It is a tremendous pleasure to announce this year’s 30 Under 30, once again showcasing the very best young people in the industry. We say this every year – but we have truly been inundated with nominations, highlighting the sheer wealth of talent that we have in our industry.
We would like to thank everyone who got in touch to nominate their colleagues and peers, simultaneously demonstrating a tremendous amount of goodwill at a time when we perhaps need it most, and making our staff writer’s email account fully unusable for a month.
As with last year, we have again opened the doors to every single aspect of the broader UK games industry, making the competition to reach the final list particularly fierce. Narrowing down the nominations to just 30 winners was incredibly difficult, with some truly heartbreaking decisions to ensure we best represent young talent from right across our broad and eclectic industry.
We would of course like to applaud our winners, but we also wish to extend that to our honourable mentions and indeed, everyone who was nominated. The passion you all show for your careers is incredible, and despite current events, the UK games industry has a bright future ahead. Congratulations to you all.
Video Producer, ReedPOP
Dean Abdou has relentlessly climbed the ranks since joining the industry as a PR intern at Think Jam. Since then he has worked as a freelancer, a staff writer for the likes of Geek Bomb and Resero Network, before joining Gamer Network last year.
To quote one of his supporters: “Dean Abdou brings a perfect balance of professionalism, energy, and fun into everything he does. Dean is truly excellent at everything he chooses to do, and I’m excited to see what more he continues to bring to the industry.”
Senior Level Designer, Sumo Digital Ltd
Wesley Arthur has spent his four-year span in the industry at Sumo Digital, having been promoted several times since he joined after graduating with a first class degree in game design from Sheffield Hallam University. He started at Sumo as a junior designer, but was soon promoted to level designer and is now senior level designer.
“Wesley’s work has continued to impress colleagues and clients,” said one of his supporters, “and I would mark him out as someone who will one day play a senior leadership role within the industry.”
Software Engineer, Improbable
Described as a “programming wizard,” Joel Auterson has spent the last three years at Improbable, but is also the co-founder of indie studio Bearwaves – where he is responsible for producing and programming Feud, an indie live-services strategy game across mobile and PC, currently sitting at over 40k players.
In his work at Improbable, meanwhile, he has built their open-source matchmaking and live services systems, creating more opportunities for the game makers of the future to realise their visions and bring their titles to the masses.
Release Manager, Xbox
Imogen Beresford-Bone joined the industry in 2014 at GAME as a Trade Marketing Assistant in their head office. In just three years, she worked her way up to trade marketing account manager, managing accounts such as Ubisoft, Blizzard, Capcom and Bethesda.
She then joined Xbox in 2017 as a release manager; working with partners all around the world during the development, launch and life cycle of their products. She is also an ambassador for SpecialEffect, and is currently volunteering for St John’s Ambulance and as a trustee of SafeInOurWorld.
Senior Gameplay Programmer, Rocksteady Studios
Gil Canizes started his career as a co-founder of indie studio Insane Sheep, after which he moved to Ubisoft to work on Assassin’s Creed Origins and Beyond Good & Evil 2. While there, he impressed both his own team in Sofia, Bulgaria as well as programmers in other studios. He joined Rocksteady Studios in 2018, where he was quickly promoted to senior gameplay programmer.
To quote one of his supporters: “Gil is the personification of a gameplay programmer; every bit as good a designer as he is a coder. He brings the two disciplines together perfectly, and for the betterment not just of the game but all who work with him.”
Game Designer, Ubisoft Reflections
Since joining Ubisoft Reflections in 2017 from Brunel University London, Lara Coulson has been described as “an integral part of the design team, exceeding all expectations along the way. From being instrumental in the co-creation of the clans feature in Tom Clancy’s The Division 2, to mentoring young people as part of the Ubisoft Gaming School, Lara has demonstrated time and time again that she has a bright future in the video game industry.”
Coulson was co-creator on the clans feature in The Division 2 during her first year at Ubisoft, spearheading the design of the feature.
Kai Elizabeth Du
Hard Surface Artist, Creative Assembly
Kai Elizabeth Du gained a first-class degree in Computer Game Art from Teesside before starting her career in games at Creative Assembly in 2014.
As an artist she now specializes in hard surfaces. And over the years she has contributed to the Total War: Warhammer series, Total War: Arena, Total War: Britannia, as well as working on Halo Wars 2 in partnership with 343 Industries.
She is currently working on Creative Assembly’s as yet unnamed new FPS IP. And in the company’s internal game jam last year, her team landed 1st place.
