MCV’s 30 Under 30 2017

MCV’s ultimate list of the 30 most brilliant young people working in the UK games industry right now

For this year's 30 Under 30 (sponsored by OPM Jobs) we were inundated with entries. It's fantastic that there are so many brilliant young people working in the UK games industry, though that did make choosing the final list of 30 very tough, and so this really is the cream of the crop. Thanks for all your entries and, for those who aren't turning 30 soon, there's always next year's list to contest.

We're really pleased with the diverse nature of the list this year. It encompasses business development, community management, creative services, esports, event planning, journalism, marketing, streamer partnerships, publishing, PR, retail strategy, and many more aspects of our increasingly diverse industry. Congratulations to you all and if you're not currently receiving MCV in print, then let us know.


Colm Ahern (29) - Deputy editor, VideoGamer

Colm Ahern has been described to us as “one of the most dedicated, most creative, and hardest working people in the industry, a truly formidable talent of the sort our industry could do with more of.” 

After spending five years making video for God is a Geek in his spare time, he moved from Ireland to take a job as marketing assistant at Bossa Studios in 2015 – by then, God is a Geek had a GMA nomination for best video. 

He joined VideoGamer in October 2016 and was promoted to deputy editor a couple of months ago. 

He continues to produce both video and written work. While other sites often have different staff scripting, filming, performing and editing, Ahern does all of that himself for his videos.

Cloe Ashtari (25) - Content and creative manager, Multiplay

Since joining Multiplay in 2015, Cloe Ashtari has risen from graphic designer to content and creative manager. She ran all of the content and creative pieces for Insomnia61 and Brick Live events across the summer and delivered some amazing features across the shows and in the build up and post event media. She’s also been bringing her vision to globally relevant events such as Runefest and Minecon. 

Her work has been instrumental in the growth and development of the UK's biggest gaming festival – Insomnia – as it expanded beyond the RICOH to fill the halls of the Birmingham NEC. Ashtari is "consistently coming up with great ideas and bringing them to life," MCV has been told.

Chris Bratt (27) - Video producer, Eurogamer

Chris Bratt has joined Eurogamer's video team after a stint at VideoGamer. Permanently working, he's been described as "a delight to be with in both personal and professional settings" and "one of the best video guys in the industry." 

   He's behind Eurogamer's 'Here's A Thing' video series and is always pushing for how games, the companies that make them, and the scenarios they're made in should be better. He's also been described as "never afraid to go after a story despite pressures in the opposite direction."

Zoe Brown (28) - Senior producer, Sony Interactive Entertainment Europe

Zoe Brown started off her career in games two and a half years ago, as a development producer for Guitar Hero Live at FreeStyleGames, working extensively with the gameplay, networking and user interface teams. 

From there, she took the leap into publishing, quickly taking on the role of the Square Enix producer for Life is Strange: Before the Storm. In her role at Square Enix, she worked hard to ensure the game was creatively ambitious, of high quality, adhered to fan expectations of the franchise, and delivered on time. 

As of November, Brown has made the move to Sony as a senior producer on an unannounced project.

 

Dave Burroughs (29) - Junior PR manager, Ubisoft

As junior PR manager, Dave Burroughs has worked tirelessly behind the scenes on titles such as Mario & Rabbids, Ghost Recon Wildlands, the Assassin's Creed franchise, Just Dance, Trackmania Turbo and many more. He came into his own in mid-2015 after Ubisoft UK lost two of its senior PR managers, a difficult transition for any department, during which he stepped up to absorb many more front-line duties, providing no break in continuity during a loaded release period.  

Among the (many) praises MCV received about Burroughs, he's been described as "a mainstay at Ubisoft UK", "hardworking", "enthusiastic", "passionate", "always honest about what is and isn't realistic from a PR perspective" and simply "among the best to work with."

Grace Carroll (26) - Social media manager, Creative Assembly

Grace Carroll started her career in games at Jagex in 2014. She joined Creative Assembly in 2015 as social media manager. She worked tirelessly to promote Total War: Warhammer and then Total War: Warhammer II, managing the social media campaigns over several platforms in the run up to release, post-release and throughout the release of DLCs. 

