mcv/develop 30 under 30

MCV/DEVELOP’s 30 Under 30 2021

Welcome to this year’s 30 Under 30, where we highlight the best young talent in the industry, selected based on your glowing testimonies. But before you delve down into this year’s list, here’s some words from a couple of the people that made it happen.

“Partnering with the 30 Under 30 has always felt natural to us, attracting and retaining the next generation of talent is important to the long-term success of the games industry.

It’s where the industry’s future ideas, innovation, inspiration & leaders will all come from. That is why we are so proud to be supporting this initiative, which identifies and celebrates the younger players within the industry – and showcases their contribution so far. Congratulations to you all!”

Kim Parker, founder and MD, OPMJobs

 

“This year we’ve once again been inundated with entries for 30 Under 30. With nearly 15 entries for every place awarded. If you’ve made it onto these pages then congratulations, if you didn’t then don’t feel bad. It was really tough, and do please apply again in future. This year’s entries were more numerous than usual, likely because all our opportunities to be ‘seen’ by the broader industry have been so massively curtailed by the pandemic. We sincerely hope to once again see you all out and about in the coming months.”

Seth Barton, Editor, MCV/DEVELOP

ART & ANIMATION 

SUPPORTED BY FIRESPRITE

“A massive congratulations to the nominees from all of us here at Firesprite. It’s great to see such incredible talent coming through in the UK games industry.” – Lee Carus, Studio Art Director 

 

Jordan Moss

Senior Hardsurface Artist, Creative Assembly

Despite only graduating in 2017, Jordan Moss has already made his mark on our industry, having begun his career at Splash Damage before joining Creative Assembly, where is working on its new FPS IP.

“He is a senior level artist and brings creativity to his art and technical expertise as if he’d been in the industry a decade,” said a supporter. “Jordan has such a ‘can do’ attitude being easy to work with and flexible which, alongside his artistic prowess and technical expertise makes him an ideal candidate for the 30 Under 30 awards.”

 

 

Luciana Nascimento

Art Director and Co-founder, Bunnyhug

After coming to the UK from Brazil with “nothing but herself and her dog,” Luciana Nascimento got her first job in the country working at Chucklefish and leading their art team for Wargroove. A couple years later she went on to co-found Bunnyhug while simultaneously working on the illustrations for Ustwo’s Assemble with Care.

She’s been acknowledged by MCV in the past too, going home with the Creative Impact of the Year Award at the 2019 Women in Games Awards.

“With her debut game being announced soon, you’ll see the amazing world she’s managed to orchestrate all on her own,” said a supporter.

 

Sophie North

Concept Artist, Mediatonic

If you’ve ever admired the characters and costumes in Mediatonic’s smash-hit title Fall Guys: Ultimate Knockout, you might well have experienced Sophie North’s excellent work. Joining the project post-launch, her Santa and season 4 costumes have been featured centre stage in the game’s CGI trailers. Outside of her work, she has also been part of the Momentum mural project to decorate bathrooms in childrens’ hospitals.

“Every project she touches flourishes by her influence,” said one supporter. “Mediatonic and the industry are very lucky to have an artist – and person – of her caliber.”

COMMUNITY & EVENTS

 

Eltanin Casciani

Communications & Community Lead, Team Junkfish

Eltanin Casciani has had quite the meteoric rise at Junkfish, progressing from an intern to head of communications in under a year. During their time at Junkfish, Casciani has grown the Discord server by 400 per cent, won Junkfish its first-ever award (UK Game of the Show) and even raised £15k for homeless charity Shelter over the Christmas period.

Casciani is also credited for ensuring that Junkfish’s games are fully inclusive, namely by including binder options for AMAB characters.

“I believe El is a fantastic candidate as they are constantly working to improve the culture in the games industry and connect people to each other,” said one supporter.

 

Chris Filip (Rares Chirita)

Event Coordinator, Payload Studios

Rares Chirita (also known as Chris Filip) has a truly absurd number of cheerleaders in the industry. And it’s no wonder, as he’s the co-founder of Games Anglia and event coordinator of the Tentacle Zone.

Filip’s supporters credit him as a hard-working, proactive and skilled promoter, supporter, and nurturer of our industry. Through his work at Game Anglia, Filip helps the people in the East of England to get access to opportunities which may otherwise have passed them by.

