The GamesLab Leeds project was aimed at assisting the games industry in the Leeds City Region through mentoring, workshops and grants, as well as supporting organisations and individuals interested in utilising game technology or theories within their projects.
The three-year project took place in locations across the Leeds City Region, including York, Bradford, Leeds and Huddersfield. We particularly enjoyed exploring the creative industries in Yorkshire, with the area currently being a hot hub for creativity; Channel 4 and the BFI are opening new offices in Leeds and an “Audiences of the Future” project, centred around immersive technology for eSports is being run by a consortium, including York University.
We ran numerous supportive and engaging workshops across the region, covering a multitude of key topics including pitching, marketing, finance, emerging technology, game design, platform holders and board games. We also ran a course of one-to-one mentoring with Shahid Ahmad aimed at giving bespoke assistance to studios, as well as taking delegations to EGX, Rezzed and GDC in San Francisco
As well as hosting mentoring sessions and workshops, we gave out £300,000 in grants to companies across the Leeds City Region. This included game studios developing prototypes for further funding and studios finishing off a game to take to market. We also supported other creative organisations through Research and Development money, such as theatres or artists looking to collaborate with game studios.
Some of the projects supported through GamesLab Leeds are finished, whilst others are still being developed. Over the next few months, we will be talking to beneficiaries in more depth about their projects but for now, we’ve put together a list of the supported studios:
Alternative Software is a long established, leading independent publisher, developer and distributor of games, for console, computer and mobile devices. They have gone from producing & publishing all time classics like “Skool Daze” on the ZX Spectrum and Hogs of War, to the bestselling rugby management series, Rugby League and Rugby Union Team Manager.
Based in York, BetaJester develops immersive and interactive digital experiences across games, marketing, advertising and research. They also work with Hull University and lead on Humber Bundle, a network of studios based in Yorkshire.
Cataphract Games specialise in the modelling of historical assets and armour from across the world.
Cooperative Innovations specialise in VR games and experiences, working with partners across the country and advising on a range of immersive tech projects. Recently receiving further investment for their Ikabod engine, Cooperative Innovations are well positioned to help boost XR tech in the North.
Cupboard Games are a small game studio working on Umwelt, a game where you fiddle about with your brain to change the way you see the world.
D M Media is an indie studio developing an unannounced game, as well as gaming tools – more to be announced soon.
Fierce Kaiju is an indie game developer based around Leeds, UK. In the past, they have been involved in making some of the best known and loved games on the planet, with a proven track record of innovating on new hardware. In the present day, they’re now focusing all that knowledge and skill towards gameplay and tech you haven’t seen before.
An immersive theatre company based in Bradford, Freedom Studios received funding to collaborate with a VR studio around a new project based around heritage and technology. More information will be announced later in the year.
Developing a run of games, GasLight Games are a prolific studio that are developing a new IP as well as helping the industry via talks and releasing plugins for the Unreal Engine. They will be taking their game prototype to this years Develop:Brighton conference in July, as well as the upcoming GI.biz Investment Summit in September.
A small but perfectly formed studio, Gentlemen of Science released their game Advance Soccer last year and are still refining their game – available on the iOS and Google Play stores.
GDPA are a community interest company operating in Huddersfield to engage with communities there. They received grant money to develop an immersive film about knife crime, co-designed by young people in the area.
It was good to see a diverse range of applications for funding – Grizzly Games are board game developers based in Leeds that developed their new game, ‘Home on Lagrange’. The grant money went towards a digital strand of their game to help with accessibility and immersion.
We funded one of the designers at Hoppla to work with disabled artists in Leeds utilising VR technology, running workshops and working in partnership with a local university to further develop this strand of work.
Isokron are based in Leeds and continuing to develop 90 Minute Fever, a football management MMO.
Developing their game, This Dead Winter, starring a fox in the snow. This adventure/puzzle game was part of our cohort to Rezzed last year and is continuing to be developed in Huddersfield.
Laser Dog Games received funding to develop their game Ava Airborne, which is available on iOS and Android devices, published by Playstack.
Manic Chord Theatre received assistance with their digital offer for their recent play This Is Yesterday, exploring connection between music and dementia.
Megabot are based in York, UK and the creators of Backspace the video game: a nostalgic, Tron-inspired mystery, trapped inside a twin-stick action-adventure game, which we were thrilled to support through the programme.
Usually a vibrantly dressed brass band, Mr Wilson’s Second Liners were given assistance to work on their game Ultimate Agent. Players are recruited with the mission to become Ultimate Agent. Armed with a water pistol and minimum target details, their everyday routine is punctured by the game, whether it is imagination or running from a fellow player and is guaranteed to be memorable.
New Moon Studios create innovative immersive technology experiences for the world’s most forward-thinking brands. They are in the process of developing a new VR game, set to be released soon.
Ocean Spark Studios is a Video Game Development studio based in Huddersfield, Yorkshire. The team consists of passionate game developers, fluidly combining their bespoke talents to create unique titles whilst continuing to provide skilled development services. They are currently developing Tetra: Elemental, a fantasy RPG with a unique scientific twist.
One to One Development Trust’s aim is to inspire, inform and push boundaries in how people engage with heritage, health and well-being and digital storytelling. Based in Wakefield they are continuing to develop new, immersive experiences around wellbeing and narrative.
Phoenix Dance Theatre is the UK’s longest standing contemporary dance company outside of London. They are currently using Research & Development funding for a project centred around windrush migration utilising VR.
With support via the GamesLab Leeds project, Playful Anywhere are conducting research and exploring ways to capture stories of favourite games. This has taken place around Leeds and Sheffield by interviewing the public and working with local organisations to make spaces more playful.
Based in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, Red Kite Games is a video games development studio that consists of a highly experienced team of developers from a wide range of disciplines and backgrounds. They were given some grant money to help develop their upcoming game, Hollowpoint.
Shuttershade Studios are an award-winning game development studio based in Huddersfield. They’re a small team of passionate young developers that are making cool games that will bring joy and happiness to people globally – including their upcoming game Hyper VR Party Ware.
Torchbearer Interactive build online, desktop or mobile games for Web, Flash, Java, iOS or Android platforms. They also work with local universities and organisations around the convergence of how games tech can be utilised in other sectors, such as medicine or architecture.
They are a software and development company dedicated to finding practical solutions via innovative technology. They have worked on a number of immersive projects still being developed, though utilising VR/XR technology in interesting ways.
Based in the Calderdale valley, YMPT is lead by David Hayward who is trying to answer the big questions around contemporary game culture through first-hand research and questioning all the norms. They also run Feral Vector taking place in Hebden Bridge every year.
A special thanks to Game Republic and UKIE for running several events for us, the National Film and Television Museum for exhibiting some of our funded projects at the Yorkshire Games Festival, Huddersfield Girl Geeks for supporting young people in the area, the BGI for running their first regional event with us and all the people attached to the project who helped make it worthwhile.
This project was funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Regional Growth Fund, support programmes aimed at developing areas in the UK. Creative England will be offering further assistance to the games industry via our Creative Enterprise programme and other upcoming programmes to be announced. Keep up to date with this via our Twitter account.