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Brighton Hub Crawl 2023: An overview


Here at Ukie the new year means one thing: the start of the much loved Ukie Hub Crawl, now in it’s 6th year. And the 2023 edition’s theme is ‘Developers Unite’ – a celebration of the UK game developer community and their willingness to share knowledge to help each other succeed. Alongside a cheery yellow banner to brighten up a dull January day, Sam Collins headed off to Brighton to a jam packed Barclay Eagle Lab to host our first session of the series.

Our first speaker was Seb Long, Managing Director of Player Research with his talk ‘Teaching Players how to Play’ where he noted how frontloading information to players rarely works. Instead, he encouraged developers to think about how information could be presented in the context of the game, presenting three strategies for learning: Explain (formal tutorials), Expect (following well established game playing mechanisms) and Experimentation (searching for clues to figure out what to do). Watch Seb’s talk to find out more.

Next up was Dax Ginn, Studio Director at Whatboy Games who presented a relatable talk about ‘The Problem with Passion’. Mapping his professional life out from law, to a chance meeting in a pub, to various studios and then to his own. Despite working on multiple well-known games and being what many would consider ‘successful’, Dax reflected how ‘happiness’ wasn’t always related to such successes. Leading to a studio culture at WhatBoy Games where time, space and facilities exist for colleagues to meet their personal goals, no questions asked. Listen to Dax’s fascinating story in more detail here.

Our final speaker was Estelle Baily, Localisation Director from Hi-Rez studios who spoke about the very important topic of imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or education level with around 70 percent of people impacted at least once in their lifetime. Running through some academic research, celebrities with imposter syndrome and how people without imposter syndrome move through the world, Estelle concluded with two takeaways: firstly, develop your analytical comparison skills – think ‘what can I learn from them’ rather than ‘I’ll never be as good as them’ for example. Secondly, believe in yourself and others – if someone has given you a promotion or opportunity, you earned it. Also what may feel easy to you, might not be to others in comparison, but this is often hard to see. Watch Estelle’s fact packed talk here to learn more.

Finally, we had our first Hub Crawl Hero of the series, Dan Pitchbeck, Creative Director at The Chinese Room. “Hub Crawl Heros” is a new addition for the 2023 Hub Crawl, seeing a representative from a studio who has done exceptional work within a particular UK region or area of game making. Settling down for a cosy fireside chat, Sam asked Dan to explain the origin of The Chinese Room with Dan remarking that there’s very rarely a conventional start to any studio. One of the key takeaways was a reflection on current mobility with the UK games job market, noting how it’s more common now to hop from company to company, ending up in a senior position without ever shipping a game. Here, he suggested, was where burnout can happen, and studios need to make sure there is adequate support and training. Likewise, often those working in games are passionate people and it crucial for studios protect their staff from slipping into crunch style practices. Dan wrapped up the talk through highlighting Brighton’s important role in the UK games ecosystem, because of how many great businesses and creative people live there, fostering a sense of community. Watch Dan’s chat in detail here.

A big thank you to everyone who came along to our best attended Hub Crawl since 2020, it is nothing without the generosity of our speakers who donate their time and effort to speaking for us and for our attendees who come along, ready to learn, chat and mingle. As always, thanks to Barclays who once again have been fantastic partners in helping us put on the Hub Crawl series.

Book your tickets now for upcoming Hub Crawls in Newcastle, Glasgow and Belfast.

Alternatively book for a virtual session: ‘Developing for Mobile in 2023’, ‘Remote Working in UK Games Industry’, ‘Making Games Sustainably’ and ‘Making Games Using Cloud Software’.

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