Game Developer, King
Alexander Dudok de Wit started in the industry working on VR and games projects before leaving to work on his own games. Dudok De Wit led a team to the finals of Dare to be Digital in 2015 showcasing their game at the ProtoPlay games festival in Dundee and went on to have their game greenlit on Steam.
More recently he has worked at King as a developer on Candy Crush Friends Saga. He has also organised and hosted the first Global Game Jam at King, and was invited back to work for City University and is now working as a lecturer teaching the entire Computer Games Architecture module.
Studio Operations Manager, Big Pixel Studios
Georgina Felce has spent the past two years working at Big Pixel Studios, having joined in 2018 as a studio manager before being quickly promoted to studio operations manager. She was one of GamesIndustry.biz’s 100 most influential women in UK Games, and is committed to building a more inclusive and diverse industry.
She is part of Games Events London and regularly hosts educational networking events. According to one of her supporters: “Gina is a champion! The studio wouldn’t be where it is today with her contributions over the past 12 months. Gina helps the studio tick along with all things operations day to day but is always looking for ways to make things better.”
Global Partner Marketing Manager, Sony Interactive Entertainment
Phil Garrett joined PlayStation in 2017, after five years at Xbox as an international campaign manager. As the product management lead for third-party partnerships, Garrett successfully delivered regional partnership campaigns for the Red Dead Redemption 2 and Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 launches.
Soon after, he received a promotion to his current role of global partner marketing Manager, which has seen him globally manage key third-party marketing partnerships as well as two direct reports based in the UK and the US. One supporter describes him as “a master of organisation and efficiency, he clearly has a very bright future ahead of him in the video games industry.”
Product Manager, Frontier Developments
An honourable mention in last year’s list – Alasdair Hibberd joined the industry in 2016 at Wired Productions, starting as a production manager on the We Sing franchise, before moving up to work as product marketing manager.
During his time at Wired, he helped them to win MCV’s Best Campaign Under £500K award in 2019, and secure three years of consecutive Indie Publisher of the Year nominations. He was also involved in the groundwork to create Safe In Our World, personally coining the name. After four years at Wired, he very recently joined Frontier Developments as product manager.
Principal Artist, Mediatonic
Anna Hollinrake is an art director, illustrator and 2017-18 BAFTA Breakthrough Brit. She has worked for a long list of companies since joining the industry as a freelancer in 2014, before heading to Mediatonic this year.
She has worked on projects such as Lola and the Giant, Arca’s Path VR, Magic: Duels and Adventure Time: Pirates of the Enchiridion. To quote a rather enthusiastic supporter of hers: “She’s a gem that outshines every other in this industry and she will continue to glow forever more. She’s great, get her on that goddamn list else it’s just INVALID.”
Account Manager, Indigo Pearl
Since leaving his old job in IT nearly 3 years ago and making a career change, Alex Holt-Kulapalan has gone from being an intern to an account manager, working on some of the biggest names in games, including Blizzard, Google Stadia, CCP Games, Wargaming, Facepunch, Epic, the BBC and more.
“Alex has a natural grasp for all things tech and highly complex subject matter,” said one of his supporters. “He has an encyclopaedic knowledge of everything from triple-A titles to indie platformers, from first-person shooters to virtual worlds. Best of all, Alex knows just how to make those titles shine.”
Content Manager, Fanatical
Described as an “SEO and content whiz,” Sam Jones has taken his experience as an award-nominated news journalist into the world of marketing and SEO. He has also been a huge presence across Fanatical’s social channels after taking on the role of script writer and presenter.
To quote one of his sponsors: “Sam manages Fanatical’s content and has written over 1,000 blogs in his time here! Which has seen a 149.9 per cent increase in sessions over the last six months. If this wasn’t enough he is also the main star of our new YouTube videos, writing, recording and performing the scripts, or being on camera, reviewing games or interviewing
– he is the voice of Fanatical!”
Jamie K King
Jamie King started working in game development in 2015 when he joined ISO Design as a junior designer. At ISO he assisted with the development and design for dozens of interactives for award winning visitor attractions such as Epic Ireland and the National Museum of Scotland.
In 2017 King co-founded Moonshine Studios, where he is the lead designer and responsible for level, game and narrative design – assisting with other tasks such as art direction, UI creation, 3D modelling, VFX and QA. Moonshine Studios will soon be releasing its debut title, Get Packed with publisher Coatsink. Get Packed was announced as one of the first Stadia exclusive games at Google’s 2019 E3 Stadia Connect which reached millions of people across the world.
