Leamington Spa welcomes inaugural Interactive Futures games festival

Wednesday 29th of August 2018 01:17 PM

The UK is set to welcome a brand new games festival as Interactive Futures announces its inaugural event in early 2019. The event will be held in Leamington Spa, one of the UK’s largest games clusters outside of London, and will offer a range of sessions and opportunities across three days for games professionals, content creators and curators, game players and families.

Interactive Futures will bring together the creative and games communities to showcase the latest developments and opportunities, uncover career and industry insights and reveal new releases with a whole bundle of fun on the side. The event will celebrate the heritage and success of Leamington Spa’s games community, whilst also providing a platform for all UK based games professionals to gain industry insights, network and collaborate.

Known in the industry as “Silicon Spa”, the cluster employs over 2500 highly skilled individuals and equates to over 10% of the total UK games development workforce. The town has a history of over 30 years in the sector with local talent including key names such as Codemasters, SEGA and Ubisoft.

Among the first speakers to be announced is Dr Jo Twist, CEO of UKIE (Association for UK Interactive Entertainment), who will opening the conference on Friday 1 February, and Jordan Webber, who will be acting as Conference Chair throughout the event. A games journalist, often found in The Guardian or talking about games on The Gadget Show, Jordan is hugely passionate about both games and her adopted hometown of Leamington Spa.

“I spend a good deal of my time convincing people to come to Leamington, so this event is the perfect way to get lots of my friends, colleagues, and other people from the video game community to visit the best town in the world.”

Sessions across the event will focus on a range of key topics including accessibility, influencer marketing, project post mortems, diversification in talent, breaking into the industry, staying safe online and upcoming new releases. With influencer marketing a current hot topic, we’ll be discussing how companies can use this to their advantage in promoting their releases. Friday’s influencer session will see Rich Keith, Managing Director of influencer management company, Fourth Floor Creative, and James Day, Head of Social Media at Jagex, discuss their top tips for engaging influencers and how the marketing landscape is changing.

Another key topic at the event will be accessibility in games. Joining the panel discussions will be Playstation’s accessibility specialist, Mark Friend alongside Barrie Ellis from games accessibility charity, Special Effect, accessible games designer at Midoki, Lynsey Graham and specialist accessibility consultant, Ian Hamilton.

For those looking to start their career in the industry there will be a range of experts available to help you on your way. Nick Duncombe, Resource Manager at Playground Games, the team behind the Forza Horizon series, will be discussing routes into the industry alongside the likes of DJ Hero co-creator, Alex Darby, and e-sports presenter and influencer Elle Osili-Woods. If you fancy yourself as a games journalist or the next big influencer, then sessions with freelance journalist Alysia Judge and CMO of influencer platform, Matchmade, Heini Vesander, will be sure to help attendees get started.

The event is backed by Warwickshire County Council, Warwick District Council and Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, who remain incredibly proud of Leamington Spa’s standing within the UK games industry.

Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Leader of Warwickshire County Council said:  "We look forward to welcoming the Interactive Futures games festival next year. It provides an excellent opportunity to showcase the world-class talent we have in the region, and really puts Warwickshire on the map as a destination to develop a career in this fast-moving industry.

"We are proud to be the home of Silicon Spa which plays such a key role in our thriving economy. The range of activities planned will appeal to a wide audience from games developers to young gaming enthusiasts, and we are confident it will become a flagship event in the UK gaming calendar."

Sarah Windrum, CEO of Leamington-based IT and communications company the Emerald Group, and chair of the CWLEP’s Digital Creative Business Group, said: “This is a really exciting initiative and underlines Coventry and Warwickshire’s global significance in the digital and creative sector.

“The festival will be a fantastic opportunity to hear from leading experts in an industry which goes from strength to strength, particularly here in Coventry and Warwickshire.”

Cllr Andrew Mobbs, Leader of Warwick District Council, added: “Hosting this unique event in Leamington Spa, created by industry professionals is a watershed moment for our district. Our ‘Silicon Spa’ games cluster is already the third largest in the UK and this is a wonderful opportunity to promote further our presence and expertise in such a crucial sector.

“ I am therefore immensely proud that we are hosting this inaugural festival, which I hope will bring the talented and innovative people working in our local games industry the national and international recognition they deserve. This event isn’t just about games, but also about the importance of games design and technology to other sectors such as the automotive, healthcare and arts or even in your own home, so there will really will be something for everybody.”

Nick Harper, from Exient Studios, commented: “Our Silicon Spa businesses are key to the thriving games market in the UK and display the wealth of talent that lies across the country in this sector. Interactive Futures is the perfect way for us to celebrate this talent and success and will allow us to welcome those from outside the area to see what we have to offer.”

As well as the conference programme visitors to Interactive Futures can immerse themselves in the Talent Expo, featuring a range of companies showcasing new releases and opportunities throughout the event, as well as a range of soon to be announced Fringe events around the town.

Interactive Futures will take place at the Royal Spa Centre on Friday 1 and Saturday 2 February and will be preceded by an academic conference for  colleges and universities on Thursday 31st January.

Tickets for the event are on sale now from www.interactive-futures.com with Friday 1 February providing an industry specific focus and Saturday 2 February open to all families, students and active gamers. You can also follow the event on social media @int_futures on Twitter and @interactive_futures on Instagram.