Develop 30 Under 30 2017

Develop 30 Under 30 2017
March 13th 2017 at 11:30AM

This is the ninth time Develop has published a 30 Under 30 list and it’s been an absolute pleasure for us to do so. Thanks to the quantity and quality of nominations, this year’s list has been a very tough one to moderate.

We get nominees from all over the world, and from all areas of games development – production, design, art, community, audio and more. We’ve made the rules as simple as we can in order to highlight the best women and men in the industry under the age of thirty.

It sounds simple, but in reality it’s an incredibly difficult decision process. Because if you’ve been nominated then that means that you’ve done something. You’ve made an impact. Whether that’s a game release, outstanding work on a project, becoming an integral part of a team, creating your own studio or, as we’re seeing more and more, being a champion of advocacy – you’re making the games industry a better place.

This industry is working hard at an educational level to help guide and inform the developers of the future, talking at universities, schools and events, involving more and more practical experience and creating scholarships and programs for young people. 

One of the recurring themes of this year’s list is the work that is being done to help push the drive for new talent and diversity in our industry. We didn’t set out with that in mind, but it’s something that everyone in games is now, rightly, investing in – securing the future.

Catherine Woolley (29)

Game Design, The Chinese Room

Catherine is one of BAFTA’s Breakthrough Brits, has been listed three times by MCV as one of the top women in games and since 2009 has been a part of some of the UK’s biggest developers. From EA to Creative Assembly and now a senior designer at The Chinese Room, it’s a long overdue welcome for Catherine on Develop’s 30 Under 30 list. Also a committee member for BAFTA and a regular game jam participant, Catherine hasn’t stopped since graduating from the University of Wales, Newport in 2009. She has a “non- extinguishable passion for games” and her work as an ambassador for the industry is illuminating. She also rides a motorbike, which always adds +10 cool points to anyone. 

Callum MacArthur (29)

Assistant Technical Director, Ubisoft Singapore

Callum started his career working on the Driver Wii game at Ubisoft Reflections. He later decided to pursue his own thing and created some very popular Skyrim mods while searching for his next big opportunity. He eventually landed at Lionhead Studios, where he made a great impact. Working as the technical designer for Fable’s heroes and creatures, he proved that not only did he have a huge pool of knowledge for design but also for Unreal. He spent time being a prominent community member for Fable Legends and representing the game. After it’s cancellation and the closure of Lionhead he headed for Ubisoft Singapore where he is an assistant technical director. 

Melissa MacCoubrey (24)

Narrative Director, Ubisoft Quebec

Melissa’s roster of titles is an impressive read for any developer – Far Cry 4, Assassin’s Creed Syndicate and its DLC The Last Maharaja. If you add the fact that at 24, she’s already been twice nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award, then you can see how her addition to this year’s list is an easy decision to make. Currently a narrative director at Ubisoft Quebec, Melissa is now leading a team of narrative desigers for a new AAA project at the studio. In her nomination we were told that Melissa’s skills “are paired with a talent for inspiring others and a hunger for more diverse representation in games”. That always gets our support. 

Luke Botham (26)

Game Designer, The Illuminati Games

Luke joined Guerrilla Amsterdam following his stint at Sony Guerrilla Cambridge before even graduating from university. Following his graduation he continued his work on Horizon: Zero Dawn as a talented and passionate level designer. Since leaving the Guerrilla studios, Luke has been working at the front of the design team as a Game Designer at The Imaginati Studios Ltd. in London. Outside of his day-work he is one of the BAFTA Games Crew and has been a keen games jammer, winning a number of jams with his teams. Luke has spent a lot of time working on his own independent projects building his knowledge and skillset to become one of the most creative designers around. 

Adriana Pucciano (27)

Lead Animator, Creative Assembly

Six years ago Adriana joined Creative Assembly as a junior animator. Her career started at Disney where she worked on assets for 2010’s Split/Second by Black Rock Studios (a division of Disney Interactive). Since then she’s been a part of every one of Creative Assembly’s Total War releases including Total War Attila, Total War Warhammer and Total War Rome II. It has only taken Adriana two years to jump from junior animator to lead animator and her passion comes across in the nominations we have received. Adriana has been able to talk at various game expos and university as well and has a desire to help young people get inspired by the industry and the technology available to them. 