3D Artist, Playdeo
Sophie Knowles has spent much of her time in the industry since 2014 as a freelancer, working with studios such as A Brave Plan, doing animation for The Bradwell Conspiracy. In 2019 she joined Playdeo, where she worked on Avo! – a game about a female scientist and her avocado companion.
Outside of work she is a member of BAFTA Crew Games, and helps with Game Events London. One of her (many) supporters describes her as “massively determined, focused, creative and ambitious, with a phenomenal work ethic – but she seems to always balance it well with her personal life as she’s a great friend too. Sophie is a phenomenal professional and a wonderful human being.”
Social Media & Marketing Executive, Rebellion
Described by one as a “pun factory you love to hate,” Ben Maltz-Jones has been a member of the Rebellion team since joining in early 2019. He managed and planned the social campaign for the launch of Zombie Army 4 and was crucial in the reveals of Evil Genius 2 and Sniper Elite at E3.
He is cited as being critical to Rebellion’s social growth with a 25% increase in just his first year; and has been involved in much of their video content production. One supporter states: “Ben is a level of creative talent that’s been unheard of in the British Isles since Celtic times. What he lacks in hair he makes up for with sheer creative energy.”
Environment Artist, Splash Damage
His supporters tell us that Jack Mudge has fostered the LGBTQ+ community at Splash Damage, having created the LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group. He has been with Splash Damage for two years now, having joined as associate environment artist, before being promoted to his current position within just one year.
“His passion and drive to make our studio a better place is second to none, and I have seen it motivate more people to be outspoken about what they believe is right, and inspire the next generation of LGBTQ+ folks at Splash Damage to make a difference” said one supporter.
Editor, InfluencerUpdate.biz at Steel Media
Danielle Partis joined the industry in October 2017, launching the InfluencerUpdate.biz brand at Steel Media, having previously worked as a freelancer and PR manager. She also won Journalist of the Year at our 2019 Women in Games Awards.
She juggles a number of roles, having built the site up from nothing, alongside speaking at industry panels. “Danielle has had a brilliant year!” said one supporter. “Aside from being the core editor on InfluencerUpdate.biz, she’s won awards for her incredibly hard work for the site. She’s dedicated and driven – a strong wee gem!”
Head of Production & Operations, Airship Images
Declan Paul started his first role in the games industry a little under four years ago as a producer at Airship Images, where he was promoted to his current role in just two years. Paul has worked on a number of high profile titles including the upcoming Baldur’s Gate 3, Star Wars Jedi Fallen Order, Forza Horizon 4, Hitman 2 and Star Wars Battlefront 2.
“Declan is driven to be successful in the games industry,” said one supporter. “His passion for productivity and games are a perfect match for working as a head of production. In the three years he has been with the company he has taken on more and more responsibility and learned an array of new tasks, never shying away from a challenge.”
Producer at Electric Square
Abbey Plumb wears a number of different hats in this industry. Not only is she a producer at Electric Square, she is also an ambassador for both Women in Games and Special Effect, and has industry experience across mobile, console and tabletop games. She is the founder of the ‘WIGJ Midlands Quarterly Meeting’ and the ‘Killer Pool Championship’ for SpecialEffect which brought together 150+ industry professionals.
She has also produced IAP offers, charity runs and 24hr gaming livestreams which have raised over £100,000 for charity. “Abbey was our producer on a really difficult project,” said one supporter, “but the way she rallied and looked after the team was incredible. She is fiercely protective of her people, and was extremely well liked by her colleagues while she was working with us.
Rory Powers beat hundreds of hopefuls to get a job as one of the main hosts and producers at IGN. In his time at IGN he helped shape the IGNUK team into what it is today, and was instrumental in bringing home multiple awards for podcasts and videos. He’s currently co-founder of RKG, one of the UK games industry’s most successful Patreon businesses.
“I’ve worked with people in games media for almost 10 years and I’ve never met anyone with the same passion and enthusiasm as him. He also has a big, mad accent which makes him mysterious,” said one sponsor.
Associate Lawyer, Sheridans
Liam Price began his career as an intern working for Warner Bros in 2014 and thereafter being trained as a lawyer with the company. His work at Sheridans sees him advising a number of
indies and triple-A developers.
Price was ESL UK’s first legal support in 2015/16 and is a founder of Out Making Games, an LGBTQ+ diversity network for those working in the games industry. Price regularly presents to the games industry on multiple commercial legal topics, such as at UKIE with their UKIE Hub Crawls in 2019 and 2020, the UKIE Hotline for games legal advice in 2019 and their no-deal Brexit guide.