She develops social media campaigns and strategies to optimise the promotion of the titles based on her interactions with the community and constantly feeds what she is learning back into the process to develop new ideas. Since she joined, the number of followers on the Total War Twitter account has more than doubled to over 89k. 

Awais Dar (23) - Trade analyst, Green Man Gaming

Described as the ‘Trading Data Wizard’ at Green Man Gaming, Awais Dar has played an integral role in the company’s growth, providing key trade and commercial insights that have helped the trading team meet their targets and increase revenue.

At just 23 years old, his complex business reports and forecasting models have supported many of the critical business decisions made by the management team, including stock management and company strategy. Before joining the business intelligence team, he built up his knowledge of the business and the industry by working in the content and customer support departments. 

Lewis Denby (28) - Director, Game If You Are

Starting as a journalist for Eurogamer, PC Gamer and PC Zone from the age of 18, Lewis Denby then joined BeefJack part-time as the editor of its online magazine at 21, and co-created successful indie game Richard & Alice on the side. He then went on to lead BeefJack's PR and marketing division. By 2016 he'd been promoted to head of operations and was in charge of building and developing company processes as well as contributing to new business development and company strategy.

He set up his own PR consultancy in October last year, Game If You Are, which specialises in publicising indie games and creative studios that otherwise wouldn't be able to afford high-end PR services.

Pontus Eskilsson (26) - Senior partnership manager EMEA, Twitch

Pontus Eskilsson entered the games industry at just 15, starting an esports website that became the third-largest in Sweden. This led him to Fragbite where he became the site’s director and grew it to become the largest esports news site in Sweden. He then created the premier tournament circuit for CS:GO, Dota, and StarCraft, Fragbite Masters, the pioneer of online tournament production as we know it today.

A milestone for Fragbite Masters was reached when Eskilsson sold brand activations to non-endemic companies, including McDonald’s and PokerStars. After Fragbite, he moved to Twitch in 2015 as the Nordic partnerships lead and was promoted to partnerships account manager for EMEA in less than six months. 

 

Ben Finch (30) - Marketing manager, nDreams

Ben Finch squeezes into this year's 30 Under 30 despite his age, as his birthday landed in between the end of nominations and us going to print. Finch's first role in the industry was at Sega, working his way up from marketing assistant to senior brand manager on the Sonic the Hedgehog brand. His highlight was the huge success Sonic and All-Stars Racing Transformed, creating everything from the global packaging through to TV ads for over 20 countries. He also delivered Sonic to iOS audiences with the 250m+ downloaded Sonic Dash.

He joined nDreams in 2014, heading up its brand marketing team. He helped rebrand the company, and headed up all marketing activity on The Assembly, Perfect, Danger Goat and the upcoming Shooty Fruity. 

Amy-Marie Graves (27) - Community manager, Square Enix Collective

Before joining Square Enix in June 2017, Amy-Marie Graves has had stints in both the video game and film industries. 

She started her career at Universal Pictures in 2014, before joining the games industry as PR and community management trainee at Curve Digital in summer 2015.

At Square Enix, she primarily focuses on internal indie label Square Enix Collective, where she helps promoting and publishing the titles, as well as looking after the firm's social channels and community.

"Amy's confidence, experience, determination and motivation has grown as much as her passion for the games industry in just a few years," MCV has been told. 

Alexandre Grimonpont (27) - Senior publishing producer, Hi-Rez Studios Europe

Having started his career as a pro player at 14, Alexandre Grimonpont started to focus on content creation in 2013 and casted games on his spare time. He was noticed by Blizzard and was involved in the Starcraft 2 World Championship Series global final casting. He continued on this path for a little while and then started working on creating content in French for Blizzard's main events.

He joined Hi-Rez in 2016, managing the community team as well as PR, events, esports and influencer marketing across EMEA. He attented multiple European events in 2017, strengthening Hi-Rez's social media reach in several European languages and greatly increased interaction with players.

