30 under 30 2014: The most exciting rising stars of the UK video games industry

30 under 30 2014: The most exciting rising stars of the UK video games industry

MCV uncovers the brightest young things currently working in games retail, publishing, events, marketing, PR and journalism – the industry’s top 30 under 30. 

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Andy Tomlinson
Policy Officer, UKIE
Age: 29

Since Tomlinson joined UKIE in 2012, he’s been responsible for putting together industry responses to more than 30 consultations and reviews from the Government. These documents are massively important in influencing policy makers. He has had the difficult challenge of cat-herding the opinions of a diverse sector and synthesising its thoughts into compelling consultation responses. His work on the Tax Breaks consultations, proving the need for the scheme, was invaluable in driving it through.

Ben Walke
Community Manager, Codemasters
Age: 29

Walke joined Codemasters in 2012 and has been at the heart of the studio’s community efforts since. He handled GRID Autosport, a title that was born out of community feedback from GRID 2. Walke worked alongside the development team to shape the game, from its initial concept right through to release. He handles a global audience, acting as a face for fans and working alongside retailers and press. In addition to his community work, he presents his findings to the wider business.

Christine Teare
Operations Advisor, Nintendo
Age: 23

Teare has been with Nintendo for just over a year and has become an instrumental part of the UK operations team. Like a few on this list, her experience includes a stint at GAME as a member of one of its store teams, and she’s also worked in Nintendo Customer Support. Her colleagues says she has excelled in many projects at Nintendo and now looks after all the key retail accounts to ensure stock arrives on time. Highly regarded, she boasts ‘exceptional problem-solving skills that have proved invaluable’.

Colette Barr 
Account Manager, Lick PR
Age: 24

Beginning on Official Nintendo Magazine, Barr has already made a significant impact in the world of PR. Having started as an intern, she was soon recruited full-time and her ‘passion for gaming, love of technology and vibrant personality made her a fantastic PR’. One of her clients, Gameloft, lobbied for her en masse due to her ‘great passion, knowledge and dedication’ and the fact that any campaign she works on ‘will be completed to the highest standard with no direction or oversight required’.

Dan Kilby
Commercial Projects and Marketing Manager, IGN
Age: 27

Kilby oversees all integrated and content-based campaigns on the Ziff Davis brands - IGN, Askmen and Ziff Davis Tech. He runs all events, heads up creative commissioning for third parties and looks after design. Over the last year he has progressed from being someone highly capable at a specific set of tasks to someone who can take on a wide variety of responsibilities and execute them brilliantly. The firm says he’s thorough, and deals efficiently and courteously with stakeholders.

David Twells
Sony Category Manager, GAME
Age: 28

Twells manages the Sony category at GAME. He has managed the launch of PS4, achieving market-leading hardware share. He implemented various in-store projects including ‘Get Gaming Quicker’ and the new interactive PlayStation branded section. He has secured a number of exclusives, such as the white Destiny PS4 bundle. He launched the PS Vita code-to-content download offer in the summer, and re-launched the PlayStation Brand Ambassador scheme across GAME store staff.

Grahame Gallacher 
PR Account Manager, ICO Partners
Age: 29

Gallacher joined ICO Partners in 2013 as a PR account executive and within a year was promoted to PR account manager. He has worked on campaigns for a number of big name clients including Hi-Rez Studios, Born Ready Games and League of Legends creator Riot Games. His latest project is the MOBA game Smite; he has been building the game’s profile across Europe and as a potential eSports product. His knowledge of eSports has made him an invaluable asset on a variety of projects.

Jack Jones 
Associate, Sheridans
Age: 29

Numerous people nominated Sheridans’ Jack Jones – including developers Mojang, Soccer Management, Kuyan and I Fight Bears. He has helped these companies protect their brands (including Minecraft) as they look to establish them in the market. He has been described as delivering invaluable commercial and legal advice, with excellent knowledge of video game law and an approachable personality. He has been a huge boost to the independent development scene in particular.

Jennifer Johnson
Junior Buyer for Gaming, Shop Direct
Age: 27

Johnson has been on the Shop Direct games team for five years and has most recently been covering the buying role. Shop Direct has more than doubled its market share over the past two years and Johnson has been a key player in making that happen. She has built a gaming zone across all Shop Direct’s sites and is also responsible for the VeryGaming Twitter account. She’s been described as a ‘true ambassador for Shop Direct and the games industry’.

 

Katherine Parrott
Buying Assistant, Video Games, Home Retail Group
Age: 22

Parrott joined Home Retail Group last year and has already established herself as a rising star at the retailer. Parrott handles all games accessories for Argos and also looks after some major publishers, namely EA, Ubisoft and Take-Two. That means she handled the launches of FIFA 15 and GTA V on PS4 and Xbox One, as well as Watch Dogs. She’s also made a large contribution to Argos’ new dedicated gaming flyers, of which the High Street chain has now done three.

