Final Boss: Aj Grand-Scrutton, CEO and co-founder of Dlala Studios

How does it feel to be crowned the Best Boss in the whole of the UK games industry?

Oh god… It is an absolutely incredible honour. Easily the highest honour of my career, because it was driven by my team and they are the ones whose opinion matters the most to me. As long as they are happy and enjoying being at Dlala, that is all that matters!

When the awards got announced I was out visiting Disney in the States and it was early in the morning LA time, so I was hoping I could sneak through my morning meetings without it getting seen. I was sitting in a large boardroom with all our friends at Disney and the wonderful John Drake [VP bizdev at Disney Games] walks in and instantly is like “Well if it isn’t the UK’s best boss”. I mean what do you say to that?!

What’s your secret?

Whilst I don’t want to downplay the importance of the award – because it is very important to me – I consider myself to have cheated my way to it. Not because I paid off GIbiz’s Chris Dring, but because I truly believe it’s easy to be a good boss when you have a team as wonderful as mine. All I try to do each day is be the boss I wish I’d had. Protect the team, support them and make sure that Dlala Studios as a company is never complacent in its evolution.

Aside from the accolades, what’s been the personal highlight of your career?

I’ve been lucky to have a career full of amazing moments. Announcing Disney Illusion Island on stage at D23 is easily one of the most overwhelming moments of my life. I’ve also loved watching the long-term Dlalans grow from their first roles in the industry, into leading departments within the company.

… and for Dlala?

Hitting our ten year anniversary. This industry can be absolutely brutal at times and when Craig [Thomas, co-founder] and I started the company we never imagined ten years. We knew you had to get through Year One, Year Three and Year Five. Those traditionally are the ones that are hard to reach. The fact we’re close to Year 11, I mean, I don’t even know how to comprehend that.

What does the future hold; for you, for the studio, and for the industry?

For me personally I just want to continue making games I love, with people I love, for people to love. For Dlala we continue to grow. Disney Illusion Island comes out this year and it’s the biggest thing we’ve ever done, in every way. That just means that what we do next has to be bigger and better than that. For the industry, I genuinely have no idea. In the decade Dlala has existed, the industry has changed on an almost yearly basis, but I am sticking to the belief that I’ve always had. That good games will always find a way to be made.

What’s the biggest hurdle Dlala will have to face in the years ahead and how will it overcome it?

I think Craig Duncan [studio head at Rare] rounded this up for me best a couple of years ago. He told me that Dlala is growing and doing amazing things year-on-year, but that in my head sometimes I’m still in the garage and that I need to get out of the mindset of ‘surviving’ and move into ‘thriving’. With the team I have around me, and the team members yet-tojoin, I truly believe we’ll accomplish that and much much more.

About Richie Shoemaker

Prior to taking the editorial helm of MCV/DEVELOP Richie spent 20 years shovelling word-coal into the engines of numerous gaming magazines and websites, many of which are now lost beneath the churning waves of progress. If not already obvious, he is partial to the odd nautical metaphor.

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