Josh Heaton (27) - Design manager and head of Gamer Creative, Gamer Network

Josh Heaton has been with Gamer Network since 2010, when he joined Eurogamer as a junior designer. Since then, he's continued to work on design for Gamer Network's portfolio of sites (Eurogamer, VG247, Rock Paper Shotgun and more). 

Additionally, he formed and heads up Gamer Creative, Gamer Network's in-house creative agency, which has helped thousands of developers and publishers (from indie to triple-A) with creative and design work for their marketing, earning accolades from around the industry. There are very few video game publishers out there who haven't worked with Heaton on design to help market their games at some point.

He's been described as "working incredibly hard behind the scenes."

Sofie Marien (25) - Social media and community manager, Good Catch Games

Sofie Marien looks beyond her role to the wider industry and has helped make it a more inclusive place for all players. 

She founded the PlayStation LGBT group and helped bring PlayStation to London Pride in 2017. At PlayStation, she was the Dutch community manager, promoting all first party and some third-party titles. She led the promotion of Horizon Zero Dawn, helping promote its diverse world to make its own space in the open world market, leading to this new IP’s success. 

Marien has just started at new publisher and developer Good Catch Games, lending her skill and experience from working at PlayStation for two and-a-half years.

 

 

Jessie Meola (28) - Senior marketing manager, Frontier Developments

Jessie Meola started her gaming career at Frontier Developments four years ago and has been with the publisher-developer from the very beginning of Frontier’s journey into self-publishing, starting out as marketing assistant and rapidly progressing through the ranks to oversee all Frontier’s marketing activities. 

Today, Meola manages a team overseeing product marketing, digital advertising and brand partnerships as the studio’s sole senior marketing manager, working on Elite Dangerous and Planet Coaster, and working closely with Universal Pictures on Frontier’s newest game, Jurassic World Evolution.

Nathan Mills (23) - Senior PR executive, Koei Tecmo Europe

Having started his career at Koei Tecmo just under two years ago, Nathan Mills has already reached the level of a senior member of staff. Before joining the publisher's UK office,  he had short stints at PR firms Wildfire PR and Stature PR, and has been running a YouTube channel for eight years.

As senior PR and marketing executive at Koei Tecmo, he's currently working on the marketing campaigns for titles such as Blue Reflection, Dynasty Warriors 9, Nights of Azure 2: Bride of the New Moon and Warriors All-Stars.

Described as "a vital member of the Koei Tecmo team" at only 23, Mills "has shown great growth, wisdom, insight and maturity in a role that requires a high degree of sensibility, levelheadedness and tenacity."

 

 

Hollie Pattison (25) - Community manager, Ripstone

Considered to be "a rising star in the industry," Hollie Pattison is "more than a community manager." As part of a small team, she gets involved in everything from media and influencer relations to writing store copy and aiding PR strategy. As well as the usual community management tasks of handling social media strategy and implementation, plus dealing with customer queries, she has grown Ripstone's Twitch channel from barely non-existent to a now Partnered channel with regular front-page featured streams.

She is also a SpecialEffect charity ambassador, helping to raise awareness as well as funds for the charity.

Daniela Pietrosanu (27) - Senior publicist, Premier PR

Having spent two years plying her trade at board game specialists Esdevium, Daniela Pietrosanu made the leap to Premier PR in October 2014 and quickly established herself as one of the sector’s finest. Having worked on numerous titles from smaller independent gems to triple-A leviathans, no project is too big for her hands. Most recently, she has become the current UK lead for Square Enix agency-side and helped deliver outstanding coverage for titles such as Hitman, Rise of the Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy XV. 

If that wasn’t enough, she is also part of the 'Them Video Dames' Twitch channel with former 30 Under 30 entrant, Lucy Pullinger.