Hamish Lockwood (29)

Lead Designer, Playtonic Games

Hamish left Melbourne in 2012 to work at Curve Studios in London as a designer in 2012, working on Stealth Inc. and Stealth Inc. 2. He then went on to Funktronic Labs’ Nova-111, Mike Bithell’s Volume and Fiddlesticks’ Hue. Hamish then started at Playtonic Games in early 2016. After almost 5 years in the industry he’s now working on Yooka-Laylee. It a chance to help revitalise his favourite genre and learn from the developers of his favourite childhood games. His aim is to help Playtonic create games that will similarly make the kids of today become as passionate about gaming as he is. Working alongside industry veterans, Hamish’s experience will no doubt allow him to reach that goal. 

Steffie Garcia (29)

Art Team Lead, Marmalade Game Studio

Steffie is another person on this list who has risen from a junior to a leadership role in a short amount of time. From junior artist to team lead, Steffie has specialised in UI design and has become known as a “walking encyclopaedia of UI/UX best practices”. In the past six months alone her work has played a big part in Marmalade’s releases including the iOS and Android adaptation of Cluedo. She is also a “tireless champion for quality.” Steffie is also involved in the BAFTA Young Game Designers competition as a judge and is an advocate for getting more women into the industry, as well as taking an active role in the mentoring of Marmalade’s own junior talent. 

Ryan Harrison (26)

Technical Artist/Rigger, EA

Ryan has always pushed the boundaries and has been able to create things in his role that were not previously thought possible, including tools for Vicon Blade for automatically cleaning and exporting motion capture data. His career has been moving forward quickly, developing more and more advanced tools for Maya and MotionBuilder. He has also created some innovative motion capture tools and pipelines at The Imaginarium for titles such as Battlefield One and Final Fantasy XV, a far cry from his start in the industry three years ago as a QA tester for Rockstar. He’s currently building some “really awesome” rigging, skinning and pipeline tools at EA on a new project. 

Christina McGrath (28)

Senior Community Manager, Codemasters

Described as “creative, focused and witty(ish)”, Christina has been with Codemasters since 2015. It’s been a shift for the company where the focus on community feedback has been paramount in developing their most recent titles. With successful returns to the DiRT and F1 franchises, Christina is credited with “dramatically” improving Codemasters’ social presence. Starting in social media and now senior community manager, Christina has made great leaps, working across both the Southam and Birmingham offices and, despite only being in the industry for 14 months, we’re told has made it look “entirely effortless”. 

Adam Turnbull (29)

Animator, Riot Games

Adam is a super talented animator who continues to push himself. He’s a great team player and all round nice chap. Adam has worked on a bunch of games including RIGS on PSVR, AAA games like Horizon: Zero Dawn and smaller handheld titles like Mediatonic’s 1000 Tiny Claws. He also made two of his own android games using Unity, most recently Catball Bounce, and is constantly trying to help the animation community to grow via Twitter and forums like Polycount. His animation career has brought him from Middlesbrough to Cambridge and Adam will soon be relocating to California to take the next step of his career with the world- renowned Riot Games. 

Sally Blake (26)

Associate Producer, Ubisoft Reflections

Since starting her career in playtesting at Team17 back in 2010, Sally has taken on many challenges in her roles at Newcastle based Reflections. The Ubisoft studio has been working on many big franchises over the years, such as Just Dance, Watch Dogs and Tom Clancy’s The Division. Sally’s hard work has seen her progress from testing roles to becoming an associate producer. Not only responsible for engine, online, compliance and many other teams, she has also been a judge for TIGA and has been working with the Reflections & Baltic Uber gaming school in Newcastle to promote careers in games. Sally also runs a diversity course within the studio. 

Sam Browne (27)

Co-Founder and Developer, Three Knots

Sam is a member of the Warner bros. Creative Talent programme and a member of BAFTA Games Crew, and had an honourable mention in the Develop 30 Under 30 list in 2016. After graduating last year, he’s already been working as a junior designer on LEGO Dimensions for TT Games, spoken at many public events and at St Clare’s International College in Oxford. Sam has now decided to utilise his academic and practical experience from all of these programs to start up a new studio called Three Knots with a former NFTS colleague. According to our submissions, Sam is someone who “challenges convention”. We look forward to seeing what he’ll be up to next at Three Knots. 

Zoe Sams (23)

Tools Programmer, Rockstar North

Zoe has been at one of the world’s most celebrated developers, Rockstar North, for two years. After graduating from Bournemouth University in 2015, she stepped in to a junior tools programmer role and earned a promotion within a year of starting. Outside of her work, Zoe has also been voted on the board of directors for the Scottish IGDA and has worked with university students and schools to help others join the games industry through STEM. She may be busy, but Zoe always finds time for her friends and colleagues and has quickly become a “passionate and fantastic” role model for aspiring and experienced developers alike. 

