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Global Gaming

Global Gaming

According to analysts the global video games industry was worth a cool $108bn in 2017 and is continuing to grow, generating far greater sums than the film industry for example. Ryan Neal (English Studies, 2010) and Andy Wilson (Computer Sciences, 2001) explain how to hit the jackpot when creating a global computer game.

Compared to Andy Wilson, Vice President of Development at Hangar 13, my experience in the video game industry is akin to completing the control tutorial in Portal 2. That said, aside from both being University of Nottingham alumni, what we do have in common is the fact that we both left the UK for jobs in the video game industry – an industry where international relocation is a common career trajectory. Our conversation soon turns to the global nature of video games.


A graphic of Andy WIlson

Player One:

Name: Andy Wilson
Course: Computer Science
Hall: Lenton and Wortley
Graduated: 2001
Favourite place in Nottingham: Wollaton Park
Favourite games: Gunstar Heroes, Sonic the Hedgehog 2


A graphic of Ryan Neal

Player Two:

Name: Ryan Neal
Course: English Studies
Hall: Hugh Stewart
Graduated: 2010
Favourite place in Nottingham: Ye Olde Salutation Inn
Favourite games: Tomb Raider II, Dungeon Keeper 


“It’s in all our interests to be more global and try and open up those markets,” says Andy. “Developers are thinking ever more globally to ensure that they’re building games they really want to make but they’re doing it in ways that can give them access to an audience potentially of billions.” 

Trying to reach a culturally diverse global market with one product poses a dilemma. Should developers compromise their creative vision to reach global markets, or compromise their market reach to preserve their creative vision?

“I can tell you right now that we, with our current game, are not planning to make dramatic changes on a territory-by-territory basis. It’s more a case of, as the game develops, is there an opportunity to market it at all there and, if we did, are there any changes we would need to make and are those changes palatable to us creatively?”

Having worked in video game localisation, I know first-hand how professional localisation can level up a developer’s market presence, while cutting corners can spell game over. 

“There are always risks because you can accidentally be culturally insensitive. We’ll look to our localisation partners to tell us where something doesn’t look or feel right or if anything is offensive. Mistakes in any language can make an entire country of potential fans feel like they’re an afterthought to you or that you didn’t care about them.” 

It's in all our interests to try to be more global. Developers are thinking ever more globally to ensure they're building games that can give them an audience potentially of billions.

There is no cheat code to bypass the challenge of creating global games and it’s spawned an entire sub-industry. Localisation experts are sought after to translate the game; record dialogue; advise on cultural perspectives, nuances and sensitivities; consult on design; and to help developers reach markets they do not have direct access to. But Andy is keen to emphasise that these aren’t the only alternative routes into the video game industry.

“One thing I had shown an aptitude for was project management and some of the modules on my computer science course where I excelled were in group work, where I was the organiser, so I realised that production and project management was a route that was most interesting to me.”

He’s keen not to overlook the value of transferrable skills. “We’ve got all the ancillary support, the IT support, HR and recruitment teams and we’ve just appointed an office manager at Brighton, who’s got to do the lease and contract negotiation, and work with an interior designer to fit-out that studio.”

As our conversation nears an end, we return once more to the professional opportunities that moving abroad has unlocked for us. I ask Andy if he thinks studying or working abroad would be an asset to anyone looking to enter the video game industry.

“Yes, definitely. But don’t just travel. Do something meaningful with it that is going to show that you have a skillset, something as simple as travelling abroad to work in a deprived community, design and project manage the building of a school, that type of thing so that you show that you’re starting to build a skillset which will translate to the world of work. Every time I’ve made a leap of faith it’s driven me on to better things.”

Ryan NealWords: Ryan Neal, Contributor

Ryan has had a varied career spanning multilingual digital marketing, video game localisation, travel copywriting and communications. He has been the University's Student Communications Officer since 2016.