30 Under 30

Ben Parfitt
30 Under 30

They are the brightest minds in games retail, publishing, marketing, PR and journalism. But who are they?

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Phillip Davies
Age: 21
Founder, King Andre Entertainment

Retailer Davies was so young when he started out at 16 that he couldn’t be guarantor on supplier contracts, and had to draft his dad in as a silent partner at the indie business. King Andre doesn’t stock new releases, instead the average purchase is £10, but Davies’ store is a winner: he turned over almost £1m last year, making £100k profit. He tells us his success comes from focusing on profit not turnover and insists loss leader tactics are futile.

Rachel Dearsley
Age: 28
Assistant Category Manager, GAME

Dearsley joined GAME in 2006 as a buying assistant for the PC and accessories range. She was quickly promoted to the role of assistant product manager for Sony products with responsiblity managing the PSP category for both hardware and software. She recently changed role to assistant category manager on all Sony products, most recently managing GAME’s Move launch.

Laura Skelly
Age: 24
PR Executive, Strategy, Capcom

Before her time at Capcom Skelly shone as an intern at THQ, eventually even being given her own title to manage. She has settled in quickly at Capcom and is described as highly organised, professional and a strong communicator. She now looks after key brands including DMC, Dead Rising 2, MotoGP and Monster Hunter Freedom.

Rachael Grant
Age: 25
Brand Manager, Ubisoft

Grant has been with Ubisoft since March ‘09, joining from Eidos. She started out working on Imagine and Petz titles, but her breakthrough has been with Just Dance. Peers both inside and outside of Ubi say she was intrinsic to the title’s blockbuster success, championing the game, getting it on retail agendas and arranging a targeted marketing campaign.

Tom Hodge
Age: 23
Business Development Manager, Venom
At peripherals firm Venom, Hodge’s role includes a host of responsibilities. These include supporting the sales department by managing major accounts, coordinating logistics and helping to enable the smooth running of the firm’s busy warehouse, deciding marketing and communication with licensors while also working on packaging and artwork to guarantee continuity across the Venom range.

Lauren Dillon
Age: 23
Publicist, Premier PR
While Dillon has only been in the games industry for just over a year her colleagues say she has proven herself as an invaluable asset to the team at Premier PR, working across all accounts including Warner Bros, Nordic Games, Rising Star, Capcom and the BBC. She’s quickly proven popular with many of the games press and established a firm list of key contacts.

Nathan Ditum
Age: 29
Associate Editor, FirstPlay

Ditum is responsible for planning and commissioning or writing all editorial content in Future’s on-console show FirstPlay. It’s his job to guide the tone and style of the company’s crucial first step into a new media. Before moving to FirstPlay Nathan was reviews editor on Official PlayStation Magazine, organising world exclusives on the likes of GTA IV, LittleBigPlanet and God of War III.

Stephen Hutchins
Age: 26
Senior Data Analyst, NCsoft

Hutchin’s role means he provides invaluable insight into NCsoft’s global player base and media campaigns, outlining areas for growth and ROI. Within his first three years at the firm he won NCsoft’s internal Global Star award. For the last two years, he has taken the role of Gamescom staff manager managing the firm’s prominent show presence.

Laura Maxwell
Age: 29
National Account Manager, Centresoft

Maxwell (née Pearce) joined Centresoft eight years ago, initially as a telesales account manager for Vivendi. In time she was promoted to the position of product manager, initially also for Vivendi but later Eidos as well. Peers say her “continued achievements led to her being promoted” in 2009 to her national accounts role, where she has continued to play a valuable role dealing with major multi-national accounts and a plethora of publishers.

Alastair Islip
Age: 26
Games Buyer, Asda

Islip has been part of the Asda games team since the closure of EUK in 2008. He manages the Microsoft category and several key publishers including Take-Two, Sega, Square Enix, Codemasters, THQ and Konami. He has delivered consistent share growth across all his supplier base and has been instrumental in Asda’s planning for the launch of Microsoft Kinect. He also blogs regularly on behalf of the Asda games team at the retailer’s consumer facing blog, Aisle Spy.

Matt Roche
Age: 24
International PR Executive, 2K Games

Matt has been with 2K for several months working as part of the International team which supports the publisher’s PR managers across Europe, Australia and Asia. He’s quickly made a name for himself at the company, working on successful launches for Mafia II, Civilization V and NBA 2K11, as well as high profile announcements of BioShock Infinite and Duke Nukem Forever. Colleagues say he is level headed, professional, proficient and mature beyond his years and “an absolute asset to the 2K International team”.

