By Harry Cole
Did you know The British Library has Business Centres across the UK offering free resources and professional support to UK start-ups?
The UK government is working with The British Library to offer even more than the wealth of knowledge that can be found in books. It’s now a resource for small businesses, offering support and materials that in most instances would only available to major corporations.
Ideal for games, high-tech and apps companies, you could almost set up and run an entire business from your library. We’re talking city centre positions in Liverpool, Manchester, London, etc. With free WiFi, desk space, chill out areas, free research materials and databases worth over five million pounds.
You can join in sessions with local business representatives and entrepreneurs. Specialists are available to discuss IP Advice and other areas key to running a business. One-to-one sessions are available, or you can attend workshops and mini classes. The business hubs are tied to local government, with MPs and entrepreneurs in the local area backing initiatives. There are also advanced sessions which you can pay for.
There’s a specific team nationally to handle the initiative and representatives at major libraries across the country. In total there are eight national network centres across the UK, available six days a week.
In addition the British Library run a three month scheme worth £10,000 in support for business owners looking to scale up their company, called Innovating For Growth. It’s in partnership with the European Union, so you better be quick.
The remit of the Business Centres is to support ‘small business owners, entrepreneurs and inventors like you.’ So make sure you get in contact and take advantage of this plethora of support.
I was lucky enough to meet the British Library at the International Business Festival in Liverpool, thanks to our friends at UKIE for the invitation.
If you are interested in hearing more then visit http://www.bl.uk/business-and-ip-centre Just no shouting please, this is still a library.
By Veronica Moine
Design is an integral part of everyday life: It’s the background of all social interactions, especially at work. I was recently tasked to recommend some improvements to the Dimoso office, and it got me thinking about how design can influence morale, relationships amongst colleagues and the overall perception of the workplace.
In the 50s Psychogeography became a well established discipline and was used to study the effects of the geographical environment on emotions and behaviour. Nowadays architects and designers still rely on it to understand how people interact with and within the urban space.
In recent times, research has broadened to include the relationships between the design of the workplace and the business performance; showing the enormous impact that elements like space, light, furniture and colour have on how we work, on our ability to focus and be productive.
The latest office trend has been to have an open-space environment instead of cellular office. Encouraging colleagues to work as a team and share ideas in real time are some of the most evident benefits of an open plan space. A further element is the ease of maintenance particularly in terms of temperature control. Another advantage of this spatial structure is the ability to have flexible seating arrangements enabling workers to find the best place to work and get inspiration.
Light is a key component of our vision of the world. Inadequate lighting can cause eye strain, headache and indirectly affects your mood, energy and behaviour. A good office design should take advantage of natural light or use an indirect lighting source in combination with a small direct one.
Furniture plays an important role in increased productivity. Functional, visually appealing and moveable furniture makes the working space enjoyable and recognisable, allowing employees to reconfigure the work space according to their work style.
Ergonomic chairs are designed to help achieve good posture while working, preventing long-term problems such as back pain. Yet if you like to combine efficiency with physical exercise you can opt for a standing desk. This will help to achieve your daily activity goals quicker, as well as a counter to heart disease and obesity.
Also colours have psychological effects on business performance.
What I have found is, it doesn’t matter if you can’t afford a full office refurbishment, a small budget can improve your workplace dramatically simply by paying attention to small details. And the benefits can be seen and felt straight away. A cosy and liveable office will increase employees satisfaction and the sense of belonging to the company. Working in a place that reflects your needs is the first step for facing business challenges and building constructive relationships with colleagues and clients.
By Costanza Passeri
Last week Dimoso attended the annual UKIE Westminster VIP Games Reception. The evening was a celebration of excellence and creativity and a great chance to discuss the political agenda for games in the aftermath of Brexit.
The event took place at in the wonderful Whitehall Court, an incredible venue for such an important event in the games industry calendar. The special night held by Ukie aimed to bring together the most important names in games industry with leading figures of UK Parliament.
(Photo: One Whitehall Place library, venue of the event)
Ukie is a not-for-profit organisation that represents companies from small startups to large developers in games industry, working across online, mobile apps, consoles, PC, eSports, VR and AR.
The goal of the organisation is to support and promote their members, helping them grow in the UK games and interactive entertainment industry.
Guests were welcomed in the majestic One Whitehall Place library, between old paintings and modern screens where new generations of video games were being played.
The stands of Activision Blizzard, London Games Festival, SpecialEffect, Farm Heroes Saga and many more entertained the participants, showcasing the latest best practices and innovations.
