30 Under 30 – 2009

Want to know who the trade’s hottest new talents are? Look no further. In this feature, MCV provides a guide – alphabetically, by surname – to some of the brightest young guns in the sector.

2009’s MCV 30 Under 30 is sponsored by OPM Recruitment, the leading specialist recruitment consultancy in the computer, console, handheld, mobile, online games and interactive entertainment sectors. OPM recruits for a diverse roster of clients in the UK and worldwide with jobs available in every area of business associated with entertainment products and services. www.opmjobs.com

(Note: If you’re wondering why there are no games developers on this list, don’t worry. Our sister magazine Develop is preparing a 30 Under 30 explicitly dedicated to the global games development community – click here to find out more.)

Bolu Akindoyin

Marketing Manager, amBX

In his five years with amBX, 26 year old Bolu has run product and technology launches, organised amBX’s presence at exhibitions internationally and presented the tech on five continents. At amBX, he is known for his attention to detail and dedication to driving amBX in the games industry and beyond.

Lauren Bradley

Product Manager, Namco Bandai

Lauren joined Namco Bandai earlier this year from agency Cogent Elliot, where she was responsible for accounts with luxury brands such as Land Rover. In just over six months, her professional approach and refusal to crack under pressure has impressed those inside and outside the company.

Rob Burman

European PR Manager, South Peak Games

28-year-old Rob took up his role at SouthPeak at the start of the year. Since then, he’s juggled a varied workload, one minute sending out decapitated heads to journalists, the next working with the Brownies for a baby game. He’s an enthusiastic and extremely dedicated PR manager.

Chris Cahill

Senior Games Buyer, Sainsbury’s

Chris’ colleagues call him an incredibly valuable member of the team who drives the supermarket’s games category both internally and externally. He has great relationships with suppliers, which have been instrumental in bringing Sainsbury’s closer to the games industry throughout the last 18 months.

Alice Carlisle

Account Director, Maverick

Alice has worked on a number of high-profile creative projects for publishers – for brands including FIFA and Pirates of the Caribbean – earning praise from the likes of Disney, Bethesda and others. She now has a senior role at Maverick, helping clients with digital ad strategies in the non-boxed game space.

Gary Clay

Xbox EMEA Third Party Marketing Manager, Microsoft

26-year-old Gary works with a number of high profile publishers to deliver integrated marketing campaigns that drive use of 360 hardware, software and Xbox Live to create the best possible console ecosystem. He joined the Microsoft team from EA about a year ago and is proving to be a real asset to the EMEA team, one very senior Xbox boss tells us.He has a genuine passion for both the games and music industries – and is also rather talented at Guitar Hero and DJ Hero, we hear.

Guy Cocker

Editor, Gamespot UK

Guy was recently appointed editor of Gamespot UK. A member of the editorial team since the site was re-launched in 2006, he steered the GameSpot UK Podcast to the top of the iTunes Games chart and a Games Media Award win in 2007. He also launched the site’s GMA-nominated video show Start/Select. His recent promotion sees him taking control of GameSpot UK as it continues to grow: the latest stats for the site boast 4.5m unique users and 58.6m page impressions per month.

Ramona Da Souza

PR, Lunch PR

Described by her boss as ‘the real gem in the team’, Da Souza joined agency Lunch two years ago, coming straight from university after graduation from her degree in Public Relations. Since joining Lunch she has become a key member of the team, working across several high-profile accounts including work on games released by companies such as Sega, Majesco, Koch Media and Mindscape. She is currently working on the forthcoming release of U-Sing, the official karoke game on the Wii.

Hannah Ebatson

Pre-owned Games Head, HMV

Hannah started work at Virgin Retail where she was accessory buyer, looking after the firm’s peripheral ranges. After that, she moved over to Game working as pre-played games merchandiser for second hand titles. In April 2008, Hannah joined HMV. She has been instrumental in the successful launch of the second hand and trade-in Re-Play games range at HMV, which has steadily grown to become a key part of the retailer’s gaming offer since it was rolled out to stores a year ago.

Victoria Fisher

UK Trade Marketing Manager, THQ

Victoria recently took on her new role as trade marketing manager at THQ. This comes following a four-year tenure working in the UK and European marketing team. There she worked on successful brands such as the publsher’s Disney/Pixar game tie-ins, plus titles based on Nickelodeon properties, as well as some of THQ’s releases, based on owned IPs.In her new role, Victoria has already successfully launched the WWE pre-order campaign and continues to work hard and build trade relationships.