Douglas Watson (29)

Lead Audio Designer, Playground Games

Douglas joined Playground Games in 2011 after graduating from the University of the West of Scotland with a First Class degree in Music Technology. His first title was the original Forza Horizon on Xbox 360 before working on Forza Horizon 2, where he was instrumental in developing new audio systems and processes. His first leadership role was on the best- selling Forza Horizon 3 and its award-winning Blizzard Mountain DLC expansion. Five years and three games since joining Playground, Douglas is now the lead audio designer and his passion and attention to detail for game sound is an inspiration to the team at Playground Games. 

Melissa Knox (29)

Producer, Blazing Griffin

We received several nominations for Melissa in this year’s 30 Under 30 list. One credited her impact upon joining Blazing Griffin as a producer, helping the production process of the studio. Another lauded the impact she has had on their own personal development. What is clear is that Melissa’s work has won the respect and admiration of her peers. With four games as well as a BAFTA award on the shelf, Melissa’s skills are also benefiting the growth of the industry. She is also an ambassador for UKIE, and the STEM ambassador program, as well as contributing her experience to Glasgow Caledonian University and being a part of BAFTA’s Games Crew team. 

Brian Cox (28)

UI Programmer, Ubisoft Shanghi

Brian is a UI & Gameplay Programmer and has already worked at some of the world’s top game development studios such as Rare and Creative Assembly. He has worked on and shipped games such as Kinect Sports Rivals, Rare Replay, Sea of Thieves and Halo Wars 2. On top of his office job he is also developing an indie game project called GlitchD. Brian likes to experiment with new technologies such as brain-controlled games and developing games to allow people with disabilities to play games. While at Rare he has created a game called JetPac Reborn for SpecialEffect, which you can play with only your eyes using eyetracking technology. 

Naomi Kotler (25)

Games Designer, Supermassive Games

Over the past few months you may have seen features from us on recruitment, including advice from studios about getting in to the industry. Naomi is one such example of someone who has excelled at just that. From working as an intern for Supermassive Games, she quickly impressed and is now a games designer at the studio. Naomi graduated from the National Film and Television School where she honed her talents at 3D modelling. Over the course Naomi developed a VR game called Into The Black, which received great acclaim from show floors and websites, as well as a nomination for a Unity Award. Naomi has already come far in a short amount of time. 

Thomas Miller (29)

Senior Build Engineer, Creative Assembly

Thomas Miller joined Creative Assembly as a QA Engineer, and has been a vital part of the console team’s release structure. He became senior build engineer after the success of Alien: Isolation, and is now a key part of shipping all the high-quality demos and releases of Halo Wars 2 that the public have been able to enjoy. When not merging and managing the team’s ocean of data you can find him brushing up on his own coding/ implementation skills to help tackle the team’s technical hurdles, while managing a growing force of build engineers. We hear he is also a dab hand at Magic the Gathering, and competes worldwide. 

Sitara Shefta (27)

Producer, Sumo Digital

Sitara’s six years in the industry started at EA, working on the Need for Speed franchise as a graduate producer. Her production skills saw her move to Sumo Digital where she’s been working as an associate and now producer on titles such as LittleBigPlanet 3, Disney Infinity and currently Dead Island 2.
But her work outside of development is just as impressive, being awarded the Women in Games hall of fame award, being an advocate of diversity in gaming and being part of the judging panel for both BAFTA’s Young Game Designer awards and the BAFTA Games awards. Sitara has spoken on many panels, not only about diversity of gender but also ethinic minorities in gaming. 

Adrian Lim (28)

Gameplay Programmer, Ubisoft Singapore

Having been in the game industry for more than ten years, Adrian Lim contributes his energy and insights to the Ubisoft team as a gameplay programmer. He brings invaluable experience and understanding of the industry from his experience at EA and Gambit MIT and was twice the finalist of the Independent Game Festival, Penny Arcade Top 10 and winner of DreamBuildPlay. He is currently spearheading a AAA project. Adrian has given multiple talks in conferences and schools, encouraging and mentoring students to pursue their interests in games. He continually upgrades himself and is currently pursuing a postgraduate degree, with hopes to be a technical pillar to make an impact on the games he produces. 