Katy Ellis
Account Executive, Amplify
Age: 21

Ellis began her games industry career working for GAME before entering the world of media, writing reviews for a Nintendo website. Her career really kickstarted when she became social media marketing assistant for Rising Star Games. She then started writing for Nintendo Life before becoming assistant editor for Push Square. She’s currently working as account executive at Amplify. She’s so dedicated to games, she even offered to work on Bandai Namco’s stand at MCM Comic Con for free.

Kim Richards 
Presenter, Entertainer and YouTube Personality, Yogscast
Age: 29

Richards’ numbers speak for themselves. Over the last 18 months, her YouTube channel has gone from 0 to 644,591 subscribers, racking up an astonishing 59,515,808 views. Described as being hugely talented, people that have worked with Richards say that she puts in the hours and is unafraid of some hard graft. A role model to her fans and a positive influence in the industry, she’s cultivated a community of enthusiastic young gamers that shows what a great ambassador she is for the games market.

Kirk McKeand
Freelance Journalist
Age: 28

Over the last two years, McKeand has taught himself how to write well and then has gone and been featured on some of the most prolific online gaming publications in the world – including IGN, Telegraph, Edge, Eurogamer, T3 and Videogamer. To begin with, he applied to a few fan sites, offering his writing services and eventually getting a job for no pay. Two years later, he won the Games Media Award for games journalist Rising Star.

Lucy James 
Video Producer, GameSpot
Age: 23

Lucy James is now a full-blown games media celebrity. Starting out as an intern at GameSpot three years ago, she went on to become a familiar face in the media, freelancing and appearing on Sky News, The Guardian, VideoGamer, GameReactor and the BBC. She was then appointed writer and presenter at games TV production company Ginx TV. She returned to GameSpot this year. One person that put her forward said: “I’m surprised she hasn’t won this award every year.”

Mary Antieul 
Strategy Planning Manager, GAME
Age: 28

Antieul is a key example of someone who has developed through the GAME business. A former store manager and executive assistant to the CEO, she has worked closely with members of the senior team to deliver key business objectives and initiatives. Antieul has recently taken on the role of strategy planning manager, working on a number of projects for GAME including the continued management of the GAME App and the launch of the new feature ‘Scan It’.

Michelle Turner
PR and Marketing Manager, Ripstone
Age: 29

At Ripstone, Turner is in charge of all internal communications, developer relations, handling agencies, PR and marketing planning, execution, event management and media liaison (so basically co-ordinates everything the company does in releasing a game). She began her career at Disney Interactive, working on major brands like High School Musical. At Ripstone, she has been partly responsible for the success of games like Stick It To The Man, Pure Pool, Pure Chess and Flyhunter Origins.

Mohan Gehlot 
Xbox Live Games Producer, Microsoft
Age: 28

Gehlot produces the Xbox Live dashboard for Europe. He joined Microsoft seven years ago, initially as a digital marketing manager where he implemented the first Microsoft homepage in Silverlight outside of the US. He then worked as an online project manager for the Microsoft’s UK hardware site and Microsoft’s education website. From there he moved over to Xbox Live, where he has held several roles, including managing a team of four to implement video and music content across 17 EMEA countries.

Nadine Oehmcke 
Retail Manager, Dovetail Games
Age: 25

Oehmcke has achieved an impressive amount in two years, having risen from sales operations executive to retail manager, leading the team and spearheading the company’s third-party partnerships, which have grown by 300 per cent in her time. Oehmcke has taken on the additional responsibility of setting up and managing the company’s localisation strategy on a SKU plan of 40 products annually. Dovetail’s staff say the 25 year-old’s fearless ability to take on a seemingly endless list of tasks is ‘astounding’.

Neil McClarty
Marketing Director on RuneScape, Jagex
Age: 29

McClarty is a real Jagex success story, having worked his way up the chain for the past seven years. During that time, he has handled everything from billing support and digital and email marketing, right through to his current role as marketing director for the company’s flagship game, RuneScape. Described as a strong team player who is enthusiastic and focused, he leads all marketing strategies and campaigns for the MMO as it enters its 14th year in existence.

Paul Webb
Microsoft Retail Advisor, McCurrach Technology
Age: 27

Webb has worked as a retail expert for Microsoft for over five years, and represents the business across the North West of England. He speaks to specialists and supermarkets, offering training and designing e-learning courses amongst other responsibilities. He helped launch Xbox One and picked up a few awards in his time, including Xbox Team Player Award in 2012 and Xbox Microsoft Retail Advisor of the Year 2013. One PC World store described him as ‘the best of our many company reps’.

Rosie Ghezelbash
Trade Marketing Executive, PlayStation
Age: 25

A rising star in the PlayStation UK office, Ghezelbash has established brilliant relations with major retailers since she took the role of trade marketing executive. A specialist in trade digital marketing and communications, Ghezelbash is responsible for Sony’s online presence at retail as well as PlayStation Plus activity. The subscription service in particular proved pivotal during the company’s record-breaking PS4 launch, and the significance of PlayStation’s digital business has grown significantly over the last 12 months.