Since the COVID-19 outbreak, he has worked tirelessly to help organise 60+ events for Tentacle Zone residents, with topics ranging from mental health to remote production, and welcomed over 600 game devs to online public events. In fact, Filip does so much work in this industry that we barely have space to fit it all in here. Needless to say, he’s very deserving of a spot on this list, as his hordes of supporters would surely agree.

 

Amy Mallett

Branded Content Manager, IGN

In just two and-a-half years at IGN, Amy Mallett has managed over 60 successful sponsored content campaigns for publishing giants such as Bethesda, Activision, Square Enix, and Ubisoft. “Amy pitches, produces, creates, voices and stars,” said one of her supporters. Her commitment to her work saw her even converting her two-bed flat into a studio to shoot a PC build video for ASUS – which has gone down a storm with IGN’s audience.

To hear her supporters tell it, “her ideas consistently push the boundaries of creativity, and her commitment to every project is unwavering.”

DEVELOPMENT & DESIGN

 

Nida Ahmad

UX Designer, Netspeak Games

Nida Ahmad’s first role in the industry was at Exient Leamington as a UX & game designer, where she was promoted from intern to full time within a year. She’s now at NetspeakGames, working on a “wholesome, non-violent MMO” as the team’s only UX designer.

Outside of her work, Ahmad is one of the founding members of PoC in Play, an organisation that works to increase the visibility, inclusion and retention of PoC in the games industry.

“There’s a fundamental empathy core to all of Nida’s work,” said one supporter. “She not only wishes for games to be for all, she has the skills and willingness to find out what is keeping people out and address that.”

 

Danny Hey

Music Composer & Sound Designer, Team17 Digital

Since joining Team17 back in April 2018, Danny has consistently provided inspiring audio for hit games such as Worms, Overcooked! 2, and Moving Out.

Last year, Danny worked on The Survivalists, composing the soundtrack and creating an audio system to drive the music in-game. The game’s soundtrack was warmly received by fans and the media alike, and was nominated for ‘Best Soundtrack’ at the Steam Awards.

“Danny’s talent and hard work shine through in everything he creates, and there is no doubt he will continue to have great success in games,” said one sponsor.

 

Sarah Longthorne

Narrative Designer, Sumo Digital – Nottingham Studio

The majority of Sarah Longthorne’s work over the past year has been as a narrative designer on a triple-A title based on one of the “world’s best known and best-loved fantasy franchises,” with Longthorne’s role making up a crucial part of the game’s development.

Outside of her work at Sumo, she regularly gives talks and workshops at local universities, and works tirelessly to help others enter the industry, and to make minority voices heard.

“I believe she will not only be involved in many more great games but also become a leading voice to make our industry a better, more representative place,” said one sponsor.

 

Christopher Andrew McGerr

Game Designer, TT Games Studios

After making fanfiction games in RPG Maker XP as a teenager, Christopher Andrew McGerr pursued a career in games, joining TT Games as a junior designer in 2015, before quickly moving up to the role of designer.

During his time at TT Games, McGerr worked with over eleven distinct license holders, bringing life to their LEGO forms, and writing and designing content based around multiple beloved characters such as the cast of Teen Titans Go and many of DC’s most notorious super-villains

McGerr is also a member of TT’s Equality and Diversity Group, having come from a working-class background and is eager to help to diversify the overwhelmingly middle-class background in the industry

 

Elizabeth (Ziz) Simoens

Game Designer, PRELOADED

Elizabeth Simoens (also known as Ziz) joined the games industry six years ago as a game designer, and has over 20 commercially shipped games under her belt – across PC, mobile, VR, AR, street games, audio-only games and even installed games in both museums and raves. Simoens has worked for a number of studios over the years, such as Fire Hazard, Thunkd, Int/Night and most recently at PRELOADED.

She comes highly recommended by all studios, with one telling us: “She is committed to game design in all its forms – and doesn’t pigeon hole herself or player experiences. I know that she has a bright future ahead of her.”

 

 

Ben Heapy

IT Manager, Payload Studios

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ben Heapy was instrumental in ensuring that the Payload team were able to transition to fully remote working within just 24 hours. A tall order, and one that Heapy managed under huge amounts of pressure and in the face of unprecedented challenges.