Adam Raisborough (29) - Retail planning manager, Warner Bros

Adam Raisborough started his career in January 2013 as an insight analyst with Warner Bros, working across film, games, TV and family entertainment. He was promoted to senior insight analyst in 2015, quickly followed by a promotion to retail planning manager in 2016. Raisborough has worked on the successful launches and catalogue strategies of Dying Light, Batman: Arkham Knight, Mortal Kombat X and XL and Injustice 2, along with several Lego titles.

He also, from an analytical perspective, led on the launch of Shadow Of War. More recently, Raisborough has also been leading the effort within the UK to better harness and harmonise the process of digital games and mobile games data collection.

 

Megan Rice (24) - Business development executive, Ukie

At only 24, Megan Rice has already worked for the likes of Bossa Studios as marketing assistant, Curve Digital as studio manager and marketing assistant, and Playhubs as community manager. 

Joining Ukie in August last year, Rice has quickly risen to be at the forefront of expanding the work of the trade body, leading on key Ukie projects including the industry defining student membership and training courses. 

As the lead on the Ukie student programme, she's been giving talks and organising conferences and activities to help bring the industry and the academia closer together. 

Maria Laura Scuri (28) - Executive operations manager, FaceIt

Maria Laura Scuri started with FaceIt's core team in 2014 as an intern assisting with everything from customer support through to event management. She soon became executive assistant to the CEO and worked her way up to her current position. Together with the CGO, she now works alongside major game publishers assisting during the integration phase by coordinating several teams, making sure integrations standards are met before the game goes live and providing a launch strategy including social media and PR.

She follows a team of people that ensures all competitions on the platform, from the big qualifiers to ongoing tournaments, run smoothly and the best mix of competitions is offered. 

 

Adam Simmons (26) - VP content and marketing, Level Up Media

Prior to joining DingIt.TV, Adam Simmons combined competitive gaming and esports casting with his career as a Team GB Paralympian, competing in sprint kayaking.

In just under four years since joining a pre-launch DingIt he has overseen the platform's launch, growth and shift from live streaming to premium highlights content. The site has subsequently exploded in popularity to more than 40m unique monthly visitors. In February 2017 he was central to the creation of Level Up Media, with DingIt as the company's flagship site. This autumn Simmons led Level Up Media's launch of TheGamer.TV platform for mainstream gaming fans.

Simmons was also featured in a Channel 4 series on pro gamers.

Jen Simpkins (24) - Deputy editor, Edge

Jen Simpkins joined the industry at the end of 2015 as staff writer on Official PlayStation Magazine. The self-described ‘princess of print’ worked at the publication when it did the impossible: increasing its print circulation by nearly ten per cent. 

Simpkins was promoted to games editor in September 2016, before she left Official PlayStation Magazine in June 2017 to become deputy editor of Edge, less than two years into her career. 

Among the numerous praises MCV received about Simpkins, she has for instance been described as a "lovely, hardworking and strong woman who has done something unfounded by becoming the deputy editor of such a prolific magazine at such a young age and has a loyalty to print which is rare to see in this industry."

Lai-Ling Soo (27) - Marketing executive, Xbox UK

As marketing executive, Lai-Ling Soo is responsible for managing the Xbox presence at consumer gaming events in the UK. In the last year, these have included small events but also the biggest shows in the country such as EGX (80,000 attendees), EGX Rezzed (17,000 attendees) and Insomnia (50,000 attendees). 

Soo is also in charge of executing the firm's marketing campaigns, as well as managing Xbox UK's social channels which, combined, reach over 2.7m people. 

She's been described as "highly diligent, efficient and attentive to detail and always gets the job done on time, on budget and with a massive smile on her face."

 

Luke 'LTZonda' Taylor (23) - Content creator, founder of Streamers Connected

Luke 'LTZonda' Taylor is one of the most prolific content creators in the UK with a following of nearly 650k combined. 

This year, he set up Streamers Connected, a community for streamers and content creators gathering over 5,000 members. It's the UK's biggest Discord community and it offers content creators of all sizes the chance to learn, collaborate, network and share. 