Laura Hutton (27)

Artist, Ubisoft Reflections

Laura has been a 3D Artist at Ubisoft Reflections for the past four years, working in different capacities across many projects. At the Newcastle studio she has worked on many titles including Grow Up, The Crew and Tom Clancy’s The Division to name a few. Laura has in fact been involved in a major AAA release each year for the past five years. Her career started for Ubisoft in India and, since returning to the UK, she’s been helping out in local education and organising many internal game jams for the studio. “Imbued with a keen passion,” she’s currently playing a key role in the development of Grow Up and looks to be adding to her list a sixth annual AAA release on the trot. 

Gavin Bird (28)

Graphic Designer, Ubisoft Montreal

Throughout his career Gavin has never stopped improving as an artist, working on a huge range of different projects across multiple platforms. From his work on UI at Crytek and Sony, he eventually became part of the core art team at Cloud Imperium where, as well as creating a lot of the in-game UI, he was the creator of the Big Benny franchise. Gavin most recently joined Ubisoft Montreal, taking on new challenges as part of the For Honor team. Friends and colleagues say they’ve seen Gavin exceed expectations everywhere that he’s worked, and that he is an incredibly hard working, talented and friendly individual, always quick to make friends with everyone that he meets. 

Anna Harakopoulos (28)

Founder and Director, NinetySix Games

Anna definitely has the most envy-inducing work location. She is currently workingon on her first solo title in Barbados and has started up a local chapter of IGDA. But her work history is equally as exotic.
Anna has worked for many companies and on multiple titles including
Company of Heroes 2 and Alien Isolation for SEGA, a 3DS Doctor Who title for Somethin’ Else and New Art Academy for Headstrong. Over the years Anna has given talks, including one at the University of Warwick, on getting into the industry, was nominated for the Campaigner award for the Women in Games Awards and was awarded a scholarship by the Diversity in Games Alliance. 

Richard Pring (29)

Co-Founder and Technical Director, Wales Interactive

Richard played a major role in kick-starting a significant sustainable video games industry in Wales by project managing the first Welsh video games hub, GamesLab Wales. He then went on to co-found Wales Interactive, which is now the leading video games studio in Wales, responsible for games such as Master Reboot, Soul Axiom, Coffin Dodgers and The Bunker. In the five years since he’s started Wales Interactive, he’s produced 21 titles with a team of 10, with plans to rise to 25 by the end of 2017. All told these titles have had over 40 awards and nominations including a BAFTA Cymru award, TIGA Games Industry Award and Develop Award nominations. 

Louise James (29)

Generic Evil Business Ltd

Louise is currently running Generic Evil Business Ltd, creating custom codes and assets. Though her efforts within the games industry go beyond that of being a code paramedic, hired to fix programming woes. Since her work adding the multiplayer elements to Plague Inc and designing the UI for The Swindle, she’s been busy building her company. Currently she’s working on porting more unnanounced games to current generation consoles and handhelds in a solo capacity. In addition to this, Louise has also set up in an effort to help address the lack of games that are aimed at or about gay women, and help the industry create more diverse games. 

Ross Wilding (29)

Senior Level Designer, Foundry42

Ross has spent the past eight years working in AAA game development. The first six of those were spent at Travellers’ Tales, where he worked on a number of LEGO games. Ross quickly moved from QA to design, where he established himself as a key member of the team, working his way up to lead level designer and level director. With a real passion to make the best games possible, Ross spent the next two years at Deep Silver’s Dambuster Studios as senior level designer, developing and aiding in the completion of Homefront: The Revolution. Ross now looks to his biggest role yet as senior level designer at Foundry 42 to work on the highly anticipated Star Citizen

Sally Kellaway (28)

Creative Director, Ossic

Sally has been doing excellent work on the other side of the world. Having helped to strengthen the VR industry in Australia by setting up VRCC, the Virtual Reality Content Creators network, she has helped to enable women find roles in the gaming industry, working to find and encourage people to develop for VR. Her work has also led to her role as creative director for 3D audio specialist Ossic. Working in and evangelising the VR and audio media has helped Sally to raise awareness of these areas as development possibilities for studios, and she’s been doing this by setting up specalist groups and meet ups, along with presenting a talk at GDC 2017. 

Darasimi Makinde (24)

Designer, Marmalade Game Studio

Darasimi joined Marmalade Game Studio straight from university and took to his new role instantly. His official role is designer and it’s said he has a fantastic instinct for good design, coupled with knowledge of the value of feedback and iteration. But Darasimi wears many different hats for Marmalade, which makes him incredibly flexible and valuable. His background is in coding, so he is able to jump in and get his hands dirty and he loves to be thrown in at the deep end so that he can learn new skills, whether it be prototyping or video editing. Thus far there doesn’t seem to be anything that Darasimi cannot turn his hand to, which assures Marmalade that he has a great future ahead of him. 