Marketing Specialist, Nomad Games
Samantha Quirk began her career in the industry at GAME, where she spent five years and rose quickly through the ranks – starting as a senior sales assistant, moving up through management until she was finally working as a CRM executive. Last year she joined Nomad Games, where we are told that she has “revolutionised” their output.
“As a small studio, Nomad Games can sometimes struggle to be noticed amongst the big boys,” said one supporter. “Sam has helped enormously in organising marketing campaigns, changing our company branding and website, plus improving company morale through event management.”
Head of Esports/Strategic Partnerships at Jagex Game Studio
Rachel Rakowski-Gaskin has been working in the industry for eight years now, starting off as a composer for games before shifting across to esports – taking on audio engineering, camera operation, producing, script writing, graphic design and live events with numerous brands including Blizzard and F1 Esports.
“Rachel has championed esports within Jagex and is a driving force in changing the company and its games for the better,” said one supporter. “She is driven, talented and has brought a wealth of experience and ideas to the role”
Freelance Game Producer
Caoimhe Roddy has had a busy year, as well as supporting Chucklefish in releasing Apple Arcade title, Inmost, as their Producer, she won the Game Dev Heroes – Production award.She has also volunteered for the Girls Make Games workshops, an excellent cause that she also won awards for supporting – such as being our MCV Women in Games 2019 Mentor of the Year and the UK Games Fund Community Spirit Winner 2019. Caoimhe is also the director of Girls Game Labs and a Women in Games ambassador.
“Caoimhe is a strong-spirited, incredibly enthusiastic individual who is making some very exciting changes to the way that we can volunteer with young people in the UK games industry” said one supporter.
Unity Programmer and Freelancer
Hannah Rose has been working in the industry since 2015, having started out making educational games for young children. Following that, she worked on VR and AR projects,
before working on the multi-BAFTA award nominated Cultist Simulator. She is credited with mentoring gender minority people to get their first industry jobs, and uses her platform to boost other minorities, and make the games industry more accessible for all.
To quote one supporter: “Hannah is the epitome of ‘sending the lift back down’ – she’s constantly trying to help others who are similar to herself to get into the games industry. To be so open to help others in such trying times, it’s a quality to be admired.”
Producer & Host at Glass House Studios, founder of Level Up Link Up
Shay Thompson is a producer, host and activist in the games industry. A former host of Xbox Interactive, Shay has gone on to regularly host BAFTA panels, and become the face of both McLaren Esports and Glass House Studio. Her work at Glass House sees her producing, editing and hosting long-form editorials on video games, politics and everything in between.
She created Level Up Link Up, a networking event created to help bridge the gap between newcomers and established industry professionals in games; with the aim to bring more people of colour into the games industry. Level Up Link Up delivers tangible career advice, true in-industry representation and righteous activism that has led people into their first industry jobs, paired them with mentors and allowed them to express thoughts and feelings in an empathetic environment.
Senior Principal Programmer, Media Molecule
Having been hired out of university as Media Molecule’s first ever graduate hire, Liam de Valmency has spent the last five and a half years working on Dreams, the PS4 game that provides players with a suite of creative tools to make games, art, music,
His role on the project was to design and implement the creative tools, including artistic sculpting tools, animation tools and underlying systems, plus scene assembly and level design tools, which combined make up the foundation of the game’s creative possibilities. This level of responsibility led to him being made senior principal programmer in July of last year, just five years after starting as a junior.
Associate Producer at Lucid Games and Creative Director at PartyLlama Games
When Nareice Wint isn’t doing her day job as associate producer at Lucid Games, she’s working as creative director, producer, designer and level designer on her indie game, Pandora: Chains of Chaos, which she has been working on for three years while working simultaneously on original IPs at Lucid.
“Nareice is one of the most passionate individuals I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” said one of her supporters. “She is always travelling around the country, at great expense to herself to build her profile and promote whatever she is working on, be that Switchblade or Pandora alike. She has done many talks and gives back as much as she can to the development community.All the while maintaining an extremely positive and excitable personality.”
Joel Herber Mediatonic / Lewis Nicholson Electric Square / Piers Duplock Warp Digital Entertainment / Conor Clarke The National Videogame Museum / Adam Lavender Ubisoft Leamington / Becky Jowsey Supersolid / Hannah Watts Coatsink / Samuel Partridge Stave Studios / Bianca Iancu Freelance / Becky Mullen Bastion