The speeches, kick-started by Ukie CEO Dr Jo Twist, highlighted just how dynamic and successful the UK games industry is today. The evening demonstrated the government’s support of the games industry.
The presence of Culture Secretary, the Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP, showed this strong relationship so significant in this political period of change. During his keynote speech, the Culture Secretary appealed to the attendees, asking the industry share their voice, their needs and their ideas, in order to keep growing together.
(Photo: the Culture Secretary Rt Hon John Whittingdale MP)
It wasn’t just a night dedicated to innovation. Another strong bond was celebrated, together with values of inclusion and confidence.
Dr Mick Donegan explained the mission of SpecialEffect, a charity using technology to enhance the quality of life of people with physical disabilities.
The organisation played an emotional and intense video to show guests the amazing work done by volunteers using video games.
The power of games and interactive entertainment goes beyond the joy that video games could bring. As the people at Special Effect demonstrate, they can also have a deep positive impact on therapy, confidence and rehabilitation.
By Connie McCool Duncan
The concept of gaming is almost as old as humanity itself. Board games were popular with the pharaohs in Ancient Egypt, while Backgammon was being played throughout the Roman Empire in 2000 BC. The oldest known dice were discovered in a 5,000-year-old burial mound in Turkey and their descendants have been the scourge or saviour of many a family Christmas ever since.
However, as modern reliance upon smartphones spirals ever closer to addiction, more and more industries are undergoing a digital transformation. Having thus far withstood the test of time, some doubt that the board game industry can resist a similar revolution.
While it took 15 years for half of the UK population to get a mobile phone and 14 years to get multi-channel TV, newer technologies such as online catch up TV and social networking websites reached this landmark in just four years. This rapid development has led to a correspondingly rapid change in the way that we entertain ourselves and interact with others.
Yet the evidence does not suggest that technology is soon to kill off the board game. While digital games are now part of the entertainment mainstream, the past decade has also seen unexpected growth in the industry that many assumed would become redundant in an era of screens. Sales of board games are still dwarfed by those of the latest PC and console blockbusters, but the past four years have seen board game purchases rise by between 25% and 40% annually. Thousands of new titles are released each year, and the top board games sell millions of copies.
The rise of smartphones and tablets has given players an inexpensive way to try digital versions of board games, and many go on to buy physical copies as well. Additionally, online retailers have made rarer games more easily available than they have been in the past, while the power of blogs and social networks has created word-of-mouth buzz for an industry that, until recently, has been largely ignored by mainstream, non-gaming media.
Classic board games are still popular at family gatherings but the pastime has now been seized upon by a more grownup market. Throughout Europe and the US, a new breed of board gaming now thrives. Adopting the complex strategy and imaginary worlds of games like World of Warcraft, there are now titles that allow you to play at building medieval settlements, re-enact pivotal battles, tackle political debating, or manage the spread of disease, and they sell in huge numbers. Gaming enthusiasts, used to interacting with fellow players online, have seemingly embraced the social aspect of playing a board game with friends.
In the UK, the popularity of board games has been further bolstered by the emergence of board game cafesand bars. Set in the heart of Hackney, London’s first board game café, Draughts, took the Internet by storm when it launched in 2014 and now working professionals queue outside, waiting for a table. The café has a range of over 500 games, from popular gems like Articulate and Monopoly to hundreds of lesser-known titles. For £5 per person, customers can play as many games as they want whilst indulging in an expectedly-hipster selection of local craft beers, ales, ciders, and wines.
Rather than disappearing, the board game industry is adapting; a good board game generates a group experience that is different to that which a screen-based game can offer. Interacting with other people, regardless of their location, has been made easier through mediums like Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp, and Snapchat, but nothing beats being in the same room as the person that you are talking to. It is the face-to-face sharing of chaos, scheming, anger, and laughter that will ensure the survival of the board game in an increasingly face-to-screen world.
By Jon Lopera
Vancouver, what a disgustingly beautiful place to hold an unsurprisingly successful event for mobile games and tech.
And while the dust settles on a rather detached week for Great Britain, here we are across the pond making new friends and meeting some of the industry’s most respected and promising companies who’ll no doubt have a positive effect on our future. After all we’re here to build a better world together because when it comes down to it let’s face it, we’re stronger in doing so.
Brexit connotations aside, the games industry has always maintained an air of support for one another and it’s events like SteelMedia’s PG Connects Vancouver that help bridge the gap between established, upcoming and all round talented people who care about one thing – great games and great tech.
