Gaming Studios - Beatrice Curnew
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Gaming Studios

I am deeply grateful to Paul Mclaughlin from Versatile Voices for suggesting I accompany him to a TIGA event yesterday. It was illuminating and educational. Being a morning conference on ‘Growing your own Games Studio’, it was mostly new to me (the subject matter, not the early morning). Gaming isn’t an area of Voice Over work that I have branched into yet. I am keen though and this was the perfect opportunity to learn.

One of the first things to hit me was how nice it was to be in a room void of actors and VO artists. Not because I don’t like them – they are my people; my tribe; I am one of them after all. However it meant that I felt no judgement or competition and I had some seriously great conversations with people I would never normally get to meet. My eyes were opened to the many faceted world of gaming.

Although it wasn’t specifically aimed at me it gave me real insight and so many of the things that were touched upon related to my VO business metaphorically, if not practically.

TIGA is the non profit trade association representing the UK’s Gaming Industry. They are fabulous and such free events as this demonstrate only too clearly how their generosity of time and network are promoting a warm and connected industry in which to work. Hosted at Charles Russell Speech-lys ,  at 8am gave me the thrill of pretending to be a corporate city type but also provided great surroundings for networking and listening.

After some much needed coffee, pastries, networking and card exchanging we settled down to listen. First up was John Tearle from Flix Interactive who talked about setting up a games studio and tech support. He was a real dude and talked about how key it was to spend time focusing and understanding what success was to you and then honing your business plan to something tangible. For them it had been about having their own IP, which of course is a Gaming Companies biggest asset. For others it might be something else. He then discussed the notion of balance between developing your own IP and out sourcing. He talked about always thinking about what is next when it comes to keeping tabs on being successful or at least aiming for your goal. I couldn’t agree with this more!

Mario Viviani from Amazon App Store was up next. He calls himself a Technology Evangelist. In the world of extremism and hate that w alive in right now this seems to me to be the best kind of evangelist! He looked at why certain apps are successful and how the ‘Power Users’ are kept happy and loyal. He had many wise words. He talked about connection. That understanding the connection that the gamer feels in relation to you and your app is paramount. For me, understanding the connection I have with my voice, my client, the words I have to speak, my business – is all key. Only Connection!

Denis Terpanov from Pollen Velocity Capital spoke next. Pollen VC gives mobile developers early access to their app store and advertising revenues, enabling them to scale quickly and efficiently without reliance on equity funding or venture debt. I liked the sound of what Pollen do enormously and he delivered a punchy message: Keep control of your business, focus on balance and organisation and visualise success with financial forecasting. Boom. Simples.

We then had a talk from James Pilbeam from RSM about Employee incentivisation and Retention. I enjoyed this because as a self employed one-man-band I must keep incentivising myself. While he was talking I had written in bold in my notes ‘ Book facial’. On a serious note it is amazing how many gaming companies there are in Guildford (around 60) and I love the stat that if 70% of your employees feel motivated to give their best then your operating income will increase by 19%! I must keep motivated… pedicure next!

It was interesting to hear Jaclyn Wilkins, a Lawyer from Charles Russell, speak about the legal considerations in growing a gaming studio. I was fascinated how the EU and Brexit will be effecting various data protection issues! I came away from her excellent talk intrigued by the world of compliance and how vital it is to keep on top of it. Let’s cross those t’s and dot those i’s!

Autodesk’s Morgan Evans gave a superb introduction to Shotgun. It is brilliant software – ‘the glue to the human pipeline of production’ as he put it. If I had a need for it in my life I would use it!

There was then a talk from someone who clearly wished not to be there and who oozed passive aggression from every pore. I won’t mention them or their company but surely it is a pre requisite for small businesses to be enthusiastic and seize every opportunity?!

Finally we were treated to Harvey Elliott of Playstack. He gave a superb talk on the world of Funding; the pros and cons. Again, he touched on balance and keeping business and life separate. Wise words my friend.

Within all the tech jargon and complex anagrams and details that went over my head, I found the talks fascinating and the Q & A’s pertinent and open.

I have to add that the time keeping of the speakers was immaculate and put into practice with mili second precision. Very impressive!

It was invaluable to be introduced to this world and I will go to many more such events. It helped me see where the VO slots into the process, the amount of work and graft that goes into gaming and as with anything, how passion, tenacity and drive are what push people forward. I have taken the first step into my relationship with Gaming. Now to get my Gaming Reel completed!!

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