Richard Thompson
Age: 27
Games Buyer, HMV

Thompson joined HMV's trading team a little under two years ago as assistant buyer. His no-nonsense attitude, and ability to see commercial opportunities that would otherwise have been missed, have helped him establish his reputation as a key member of the HMV team. He was promoted to buyer this year and has stepped up to the plate to drive HMV’s commercial offer this Christmas, securing a host of exclusive deals and great offers for the business.

Andy Robinson
Age: 24
Deputy Editor, CVG

As the day-to-day contact and newshound for consumer games site, Robinson has proven himself a tireless copy machine for CVG as well as tech mag T3.  Despite still being just 24, his knowledge of the gaming landscape would rival that of any seasoned veteran, whilst his knowledge of Upton Park fares well with the industry’s West Ham cartel. CVG editor and GMA winner Tim Ingham says his understudy has “thrived since taking the role of deputy editor earlier this year – and has a great future ahead of him.”

Sarah Jasper
Age: 29
Head of Business Development, The Hut Group

Jasper joined The Hut Group in summer 2009 as product marketing manager for games. She has played a pivotal marketing role within the fast-growing online retailer’s senior team and after only eight months with us she was promoted. She now leads a team of marketing managers. This role has broadened her reach across all of The Hut’s product categories with continued development and execution of tactical planning, as well as multi-site brand development.

Andy Farrant
Age: 28
Producer, Xbox Live Europe

In the two years that Farrant has been part of Inside Xbox, he’s gone from near-anonymous ex-PlayStation.com scribe to a face that’s instantly recognisable to hundreds of thousands of Xbox Live gamers. He has contributed greatly to Inside Xbox’s success and credibility, responsible for the co-creation and publication of text and video content across 16 European locales for the on-console channel. A key success has been talking to the Xbox Live community on even terms and making them an integral part of the channel’s regular shows.

Danielle Robinson
Age: 28
Associate Product Marketing Manager, UK & Europe, THQ

After three and a half years at THQ Robinson has led and driven some of the firm’s biggest recent hits. She has looked after several key licensees, and over the past year moved into driving internal IP. From her ownership of the Big Beach franchise, to her current work on the WWE brand, Darksiders, Games Workshop titles and digital releases (starting with Costume Quest), Dani is now responsible for some of THQ’s key upcoming releases.

Saj Ismael
Age: 27
Account Manager, Lunch PR

Ismael started his career at urban lifestyle magazine Touch, and became the youngest deputy editor in the magazine’s 15-year history at 24. From there he moved into the realm of PR working at Spring , specialising in music and men’s lifestyle press. Past clients include Hugo Fragrances, GlobalGathering and Jack Daniel’s. His knowledge of games made him a perfect match for Lunch, currently looking after 4MM and its rap game Def Jam. He also continues his role as music publicist for Hollywood star Idris Elba (The Wire, Luther and Thor).

David Smith
Age: 26
Marketing Executive, UKIE

Smith has been with UKIE for just over two years. During the last six months was instrumental in rebranding from ELSPA; from initial concept to delivery, managing the design of the new logo and its implementation on all UKIE materials, delivering a new website, and organising UKIE’s Westminster launch event. He has also helped make this year’s London Games Festival a reality, offering event director Kirsty Payne valuable support and being responsible for maintaining the LGF website.

Dominic Carey
Age: 24
Games Specialist, Xbox PR

Carey came to Xbox fresh out of university and has, to quote his boss, “devoured” the PR essentials. He has  married his enjoyment of playing games with working to develop key media relations and creating a wide variety and high volume of activity for the platform. His current role charges him with leading campaigns, games media relations and social/digital outreach. Carey’s deep knowledge of the platform combined with a creative approach on telling the undercover stories means unique angles on Xbox are brought to life under his watch.

Richard Churchill
Age: 28
Marketing Assistant, Konami
Konami peers say Churchill has an incredible eye for detail, and an encyclopaedic knowledge of games. He has an eye for a fledgling title and was key to the recognition of Castlevania: Lords of Shadow’s potential. He has proven himself happy to go the extra mile, and is an integral part of the marketing process, offering ideas, cutting trailers, and creating design ideas for use in all promotions. He works closely with both PR, marketing and sales to maximise coverage – a vital wheel in the Konami machine.

Kate Billingham
Age: 29
PR and Marketing Executive, Sega
Formally part of the UK Frag Dolls team, Billingham joined Sega UK in October 2008. Since then she has proven herself a natural at product demos, thanks to extensive games knowledge and passion – which also helps press relations. Her colleagues say these attributes prove she played a key part in Sega’s 2010 PR Team win at the MCV Awards. Since arriving Billingham has single-handedly brought several releases to market, including Super Monkey Ball: Step and Roll, Yakuza 3 and Valkyria Chronicles 2.