Having learnt that Vancouver is one of the fastest growing cities in North America and indeed the world, it’s also evident that we’re surrounded by a place that harbours super talented developers, artists and entrepreneurs who’ve clearly been a major part of this thriving economy. Companies like Eastside Gamesand Hothead Games who’ve created titles such as Dragon Up and Rivals at War respectively, have reaped the rewards of a government whose outspokenly supported the actions of gaming companies for a while now. PG Connects Vancouver has also welcomed companies like ZPLAY from across the world in China and other Asian developers who’ve not only helped provide the local communities with job prospects, but with a gateway for larger business opportunities that help shape to a better market.
We’ve seen many a cool new products over the past week here, spoken to some amazing individuals and met who we believe will be the next big thing in gaming through The Very Big Indie Pitch. Couple the above with a beautiful city, kind local residents and a beautifully built convention centre overlooking the world famous Whistler Mountains, and you get an extremely jealous couple of Brits heading back to a divided country in what feels like it will be a very sad and long journey home.
By Doug Hunter
Like a game of Pong, the referendum debate has been back and forth, there have been epic saves, cheap shots and we have entered the final rally, the ballot boxes are out there and the debate keeps on churning.
Interestingly, Pong is very close to home for EU referendums, the original home version was released at Christmas in the year 1975. We won’t all remember that year, but strangely, in June of the same year, the UK voted on whether to stay in the EU.
Referendum Pong so far
Leave 0 1 Remain
Back to round two of referendum Pong:
Our friends over at UKIE, which is the only trade body for the UK’s games and wider interactive entertainment industry, recently conducted a poll to find out where people in our beloved industry stood when it comes to the EU referendum.
Between the 23rd of May and the 10th of June, the confidential poll was responded too by 20% of its membership. Here are its findings;
When finding out about talent;
Are games companies prepared for Brexit should it happen then?
Does UKIE have a stance?
It is imperative to mention that UKIE will be here to help the games industry as it has so well in the past whatever the result in the early hours tomorrow morning. With that in mind and its position politically, UKIE has rightly refrained from backing either side but worked hard to gather and share the facts. UKIE has stated that the future is uncertain and it will re evaluate its position on how it can best support the industry after the results, we simply don’t know what will be next for the UK. There will most likely be another Scottish referendum within weeks, the leaders on various sides of the Tory Party will be reshuffled left right and center, (even more confusingly than trying to type the konami code on a touchscreen).
If you would like to see the results of the survey in full, here it is.
What is the industry saying then?
We had to look at some of the opinions going and it didn’t take link to find some views from around the UK gaming landscape, here the Guardian shared a piece titled “Why Brexit would be apocalyptic for the games industry” by Jane McConnell. A great read if you get a moment.
A quick look on social media shows the rest of the UK based games industry isn’t lying down and is playing its own shots on political Pong.
Just down the road we have ustwo (you may have heard of them from such titles as Monument Valley and Land’s End), which has made its stance public with tweets such as this and this company blog. I just wish they had rebranded to ustEU, but that’s just me.
Mike Bithell from Bithellgames.com which launched the beautiful thomas was alone, chips in with this tweet,
Another firm favourite of ours at Dimoso is George Osborn over at Mobile Mavericks who happens to have made his view clear here and has summed up in depth the debate for GamesIndustry.biz here – Brexit to Desktop?
As has Keith Andrew with this touching sentiment;
These are just some of our findings – not through lack of trying, we simply have not found any voices from the games industry at time of publishing. Do feel free to share any that you find from either side though.
Finally, what do you think? We would love to hear your thoughts on what is set to be a game changer for the UK, whatever the result.
By Harry Cole
The Dimoso team is heading to Vancouver for one of the biggest events on the Mobile Gaming calendar, Pocket Gamer Connects Vancouver. Some of the biggest names in gaming are attending, including: Unity, EA, Activision, Google, Gram Games, Elex Tech. As well as indie and mobile gaming specialists.
Pocket Gamer has a series of these get togethers all over the world, allowing members of the mobile gaming community to connect and network. This is it’s North American event, others take place in Europe and Asia, with the world’s largest mobile gaming event taking place in London.
There are seven specialist tracks being run at the event, including Indie Futures and East Meets West. There are 80 sessions in total with over 90 speakers. Key aspects of the event are the inclusion of VR which is the hot topic at this time and Made In Vancouver, a chance meet local Developers and Publishers.
Dimoso will be there, team members Jon and Doug will be attending so feel free to come over to speak to us about our clients, our work and opportunities to work with us. We’re the experts on mobile games PR and would love to talk with you. We’re also representing clients at the event including Gram Games, The Specialist Works, Elex Tech, 1DER and Treasure Hunt
We’re also the Pocket Gamer PR Agency of record and can help with any PR opportunities you would like to arrange at the event. We look forward to seeing you there.
