Preview: GameHorizon 2014
From NaturalMotion to tax breaks to Innovation Awards, GameHorizon is ready for another triumphant year
The GameHorizon conference has revealed its full line-up of sessions, featuring contributions from NaturalMotion's Torsten Reil, Jagex's Mark Gerhard, CCP Games' Hilmar Pétursson, and UKIE's guide for claiming the UK industry's newly introduced tax credits.
Starting Wednesday May 7, Revolution Software's Charles Cecil will host two days of discussion covering the biggest challenges and most promising opportunities facing the games industry today.
The first day opens with a keynote address from Torsten Reil, who built NaturalMotion from an animation middleware specialist into one of the most formidable game companies in the UK, ultimately leading to its $527 million acquisition by Zynga.
Reil will be followed by Herman Narula, CEO of Improbable, whose talk 'Game Development - A Different Path' will offer insight into the culture of an exciting new studio comprising talent from Lionhead, Crytek and Ubisoft.
The programme continues with a topical panel hosted by UKIE CEO Jo Twist on 'How To Claim Your Games Tax Credit'. Tax relief for the UK industry was granted just weeks ago, pointing to a bright future for British developers of all sizes. With contributions from Saffery Champness accountants, the legal firm Harbottle & Lewis and the BFI's head of tax relief certification, this session will illuminate developers on a vital new opportunity for the UK games industry.
GameHorizon's first day continues with two sessions giving advice on staying competitive in an increasingly challenging marketplace.
The first, a panel called 'Getting Your Indie Game Off the Ground in 2014', will feature contributions from the veteran UK studios Ruffian Games and Revolution Software, as well as Square Enix, whose innovative indie publishing initiative, The Collective, has won praise from all corners of the industry. Sega's vice president of digital distribution, John Clark, will then draw from nearly 20 years of experience in sales, marketing and executive leadership to advise developers on how to, 'Connect To The Consumer'.
The first day of GameHorizon closes with the inaugural GamesIndustry Innovation Awards, the only peer-voted ceremony exclusively focused on honouring the brightest and most original thinkers in the industry today.
The second day opens with a session featuring another of the UK industry's most influential figures: Jonathan Smith, who, as strategic director of TT Games Publishing, is a key figure behind the success of the widely admired and consistently successful LEGO game series.
SuperAwesome's Dylan Collins offers a different perspective on the young gaming demographics the LEGO games so capably serve in his talk, 'How This Generation of Kids are Destroying Gaming!' Collins founded DemonWare and Jolt Online, and now runs Europe's largest kid and teen focused marketing platform.
Ian Livingstone CBE will explore the vital issue of nurturing new generations of talent in the UK in his talk, 'Code, Create, Collaborate - Should Games be the Poster Child for the Digital Skills Agenda?' As one of the architects of the Next Gen Skills initiative, which restored programming and computer science to the national curriculum, Livingstone is perhaps the country's leading expert in this area.
The second day closes with a talk from someone who symbolises GameHorizon's progressive agenda: Hilmar Pétursson, CEO of CCP Games, one of gaming's truly iconoclastic developers.
GameHorizon is held at The Sage in Gateshead from May 7 to 8. To purchase a ticket visit the GameHorizon website, where you will also find more information on the speakers and the complete schedule - including the GameHorizon party and Poker Tournament.