Heapy’s enthusiasm and love of games, as well as his knowledge and expertise have seen him make a big impact across Payload, well beyond the areas traditionally associated with IT, and he has had valuable input in the development of the studios’ projects.

“Ben has had a massively positive impact on the studio as whole, and we feel very fortunate to have him on the team” said a supporter.

MARKETING & COMMS

 

Conor Clarke

Marketing and Comms Officer, National Videogame Museum and the BGI

The past year has been difficult for the BGI charity and its National Videogame Museum, and Conor Clarke has played a pivotal role in ensuring they survive. After the museum closed in March 2020, Clarke played a key role in its fundraising efforts, helping launch a successful campaign that grew far beyond its initial JustGiving Campaign.

As the pandemic continued, Clarke was instrumental in keeping momentum going through livestreaming, video production and promoting a range of games content which won the museum its first award: Best website activity from Kids in Museums Awards.

 

Heather Dower

Founder and CEO, Hotdrop

Heather Dower is the founder and CEO of Hotdrop, a rapidly growing gaming and esports creative marketing agency. Under Dower’s leadership, Hodrop has secured major clients from its inception, allowing the agency to generate revenue that exceeded its year three targets in its first year, and expanding the team from one to ten full time employees within twelve months.

“Heather has pushed the industry forward on a national level,” said one of her supporters, “leading the marketing efforts of the UK’s first ever Valve Major event, ESL One Birmingham, and led similar efforts on a global scale.”

 

 

Pip Hoskins

Marketing Lead, No More Robots

Pip Hoskins was the very first hire at No More Robots, just 9 months into the life of the publisher. No More Robots has gone on to see considerable success, and her nominees credit her work for much of this.

Hoskins wears many hats in her work, managing the publisher’s “crazy Discord shenanigans,” scrutinising every No More Robots game to ensure they are as accessible as possible, constantly checking in with members of staff and much more. Above all that, she is credited for being a big reason why the publisher is 50 per cent women, 25 per cent POC, and 38 per cent LGBTQ

No wonder why her supporters “can’t think of someone who deserves being on this list more.”

 

Katie Laurence

UK Comms Manager, Ubisoft

Katie Laurence, a recent finalist in the MCV/DEVELOP Women in Games Awards, immediately impressed Ubisoft upon joining – earning her promotion to communications manager in just two years at the company. Laurence’s success at the company will see her managing some of the company’s biggest triple-A campaigns, such as the upcoming Far Cry 6.

On top of her work, she is also dedicating time to studying a Masters in Marketing at Glasgow University, in the hopes of one day becoming a marketing director in the future, and according to one of her many sponsors, “there’s nothing stopping her.”

Develop JobsAnd if you’re looking to hire the best young talent then consider taking part in our DEVELOP JOBS supplement in June. See here for more details. 

Booking deadline is the 14th of May – get in contact with alex.boucher@biz-media.co.uk

PR & MEDIA

 

Hirun Cryer

Freelance Reporter, GamesRadar

Hirun Cryer is credited as one of games journalism’s brightest up and comers. Credited for his hard work and professionalism, Cryer is a rising voice in games journalism.

His supporters praise his work at the (sadly departed) USGamer as being a defining feature of the site, and he has since gone on to work for GamesRadar on a freelance basis.

 

 

Izzy Jagan

Jr. Global PR Manager, Square Enix

After repeatedly making our honourable mentions, Izzy Jagan has won her spot in our 30 under 30 list. During her career, Jagan has gotten to work behind some of the industry’s biggest titles, such as World of Warcraft, Pokemon GO, Candy Crush, and most recently Life is Strange.

Outside of her job, she has spoken extensively on panels and events about being a young queer woman of colour in the industry for organisations such as Black Girl Gamers, EGX, MCM Comic Con, London Gaymers, and Out Making Games.

“Her advocacy for LQBTQ people and people of colour in games generally is really inspiring and a great example to everyone,” to quote one of her many supporters.

 

Becky Mullen

Account Director, Bastion

Having joined Bastion in 2017, Becky Mullen has gone on to become an integral part of the agency’s growth over the last four years.