#Pocketgamerconnects #vancouver #gamesdevelopment #dimoso #games @dimosoagency@pocketgamerconnects @jonlopera @hunterdoug
By Sanjan Sabherwal
Today the British public have been given the opportunity to vote on whether to leave or remain in the European Union. The last time we had a choice on membership with the EEC was 5th June 1975. 65% of the voting public went to the polls, with 67 percent opting to stay within the single market. Polling agencies predict a far closer result and there’ll be a far greater number of votes in the ballot boxes.
Brexit campaigns have taken over the airwaves since Prime Minister David Cameron fixed a date on February 20th 2016. Since then, the British public has been inundated in a sea of argument, counter-argument, hard-hitting media campaigns, statistical manipulation and leaflets. It’s a challenge for citizens to make a fully rational decision on whether to stay or leave especially without having all the information available in an easy-to-understand formats. It’s equally difficult for political leaders to balance many demands and make the right decisions. I’m sure there are times when presidents and prime ministers would rather kick back and play video games – not political ones!
Often the public feel they would be better at ruling than the current leadership. Whist being in a position of power is not accessible to all, game designers for centuries have enabled everyone to explore their capacity to think strategically. Chess and other military board-games have long fulfilled our aspirations. Attaining world domination at ‘Risk’ often ended in actual violence. However, as computers become powerful enough to simulate more complex gaming scenarios, violence becomes just one aspect of a more complex mix. For example Age of Empires requires players to balance resources to fuel the inevitable fighting.
Released in 2013, Democracy 3 by British developers Positech, became one of the most complex political strategy games ever made. Finally game developers and players are engaging with more sophisticated topics and strategies. The game challenges players to manages the brainache-inducing issues of crime, unemployment, national debt, terrorism and climate change that overshadow western nations in order to win elections. Decisions can be made based on the motivations, desires and loyalties of groups and individual voters. Having data on individual AI’s income, complacency and cynicism offers guidance to players.
The player has access to ‘focus groups’ so they can instantly experience public reaction to changes in policy or manifesto. The attention-to-detail and opportunity to mod mean it is hard to distinguish the game from the socio-economic models used in political institutions to design policy. Unsurprisingly Democracy 3’s simulation engine is based on a neural network. All elements (e.g. groups of voters, policies and events) are interconnected so changes in one will affect the position of another. By simply loading in new data in the form of spreadsheets, players can simulate new relationships. Open source mods available on the website allow us to test Keynesian economic policies or simulate political systems in developing countries. The latter no doubt informed the development of Democracy 3 Africa.
In time for the ‘two party’ Presidential Election and Britain’s in-out EU Referendum, founder Cliff Harris, released Democracy 3 Electioneering. The expansion edges closer to contemporary thought in political economy. No longer are outcomes completely predictable or voters considered fully rational. Electioneering brings “emotional irrationality to your electorate!”. Now the soundbites, slogans and public image of candidates – so ubiquitous in real life – are integrated into the game. Mislead the public with false promises and time speeches to cover up bad news. Power can be won with an expensive campaign, not well thought out policies.
Democracy 3 and its growing ecosystem is an incredible tool for people wanting to learn more about the factors underpinning a detailed political system. It’s a fascinating way of learning how civilisation in the free world is actively maintained. The game is understandably appealing to the politically-engaged, but could be intimidating for the casual players or political novices.
A more friendly political game on the surface is Political Animals by Squeaky Wheel. But don’t let the colourful and cartoon graphics fool you – the game is ‘dog-eat-dog’ and the aim is to be elected leader and take over one of several island maps. The Filipino developers highlight the corruption in developing nations and rightly or wrongly characterise politicians as either domesticated animals or wild beasts. It’s fun and satirical without the hard-hitting message of Animal Farm.
Games are brilliant at helping us empathise. They allow us to fully-immerse ourselves in other worlds and explore without risk. Sometimes you can even hit ‘undo’. When playing Democracy 3, you have time to analyse all the information presented and are playing more than a single politician, you are indeed playing god. You can see everything and know everything. Despite some suspicion of a surveillance state, in reality politicians can’t stop time and weigh up all the information to fully calculate their strategies. Like us, they are swayed by campaigns, lobbyists and incomplete information. Like us they too have to sometimes make best guesses and live with the consequences.
Today we must vote on whether we should leave or remain the European Union. Pollsters using similar technology to Democracy 3 have been desperately trying to predict the outcome but our irrational and emotional choices are inevitably too hard to compute. Whatever the result, there will be winners and losers but it’s better we live in a complex democracy than under a simplistic dictatorship.