Natalie Giles

Brand Manager, Activision Blizzard

28-year-old Natalie has worked at Activision for over a year, having significant impact on the firm’s licensed IP releases and launching the new value range Fun 4 All. She has driven significant profit growth across these areas during a time when licensed kids titles have elsewhere struggled. Her continued enthusiasm has helped raise the profile of games that otherwise would be overshadowed by big names such as Call of Duty and Guitar Hero.

Ben Hardcastle

Senior Games Buyer, The Hut

Ben has single handedly taken games at The Hut group from nothing to turnover in excess of 20 million within the last three years – and he’s only 28. Ben isn’t afraid to speak his mind: he was promoted from being a customer service agent in his first couple of weeks after he stepped up to single out the poor range on offer. He has since created a formidable product offering which is nearly always cheaper than other online competitors.

Craig Lewis

General Manager, Creative Distribution

During his three years at Creative Distribution, Australian Craig has built solid relationships within the trade and established himself with a mix of intelligence and good buying skills. Last year he stepped up to the position of general manger from senior buyer and is now the most senior member of staff outside of the directors. He is seen as a major driving force in pushing the company forward, so expect to hear a lot more of his name in future.

Laura Lister

Games Buyer, Asda

Skillfully managing Asda’s accessory category boosted Laura’s reputation in 2009; the section continues to grow ahead of the market and deliver big year on year growth. And thanks to effective management of her stable of a dozen suppliers she has delivered stella launch results on titles such as Ashes and Operation Flashpoint. Her down to earth and ‘happy to help’ approach has earned her credibility plus many friends from across the industry, all of whom say we should expect to see more her in the future.

Rupert Loman

Managing Director, Eurogamer

Since co-founding Eurogamer in 1999, Rupert has helped develop consumer site Eurogamer.net into Europe’s leading games website. In recent years he has overseen the launch of Eurogamer in ten languages and established consumer event the Eurogamer Expo as a key date in the gaming calendar. More recently, he worked with Patrick Garratt to launch the Games Media Award-winning games blog VG247.com. He is also a founding trustee of industry charity GamesAid.

Neil Long

Editor, Official Nintendo Magazine

Long is a familiar face to MCV readers – but his career in games started before a three-year stint with the industry’s leading trade publication. He started out in marketing at Special Reserve, moving to Intent Media in 2005. He was appointed editor of MCV two years later, at 24. He then made the switch to Future London in November 2008, taking up the reins of the Official Nintendo Magazine and Wii Guide, and is pushing the magazine forward on all fronts including print, online and special projects.

Adam McCann

Operations Director, VideoGamer.com

Adam founded VideoGamer.com while still at university. Now 25, colleagues say his tireless passion and enthusiasm for games drives him to work until all hours devising strategies to push the brand forward. These efforts – such as forging a deal to make VideoGamer Virgin Media’s gaming content partner, further expanding the site’s editorial reach – have achieved sterling results. The site now boasts over 1.1m uniques and over 4m page impressions a month.

Olly McGowan

Asset Management, Indigo Pearl

Olly looks after the assets for some of the biggest publishers in the world for Indigo Pearl, such as Activision, Sega, Namco Bandai, Disney, Konami, Bethesda and Sony. He also updates, develops and designs new systems to help maintain Indigo’s edge in asset management. Oh, and, his colleagues are quite keen to point out he enjoys time outside the office, with active hobbies such as skiing and abseiling, and, apparently, a touch of naked golf when weather permits.

Andy Miles

Senior Marketing Executive, Interactive Ideas

29-year-old Andy has been instrumental in the growth of distributor Interactive Ideas. Thanks to his input, the company has achieved record revenues and doubled in size during the last two years. Descrbed by colleagues as an excellent communicator and creative thinker, he has built strong relationships with both Interactive Ideas’ key customers and its top suppliers, helping Interactive to out-perform its competitors.

Kieran O’Neill

Co-founder and CEO, Playfire

The first firm Kieran set up was a video sharing website he opened age 15 – and which he sold for $1.25m at 19. But forget early retirement, he then founded three companies, two in games: PSU.com, a huge online community for Sony fans, and social network for gamers, Playfire. The 22-year-old is doing something right – key investors include founders of Skype, Bebo, Lastminute.com and LoveFilm, plus industry luminaries Chris Deering and David Gardner.

Sophie Orlando

Publicist, EA Games

Sophie has worked in the industry for two years, hailing from an agency background, and is the day-to-day point of contact for franchises including Battlefield, Need For Speed and Left 4 Dead. She is also heavily involved in event management and PR strategy. Her eye for detail, efficiency and commitment have greatly impressed colleagues and contacts – so much so that she is already managing a number of her own projects.