Mullen has taken to her leadership role “like a duck to water,” inspiring and motivating the Bastion teams with her passion for games and knowledge of the media landscape.

Additionally, as communications lead on Ustwo Games and State of Play, in the last year Mullen has launched critically acclaimed indie titles Assemble with Care, Alba: A Wildlife Adventure and South of the Circle.

“Becky is a talented and diligent communications professional who thrives in the rigours of a fast-paced agency and displays daily insight and leadership skills that are rarely seen in execs under 30,” said a supporter.

 

Paul Stone

Senior Account Manager, Indigo Pearl UK

Paul Stone first ran across Indigo Pearl at Rezzed in 2015, when he was attending as a consumer. The team were so impressed by his enthusiasm that they felt they had to give him a job. Since then he has become an important member of the Indigo Pearl team, and was instrumental in the PlayStation 5 launch with his help distributing all PlayStation announcements and their first-party game keys to media around the globe.

Or to put it a little less kindly, as one of his nominees did, “I’m desperate to get him included this year as he’s not getting any younger!”

PRODUCT & CHANNEL

 

Megan Garrett

Commercial Manager, Genba Digital

Megan Garrett has built up extensive experience at some of the biggest names in gaming, ever since she graduated from London South Bank University.

Garrett has held commercial positions at Activision and Sega, where she helped launch award-winning titles such as Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Total War: Warhammer. She’s now at Genba Digital, helping to grow some of its biggest triple-A accounts.

To quote one of her supporters, Garrett is “an energetic, skilled young exec who will contribute to a successful future for the UK games industry.”

 

Neal McCann

Product Marketing Manager, Sony Interactive Entertainment

Neal McCann began his career at Playstation UK in 2014, after winning a highly sought-after university placement. Since then he has worked his way up through the ranks, and has been behind a number of the company’s biggest moves.

McCann played an instrumental part in the PlayStation 5 UK launch, including the development and execution of the partnership with TfL – which saw the London Underground roundels changed into the iconic PlayStation brand shapes.

“Neal is an incredibly promising talent for the future,” said one of his supporters, “and certainly one to watch.”

 

Kamil Przybyla

Head of Fraud & Payments, Green Man Gaming

When Green Man Gaming took on a summer graduate for 8 weeks back in 2012, they had no idea that Kamil Przybyla would go on to be such a vital member of the team for years to come.

Originally joining with no prior experience, Przybyla has devoted his time to developing his skills, and embraces new challenges within the company.

It’s this drive for self-development that inspired his supporters, with one saying to us that “Kamil is one of the best and embraces all of the positive, and yet is humble enough to know and work on his weaknesses.”

PRODUCTION & MANAGEMENT

 

Hannah Bradshaw

Senior Production Coordinator, Rockstar North

Hannah Bradshaw has spent almost five years now with Rockstar North, and has routinely impressed the world-famous studio. She’s been promoted multiple times throughout her career, after joining the company in 2016 as a QA tester.

Bradshaw has also impressed the industry outside of Rockstar, and was in 2020 was listed as one of the POC In Play #BHMGames100.

“Hannah is a passionate voice for the celebration and inclusion of voices of colour in the games industry. She cares deeply about her work and the human aspect of game creation, inspiring both her colleagues and her friends,” said one supporter.

 

David Jones

Associate Producer, Deep Silver Dambuster Studios

David Jones has quickly worked his way up through the ranks in the games industry, having begun his career in 2013 as a QA tester for Rockstar Games.

Joining Dambuster with no previous production experience, he has since impressed the company so much that he was promoted to associate engineering producer, working with one of the most integral departments in the studio with a responsibility for 45 members of staff.

“David’s ability to go from zero to hero despite everything life has thrown at him is testament to how hard work can pay off, how important it is to believe in yourself, believe in your dreams and never give up,” said one supporter.

 

Adam Da Rocha

Co-Founder, Jaw Drop Games

As Operations Manager at Toxic Games, Adam Da Rocha played a crucial role in the self-publishing of the award-winning puzzle game, Q.U.B.E. 2 – on top of directing and producing the game’s two DLC releases. He then went on to secure business deals for the game, with the likes of Epic Games, Twitch Prime and Xbox.

