Chairman, Sumo Group plc
Co-founder and Partner, Hiro Capital
Ian is one of the founding fathers of the UK games industry. He co-founded iconic games company Games Workshop in 1975 with Steve Jackson, launching Dungeons & Dragons in Europe, Warhammer and the Games Workshop retail chain. In 1995 he co-led the merger that created Eidos plc where he served as Executive Chairman until 2002. At Eidos he launched blockbuster video games including Lara Croft: Tomb Raider.
From 2012-2017, he served as Chairman of Playdemic, developers of the mega-hit mobile game Golf Clash. He was an angel investor in Mediatonic, developers of global hit video game Fall Guys. He is currently Chairman of Sumo Group plc and a Partner of Hiro Capital.
He is a leading advocate for ‘the power of play’ through games-based learning and digital creativity. In 2011 co-authored the Livingstone-Hope Next Gen review published by NESTA, recommending changes in ICT education policy to include computer science in the national curriculum. He chaired the Next Gen Skills campaign, working with government to introduce the new Computing curriculum in schools in 2014.
Head of Commercial and Membership, UKIE
Sam is the Head of Commercial and Membership at Ukie, responsible for recruiting and supporting members and helping them thrive. His 20+ years industry experience includes stints at start-up developers through to international publishers working in a variety of commercial roles. Sam's superpowers include connecting people and international trade.
Founder and CEO, XR Games
Bobby Thandi is the Founder and CEO of award-winning games development studio, XR Games. Founded in 2017, XR specialises in immersive virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) games and has produced blockbusters such as Zombieland: Headshot Fever and Angry Birds: Under Pressure. Bobby is also a board committee member for XR Stories and SIGN – a £15m investment by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and other partners to support research and development for companies working in cutting-edge digital technologies in the Yorkshire and Humber region.
Director, Games Jobs Live
Colin MacDonald is the Director of Games Jobs Live – a new age virtual showcase of the best games studios in the UK. Livestreamed on YouTube, Games Jobs Live’s events are free and open to all attendees and highlight the many job opportunities available to those looking for work in the UK games industry.
Colin has worked in video games for more than 25 years, having founded and run companies in all parts of the sector from mobile gaming to AAA console games development studios. In 1997, he was a Producer on the multi-billion-dollar Grant Theft Auto (GTA) franchise and oversaw the development of the BAFTA-winning game Crackdown.
Founder, Women Making Games
CEO, Silent Games
Sally Blake is the CEO of AA games development studio Silent Games and Founder of Women Making Games (WOMG) – a support organization for women working in the games industry. A strong advocate for diversity in the sector, Sally Blake was previously a Senior Producer at games studios including No More Robots and Hammerhead, as well as a Producer at Ubisoft Reflections running four teams working on the blockbuster game, Tom Clancy’s The Division.
Now developing her own IP at Silent Games, Sally is also involved with numerous diversity initiatives, workshops, panels and local mentorship schemes. She wants people from all background to feel welcome in the games industry.
Chair, British Esports Association
Andy Payne is a games industry veteran and current Chair of the British Esports Association, which works to promote esports in the UK by increasing awareness about the opportunities available and inspiring future talent. Andy is well known for founding The Producers in the 1980s before going on to become CEO of Mastertronic and Chairman of Ukie.
Now a Patron of the BAFTA Video Games Committee, Andy is a passionate advocate of UK gaming and a disability champion for the SpecialEffect charity, which uses video games and technology to enhance the quality of life for people with different abilities.
Games Sector Specialist, Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership
Sam Read is the Games Sector Specialist for the Enterprise M3 (EM3) Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), which focuses on delivering regional economic growth for games and immersive tech companies across West Surrey.
Having worked in the games industry for 11 years, Sam has been a key part of multiple AAA projects and is credited as having created the first networking event for the Guildford games cluster, which is now described as the Hollywood of video games. Sam also produces the Guildford Games website, stream page and annual festival.
Assistant Producer, Animex
Jess Crawford is an Assistant Producer at Teesside University working on the production of its annual Animex Festival and on the running of its in-house digital production studio TUCan. Working in partnership with the public and private sector, TUCan brings together multidisciplinary teams of graduates, academic staff and researchers to collaborate on a range of games and interactive entertainment focused solutions.
A Teesside University postgraduate herself, Jess is an experienced Games Designer with a strong interest in games research and project management.
Stephen’s career spans nearly 30 years of games PR, advertising, product marketing and latterly the role of Marketing Director at EA studio, Chillingo. Although Stephen loves games, he is terrible at them, but has a deep understanding of why people play games and what triggers them to buy. He is lucky enough to have worked on some stand out games and franchises from Worms, Star Wars, Resident Evil, Cut The Rope and Micro Machines to WWE, FIFA, World of Tanks and Dead Cells.
In March 2017 Stephen set up games marketing consultancy HeyStephenHey, dedicated to helping indie developers formulate and execute marketing strategies. Since starting the company Stephen has worked with developers such as Milky Tea, Huey Games, Yippee Entertainment, and Wargaming.
Today HeyStephenHey specialises in:
• Indie Games Marketing – Stephen works with indie developers to develop marketing, creative and community strategies for Indies to enable them to take their games to market. As well as individual developers Stephen works with teams and groups from NI Screen, Teeside University, Creative England and NextGen Education.
• Business Development – Stephen works with Indie publisher, Merge Games, to ‘talent scout’ and sign games for their portfolio and to develop relationships with first parties.
• Game Projects – Stephen works as a ‘plug in’ marketing director for projects like Red Bull’s ‘Mind Gamer’ initiative where Stephen was charged with strategically aligning the project closely with the video games community. Stephen has also been in demand to act as Marketing Director coverage whilst publishers head-hunt new staff and called up to create pitches for publishing and funding for larger teams.
Stephen is a BAFTA member and humbled to be an ambassador for the gamer’s charity, SpecialEffect, with whom he is working on a major initiative for Q4. Stephen is also an official Creative England mentor.