hasn’t been doing too badly either. The problem with that, though, is that virtually every company in Scotland is now working on mobile or social games – pretty much what the whole conference was centred around.
You may say it doesn’t matter, nobody really cares where the games are made. That may be true on some level, but on another level – attracting (or even just retaining) talent to the country to help make those games is a fairly critical part of having an “industry”.
I’ve written about this before (in The Scale of the Problem), where I lament the lack of famous games in attracting outsiders. But if other people in the industry don’t realise we have a games industry here, we’re in trouble my friends. I don’t want to work in the Scottish games cottage industry.
So what to do? Making games that make money (as opposed to making money by making games) would be a good start. Talking about them, getting other people talking about them and telling people where they’re made would also be good ideas.
Telling people where they’re made sounds simple enough. Inspired by “Made in New York”, I’ve created a new site which is called (amazingly), “Made in Scotland”. If you’re making games (or any sort of tech) in Scotland, please go there and add your company to the list (it’s a simple form). Include the simple phrase “Made in Scotland” on your credits or options screen. People who want to or do work in games look at these screens. They’ll see it. It seems like a small thing, but small things matter. And it’s helped well enough for the tech scene in New York, so why not for Scotland?