Hot on the heels of Develop’s 30 under 30, respected publication GamesIndustry.biz recently published their list of the most influential people in the British games industry. Three of them are members of the Ubisoft family! Let’s run them down …
Ian Harper – Managing Director, Future Games of London
Harper started in game development aged 9, at the click-clack keys of a BBC Micro – later making a series of 2D shoot em ups for the Commodore Amiga during his teens. His first proper job in the games industry was at Codemasters where he worked as a graphics programmer on Colin McRae Rally 2, before moving on to Elixir Studios where he worked on Evil Genius. Inspired by the proliferation of mobile phones and the release of the iPhone, he co-founded Future Games of London in 2009 – the studio behind the Hungry Shark series. Future Games joined Ubisoft in 2013.
Of the Ubisoft acquisition, he told GamesIndustry.biz, “Nobody can make you sell your business – it’s got to be something you want to do. If you want to remain at the company after the acquisition, picking the right partner is key. Understand why they are interested in you and make sure that your long-term goals are aligned. With Ubisoft’s help, we’ve been able to grow our business significantly in China and put our games on many new platforms. Our headcount has doubled in three years, something that we didn’t have the financial ability to do before. Ubisoft has a great track record of creative freedom and supporting its studios after acquisition. Too often developers are closed a few years after being acquired.”
Giselle Stewart OBE – Director, UK Corporate Affairs, Ubisoft
Following her MBA, Stewart joined Reflections in Newcastle as the studio’s General Manager in the mid-90s, around the time of Destruction Derby and Driver. While at Reflections she’s worked tirelessly with a variety of organisations like Creative Skillset and Dynamo to build and raise the profile of digital skills and talent in the UK. Reflections became a Ubisoft studio in 2006, and – in 2015 – Stewart became the companies Director of UK Corporate Affairs. In this role, she’s built on her past experience to establish Ubisoft as the go-to source for the government when it needs advice on policies related to creative talent. In recognition of this, she was awarded an OBE for her services to the industry in the 2015 New Years Honours.
She told GamesIndustry.biz, “The industry must step further into the education space to inspire young people. There are plenty of industry professionals who have stories to tell and advice to give, so making them accessible to teachers and young people would be a great start. Or we should set up code clubs – the more kids that program at school, the better.”
Rob Cooper – Managing Director, Northern Europe, Ubisoft
Proud Yorkshireman Cooper started his games industry journey back in 1990 at Ipswich-based Trivial Pursuit rights holders Sans Serif. After successful stints at Bandai, Nintendo, Codemasters and THQ, he joined the Ubisoft family, where he has remained for 17 years driving the UK success of brands such as Just Dance and Assassin’s Creed. One of Cooper’s proudest moment is selling the first 5,000 original green-screen Game Boys in the UK market to Dixons back in September 1990.
He told GamesIndustry.biz, “[Ubisoft CEO] Yves Guillemot is such an inspirational man and has created a company of passion, loyalty, and amazing drive. To be part of this has been wonderful. It is easy to forget how fortunate we all are to be part of this industry. Sometimes I do think, ‘How did this happen to me?’ My goal is to help young people get experience either at a Ubisoft studio or commercial office.”
Congratulations to Ian, Giselle and Rob! I once sat behind Yves Guillemot on a coach to an event (he smelt luxurious), so if anyone wants to nominate me for next year, please go ahead.