Rosa Carbo-Mascarell (24)

The Creative Industries Federation

Rosa’s list of achievements are already rather large. Starting in games in 2015 she started Lucid House, which won the MYGEOSS Innovative App Award from the European Commission for E-Sol. She has also worked as an artist for The Chinese Room helping create the island in Dear Esther and as a producer for VideoBrains, the London based video game talk event. She has also worked for GamesAid where she helped the charity raise nearly £1 million and organised many events including the Jam Jar for Global Game Jam and the Stand up for GamesAid event at the London Games Festival. Rosa was also recognised in the BAFTA Guru scheme as a rising star in 2016. 

Andy Booth (28)

Technical Director, d3t Ltd.

Andy has played a pivotal part in the growth of d3t and in d3t’s contribution to job creation and retention of talent within the North West. The studio now has nearly 40 full-time staff working on technology projects within the video games industry, and other technology sectors. Andy has led the recruitment process and established a committed team, which he leads by example. Andy was appointed technical director in 2015, is a technically brilliant programmer and adapts to different languages, engines, technologies and platforms at lightning speed. He is a superb mentor who shares his knowledge and demonstrates total commitment to his craft. 

Honourable Mentions

Dean Day – Greenlight Games, Jennifer Nordwall – Unity, Kieron Baker – Universally Speaking, Alix Briskham – Independent, David Jones – Bulkhead Interactive, Sarah York - Robot Zoo, Andrew Wiley – Red Kite Games, Giulia Zamboni - Gamera Interactive, Karin Bruér – Fast Travel Games, Joe Kinglake – Cloud Imperium Games, Anthea van Leeuwen – International University of Applied Sciences, Derek De Filippo, Monica Ion – Mediatonic, Mark Hastings – Guerilla Tea, Daniel Santos Fonseca – Stage Clear Studios, Rachel Cabot – University of Bath, Neil Jones – DeadArtGames, Abhisake Goyal – Yes Gnome Games, Attilio Carotenuto - Himeki Games, Andrew James Reid - Doctoral Researcher and Independent developer, Jack Hamilton – FuturLab, Connor Stanley - Trapped Nerve, Nareice Wint - Party Llama Games, Benjamin Robert - Libellud Digital, Cian McNabola – Wooga, Steven Taarland – Tag Games, Sean Oxspring – nDreams, Jey Kazi – Independent, Liam Wales – Catalyst Outsourcing, Elvira Lanzafame, Charles Gbadamosi – The Secret Police, Aran Anderson - Foundry42, James Earl Cox III - Seemingly Pointless, Lukas Roper – Opposable Games, Jordan Morris, Zac Howie-Brewerton - Pixel Blimp/Jamit Games. Michael Lojko, Vegard Polden, Oliver Hind, Ryan Philpott, Jamie Reid, Max Finch-Bretlaender, Emma Hall – Jagex, Jaime Cross – Blazing Griffin, Sam Bang – Frontier Developments, Angelika Bugl, Manuel Dupong, Mark Verkerk - Splash Damage, Gabriel Tay, Rika Lim, Brandon Chua, Carlos Verlee Vazquez, Jie Hui Ho, Adrian Quek, John Rickne, Quinn Choo, Heidi Kwang, Justin Chow, Fang Liang Lee, Boon Keng Goh – Ubisoft Singapore, Amin Sojoudi – Independent, Piers Duplock - eeGeo Ltd, Pavle Mihajlovic – Flavourworks, Tom Perry, Harry Gladwin Geoghan, Nick Elliot – Playground Games, Jamie Pendleton – Testology, Martin Skytte Kristensen - SYBO Games, Liam Charlton, Amelia Wood, Liam Mcglone, James Walton, Josh Heyde, Bryn Felton-Pitt – Ubisoft Reflections, John Common – CSR-Studios, Jarryd Huntley – Independent, Antony Wilkinson – TT Fusion, George Buckenham – Sensible Object, Gary Lloyd – Sigtrap Games, Steve Thornton – Sperasoft, Ashley Stancill – HyperSloth Ltd, Kitty Crawford – Blackstaff Games, Dominic Brittain, Robin Scannell – Hutch, Daryl Dundee, Ross Stephens, Jamie Keddie , David Clarke, Caroline Lepee, Noora Klaavu , Jamie Oates – Outplay Entertainment, Jessie Thomson – Cubic Motion, Oliver Jones - Glu Mobile, Amie McKenzie, Tom Sampson, Tauras Koreiva - Sumo Digital