Over the past year he has co-founded Jaw Drop Games and has already secured major platform deals and significant publisher investment for the studio’s two new games, Gun Jam and Deathground.

 

 

Vicky Potts

Co-Founder, Whitepot Studios

Vicky co-founded indie studio Whitepot Studios in 2016, and recently the Whitepot team secured nominations in the Best Game, Best Studio, and Best Art Direction categories at the 2021 NI Game Dev Awards.

Additionally, she works to support the Northern Irish games dev community by volunteering her time to act as a game jam mentor at Jamfuser and to help NI Screen with the remote interview process for their technical skills development programme.

“Overall, I feel Vicky is a passionate game developer and a driving force for the local industry, consistently making time to help out new talent or to grow the Northern Irish game dev scene,” said one sponsor.

TECH & PROGRAMMING

SUPPORTED BY SHARKMOB

“30 under 30 is a great way to recognize rising stars in the industry and we of course hope some of them will take the opportunity to join our adventure at Sharkmob” – Fredrik Rundqvist – CEO Sharkmob

“We’re really happy to support the Tech and Programming category and can see that videogames have a bright future with this talented generation of game developers.” – James Dobrowski – MD Sharkmob London

 

Joe Alam

Lead Programmer, Sumo Digital – Nottingham Studio

Sumo Digital first recognised Joe Alam’s potential several years ago, when he was whisked away from work on a racing game project and assigned to the Hotshot Racing as lead programmer – a game that
went on to be warmly received by critics.

“His fantastic technical knowledge, superb communication skills and foresight make him such a valuable member of the team” said a supporter. “It is hard to put into words how easy it is working with Joe on your team.”

 

 

Sofie Debloudts

Software Engineer, Netspeak Games

After moving to the UK, Sofie Debloudts began her games career at Brighton’s Studio Gobo in 2014, and has taken great strides in her self-development. Debloudts returned to university to study for her MSc in Artificial Intelligence in 2017, juggling her work there with her career at Criterion Games.

Now at Netspeak, Debloudts is developing her leadership skills, as a feature team lead.

“As a leader she is learning, driven & capable,” said one supporter. “As a person, she is fantastic. Definitely a future industry thought leader, diversity representative & role model.”

 

Bradley Pollard

Lead Programmer, Frontier Developments

Bradley Pollard first joined Frontier Developments back in 2014, as an intern programmer on ScreamRide. However, he proved himself so reliable that he became an integral part of the team, and following his second internship he left with a guaranteed job offer, returning as a graduate programmer.

Since then he has continued to impress through his work on Planet Coaster, Jurassic World Evolution and Planet Zoo, developing key gameplay features to a high standard – Setting him on course to work his way up through the ranks to senior programmer in just four years.

“Brad is an inspiration for anyone that wants to excel in the games industry,” said one of his supporters.

Honourable Mentions

 

Alex Beddows, Counterplay Games  /  Hollie Newsham Lucid Games Ltd  /  Ryan Shepheard PlayStation London Studio  Dami Nuga Ubisoft Reflections  /  Mark Storey  DPS Games  /  Alice Winter Playground Games  / Abigail Flores Square Enix  / Samantha Luzon  Payload Studios  /  Hannah Watts Ubisoft Reflections  /  Ruth Caulcott-Cooper The Chinese Room  Laura Martin Digital Schoolhouse (Ukie) / Samuel Read Enterprise M3  / Samuel Roberts DoubleJump Ltd / Lisa Baxter Assembly Inc, Edelman / Matthew Clements Neonhive / Jade Lee King TheGamer / Anton Korubov Payload Studios / Chloe Sinclair Firesprite / Tom Lavelle Click Entertainment / Lucy Hale Square Enix External Studios / Joe Kinglake Sumo Digital

And a huge thanks to MCV/DEVELOP’s Chris Wallace who has put in an immense amount of work collating the insane number of entries this year, corralling them all into some kind of order, and writing the words you see here.

About Chris Wallace

Chris is MCV/DEVELOP's staff writer, joining the team after graduating from Cardiff University with a Master's degree in Magazine Journalism. He can regrettably be found on Twitter at @wallacec42, where he mostly explores his obsession with the Life is Strange series, for which he refuses to apologise.

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