Sandy Man
Events Manager, PlayStation
Age: 26

Man single-handedly manages events for PlayStation UK, which covers all the game releases, hardware launches, consumer shows, parties, the PlayStation School’s Cup and third-party support. Her most famous work over the last 12 months was the PS4 Lounge Pop-up area in Covent Garden, which held events every night for a fortnight. She also impressed during the EGX event. Her colleagues say she ‘delivers our brands on a huge scale but never forgets the fine details’.

Sean Labode
Product Manager, Sold Out
Age: 26

Former games media expert and video presenter Labode joined Sold Out this year as a product manager, having worked for the business as a freelance consultant. The boxed games publisher says that within his first months at the firm, he’s worked at ‘a professional level whilst absorbing all new skills in his first full time industry job.’ He has operated and run his own popular YouTube channel and is described as tenacious, enthusiastic and fast.

Shannon Taylor
Online Marketing Manager, GAME
Age: 26

Taylor started her career at GAME working as a store assistant. After several temporary roles at head office, she joined the online marketing team as marketing assistant and over the subsequent three and a half years has progressed to online marketing manager. Described as dedicated, dependable, passionate and knowledgeable, her marketing campaigns aimed at the gaming community have been hugely successful. She was voted ‘Team Member of the Year’ this year.

Steph Parr 
Buying Executive, Green Man Gaming
Age: 22 

Joining the Green Man Gaming team just over a year ago, Parr has quickly become a valuable member of one of the busiest trading teams in the business. She was promoted from admin assistant to buying executive after just four months due to her love and knowledge of games, and cheery pro-active approach. Her relationships with publishers and developers, combined with her ability to drive a diverse range of promotions have made a significant difference to sales, the retailer says.

Stuart Saw
Regional Director, EMEA, Twitch
Age: 28

Twitch’s EMEA boss started his career as on-air talent for Sky in the UK before going on to work with Eurosport and DirecTV, among others. He owned two businesses, community website Crossfire and a gaming production company called QuadV. In 2009, Saw was recruited as Director of Operations for a streaming technology start-up in London. In 2012 he joined Twitch, where he has become instrumental in the growth of the live streaming firm within EMEA. 

Stuart Williams 
Commercial Financial Analyst, Nintendo
Age: 26

Williams has made a big impact at Nintendo UK since he joined in March 2013. He was nominated by colleagues as the rising star of the business that year, consistently delivering the weekly company presention of sales numbers, as well as managing the demand forecast and product allocation process across all accounts. His achievements are the more impressive as he’s studying towards his CIMA professional finance qualification and is just about to sit his final exam.

Thomas Brookes 
DirectSoft Admin, CentreSoft
Age: 24

A graduate from De Montfort University, Brookes held brief roles working for InterContinental Hotels and Busy Bees before entering the games market at CentreSoft. Brookes works within DirectSoft – the firm’s direct-to-consumer offering for various etailers. He particularly works for the Shop Direct account. The firm says that Brookes’ commercial lead has made a great impact in his two years at the business. He has a phenomenal work ethic and attention to detail.

Tom Senior
PC Gamer Web Editor, Future
Age: 29

Under Senior’s watch, PC Gamer page views have double since the site’s redesign. He’s played a crucial part in upgrading hardware coverage to offer more reviews, features, and guides for PC gaming enthusiasts. PC Gamer’s reach has also expanded to 2.8m followers on Facebook and 0.5m on Twitter. He quietly produces top class previews, features and in-depth reviews. If that’s not impressive enough, he still finds time to write cover features for PC Gamer.

Tom Worthington 
PR Manager, Chillingo
Age: 26

Worthington leads Chillingo’s product PR efforts and has worked on more than 150 mobile games since joining in 2012. Colleagues describe him as an ambitious, fastidious and resourceful professional. He provides guidance and PR solutions to some of the world’s most talented indie mobile developers, who praise him for delivering campaigns that integrate PR, social media and community management to drive discoverability and engagement.

 

Honourable Mentions: Matt Wallace-Merrett – Bandai Namco, Kate Gray – Future, Samuel Roberts – Future, Dan Wheeler – Future, Aoife Wilson - Freelance Journalist, Oliver Lawrence – OJS, Daniel Thurgood – Click Entertainment, Jem Alexander – Six To Start, Richard Bearpark – IGN, Simon Haley – Capcom, Rob Pearson – PlayStation Access, Joe Bell – GAME, Daniel Fowler – GAME, Abigail Papuga – GAME, Christie Wilson – GAME, Amy Ellison – Xbox, Oliver Hindle – Bossa Studios, Jenny Brammall – UKIE, Emily Wooliscroft – Nintendo, Sarah Moffatt – Sony, Joe Skrebels – Freelance Journalist, Chris Brooks – Jagex, Andy Esser – Jagex, Shaun Akerman – Jagex, Sam White – Green Man Gaming, Jordan Lawrence – Green Man Gaming, Nick Marshall – Mastertronic, Eamonn Vann-Harris – Avatar, Edwin Chuah - Bandai Namco Games

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