Nick Arran
Age: 29
Senior Games Buyer, Sainbury’s

Arran is an old-hand in games retail, having
worked for a number of leading retailers and distributors including EUK, Amazon, HMV, Gamestation and now Sainsbury’s. But he’s still a young face in the trade – and all that time in the field means the 29-year-old is undoubtedly one of the most experienced buyers in the industry with an excellent proven track record.

James Haley
Age: 29
Video Games Advertising Manager,
Imagine Publishing
As head of the videogames team at Imagine, Haley has been instrumental in the commercial success of the publisher’s video games titles and, more recently, umbrella consumer site NowGamer.com. He is accountable for driving revenue across all of Imagine’s publications and has been responsible for some major added-value executions the games magazines have run during his four years at the company.

Juliette Green
Age: 26
Senior Product Manager, 505 Games

Green (née Fielder) is one of original members of the 505 Games team, joining the firm from Codemasters back in 2007 when it was just a six-person outfit. She is a key member of the team, instrumental in launching and managing important brands as diverse as Cooking Mama, IL-2, Naughty Bear and most recently Grease. Green was recently promoted to Senior Product Manager and continues to be a popular member of the team and helps drive the 505 marketing efforts across its portfolio.

Gillen McAllister
Age: 29
Staff Writer, OXM

A multi-talented Games Media Award-nominated writer, McAllister writes a vast chunk of OXM every month, seeking out content that celebrates gaming culture. Recent highlights include a look into the world of fan movies, the genesis of the unofficial Street Fighter film, how to create the perfect Star Wars game and a behind-the-scenes look at the Halo: Reach launch. He also contributes photo and video content, too.

Chris Harwood
Age: 28
Head of Buying, Grainger Games

Harwood has developed and driven the buying processes for Grainger Games that have delivered the exceptional stock turn and responsive pricing that his bosses say is at the core of the company’s success. He has built strong supplier relationships that continue to support Grainger Games through its expansion. In his 10 years with the business Harwood has gained a reputation for his product knowledge, his passion for the industry and for his personable approach to business.

Andrew Larcombe
Age: 29
Senior National Account Manager, Square Enix
Larcombe currently runs the GAME, Play and Amazon accounts for Square Enix, having joined from Sony. He’s been at Square Enix since January 2009, reporting to sales director Doug Bone along with two other account managers. He has worked on some of the biggest releases for the publisher, including Batman: Arkham Asylum and Final Fantasy XIII and is credited with their successful launch at the firm’s key retail partners in the last year.

Stephen Juson
Age: 28
Senior Account Manager, Target Media

Juson is the youngest senior account manager in media agency Target’s history, and has made a big impression since joining from a role looking after music and TV accounts for Manning Gottlieb OMD. He heads up the games team, working on the latest releases from Namco Bandai, Konami, Codemasters, Bethesda, and Sega. Key work for the latter included Aliens vs Predator, Sega’s biggest opening weekend in 10 years, Mario & Sonic at the Olympic Winter Games and the post-Christmas campaign for Bayonetta.

Peter Oliver
Age: 29
PR Executive, Namco Bandai
A recent hire for Namco Bandai, Oliver joined from mainstream agency Indigo Pearl but is now carving out his reputation amongst the specialist press.
He’s described by many as likeable and friendly – good to hear given his focus has been to become immersed deep in the gaming community and work closer with gamers and fans rather than the stereotypical specialist print media. Colleagues say he “identifies the core audience in ways never seen from other industry PRs”.

Parham Shibaie
Age: 27
Customer Service Manager, Nintendo

Shibaie joined Nintendo UK in 2006 as part of the UK finance team, in 2007 he became trade and systems analyst. He has since taken charge of Nintendo UK’s customer service remit where he not only oversees and manages the format holder’s consumer service and customer repair offerings, but is also responsible for managing various aspects of logistics and warehousing. His work with UK retailers makes sure games get to market on time – and that the customers who purchase them are happy.


Sean Bamberger (Lunch PR), Will Beckett (Premier), Michael Bembridge (GSG), Bryony Benoy (Ubisoft), Stephen Bowes (Sainsbury's), Gary Clay (Xbox), Harry Cole (Premier PR), Edwin Evans-Thirlwell (Kikizo), Martin Fitzpatrick (THQ), Gemma Hersh (UKIE), Craig Lewis (Creative Distribution),
Ben Montgomery (Asda), Tom Orry (VideoGamer.com), Adam Phillips (Square Enix), Chin Soon Sun (Tecmo Koei), Craig Stephens (NCsoft),
Sebastian Streiffert (NCsoft), Chris Thomas (VideoGamer.com), Simon Watts (THQ), Keir Wells (Grainger Games), James Yelland (Asda)


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