Louise Powell

Marketing Executive, Gem

Recently-promoted Louise manages the marketing for Gem’s supply partners and works closely with sales teams to maximise product awareness in the channel. This includes overseeing marketing activity in Gem’s The Future magazine, co-ordinating web communications and trade campaigns.

Martin Pullen

Owner, ZXGamer

Martin opened his indie store ZX aged just 19, in October 2008. Situated in the busy university town of Loughborough, the store recently celebrated its first year of business and has enjoyed continual month on month sales growth in the face of the recession and local pressure on the High Street. The store has two employees, recently introduced its own reward scheme, the ZCard, and is financially self sufficient. Martin’s next aim is to open a second store early next year, plus an e-commerce site.

Daniela Schulze

Project Manager, Babel Media

Daniela has risen through the ranks at Babel and is now one of the QA and localisation firm’s star project managers. Both co-workers and industry contacts lobbied for her to be on the list thanks to her sterling work looking after the releases from major clients including THQ, Eidos, Playlogic and Take 2. She’s known as easy to deal with, efficient, very responsive – and, above all, honest; all very important skills when helping publishers during the most crucial period before a game’s release.

Ann Scantlebury

Co-host and Head of News, One Life Left

24-year-old Scantlebury is Head of News (or, colloquially, ‘News Fox’) and co-host of Games Media Award winner One Life Left. Co-hosts Ste Curran and Simon Byron say Scantlebury is a perfect representation of the expanded games audience in 2009, who know little about video games but don’t care; they play things because they are fun and they make their lives better. She can hold her own without her colleagues too – in their absence she recently hosted special episode ‘Ann Life Left’.

Chin Sun Soon

Creative Designer & Community Director, Tecmo Koei

Chin has been instrumental in supporting Tecmo Koei’s rebrand and merger, helping to create a continuity and identity between all the firm’s brands. He oversees and drives the creative process for marketing across Europe, and has a clear vision for the identity of each product. Whether working on press invites and billboards or dealing with fanatical Dynasty Warriors fans, Chin’s input and vision is driving the awareness of Tecmo Koei and its games, helping to not only keep core fans happy, but grow its audience.

James Thornby

Product Manager, Disney Interactive

James joined Disney Interactive Studios in January 2008 from Konami. He currently works across the UK and Ireland sales and marketing team leading product forecasting and managing frontlist releases such as Disney’s Club Penguin DS – which topped the DS chart this year. In addition, James is point person for Ireland, South Africa and Australia’s marketing activities. He is currently leading the local sales and marketing team for next year’s hotly-tipped racer Split/Second.

Craig Ting

Site Merchandiser, Amazon

Craig joined Amazon.co.uk in July 2007 from a background in hospitality management. The 24-year-old has become an integral part of the team through his creative approach to site merchandising, aided by his product knowledge and passion for genres including RPGs. Responsibilities range from planning trade marketing campaigns to management of email and editorial strategy. He’s also a ‘glorious leader’, ‘key player’ or ‘complete liability’ at the MCV Pub Quiz, depending on who you talk to.

Ian Webster

Community Manager, Codemasters

In a job requiring endless patience, nerves of steel and dedication to community causes, Ian Webster has shown how to inspire, manage and entertain online gaming communities, wherever they are. His community contribution to the marketing and development process makes better games, as proven with the recent successes of Operation Flashpoint and Dirt 2. Work on both led to some ‘best of breed’ social media efforts, including number one rankings on YouTube.

Ryan Wylie

Repairs Supervisor, Total Console Repair

Originally hailing from South Africa, 27-year-old Ryan came to the UK in 2004 and his keen interest in
gaming led him to eventually taking a role at Total Console Repair in 2006. According to his boss he quickly excelled at the firm. His colleagues attribute Ryan’s strong leadership skills, passion and determination as having helped seriously grow the business into what is now Europe’s largest independent console repair centre.


And this bunch of young guns didn’t quite make the grade for 2009 – but are worthy of acknowledgement nonetheless. Maybe next year, chaps?

Bryony Benoy (Ubisoft), James Haley (Imagine), Alastair Islip (Asda), Andrew Mehta (United Games), Chris Tufnell (BHPR), Darren Neville (HMV), Graeme Boyd (Xbox), Johanna Hakala (Activision Blizzard), Ken Clow (Sainsbury’s), Keyleigh Watson (BHPR), Nick Arran (Sainsbury’s), Peter Oliver (Indigo Pearl), Richard Thompson (HMV), Sarah Jasper (The Hut), Sharan Jain (Bounjourno), Laura Hewitt (Electronic Arts)

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