Through his professionalism he has earned sponsorship with some of the biggest brands in the UK including Nvidia, Green Man Gaming and Corsair and he recently became the official UK brand ambassador for XSplit and Player.me.

Robin Valentine (29) - Editor, GamesMaster

Robin Valentine became editor of GamesMaster earlier this year, becoming one of the youngest editor of any of the UK games magazines. 

At this role, Valentine has been maintaining and strengthening GamesMaster's "passionate, slightly anarchic, unashamedly geeky spirit of the cult titles of the past," his colleagues told MCV. They continued: "His carefully-assembled team of writers delivers 100 pages packed with the joy of games, and some of the most excruciating jokes and puns you'll ever read, month after month. And he runs RPGs so is, quite literally, a gamesmaster."

Haley Uyrus (29) - PR and marketing manager, Failbetter Games

After a career in graphic design at Hasbro and Staples, plus three degrees (BFA Communications Design, MA Game Design & Theory, and MBA Creative Industries Management), Haley Uyrus started working in the games industry in 2014 at PR firm BeefJack, where she worked on over 25 indie games. In six months, she increased the company's income through its business development initiative by 167 per cent. She joined Failbetter Games in May 2016, originally looking after browser title Fallen London, before moving on to look after and strategise for RPG Sunless Sea (500k units sold) and upcoming Kickstarted game Sunless Skies. 

She's been labelled as "the woman with eight million degrees," her peers told MCV, as well as "resilient", "reliable" and with a "broad skillset."

Casey Vatcher (24) - Product manager, Nintendo UK

Casey Vatcher first started at Nintendo UK as a marketing intern in 2013. After completing his degree, he returned to Nintendo UK as an assistant product manager. Once in the role, Vatcher helmed campaigns for some of Nintendo UK’s biggest releases – the largest being the multi-award winning launch of Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon in 2016. Using this as a platform, he was then promoted to product manager in 2017 and now looks after the full Nintendo 3DS hardware and software family for the UK. 

"His growth and rise through the business has all come as a result of his willingness to learn, hard work and dedication to doing his best," MCV's been told.

Anita Wong (26) - Account manager, Indigo Pearl

In just under four years, Anita Wong has become one of the most recognisable faces in the UK video games industry, helping Indigo Pearl win three consecutive MCV PR Agency Awards. Never one to shy away from an event – or organise one herself – Wong has consistently been a frontline representative for Indigo Pearl, managing PR campaigns for the some of its biggest clients, including Activision Blizzard, Pokémon GO, Trion Worlds, Good Shepherd, and most recently Andy Serkis’ new studio The Imaginarium.

She's been described as "a tireless workhorse and dance floor diva," with her co-workers adding: "Anita’s presence is most notable when she’s not around – we simply wouldn’t be the same without her."

Rik Wortman (28) - Live events manager RuneScape, Jagex

The first words MCV received about Rik Wortman when the nomination period for 30 Under 30 began was that he's a unicorn, but not "an actual sparkly, rainbow emitting-unicorn" (which left us a bit disappointed really) but "a multi-talented tour-de-force marketing expert with a unique blend of skills."

At Jagex, Wortman works with RuneScape's live events team on monetisation, virtual item sales, time-limited events and competitive gaming, all designed with game KPIs first and foremost. This has led Jagex to record breaking performance for three consecutive years. 

Wortman has worked his way up from a player support representative to one of the most challenging and specialist roles in the industry.

Honourable mentions

Laura Durrant - Jagex  /   Rob Dwiar - Freelance writer  /  Adam Jenkins - Edelman – Xbox UK  /  Edward Lewis - Frontier Developments  /    

Daniel Pitt - Nintendo UK  / Kiron Ramdewar - PlayStack /  Otisha Sealy - Warner Bros  /  Claire Sharkey - Level Up Media  /   

Paul Stone - PressXtra.net – Indigo Pearl  / Victoria Wallace - Warner Bros  /   Alison Woods - Frontier Developments  /   

 

MCV's 30 Under 30 is sponsored by OPM Jobs