Eight BAME-background talents from the games industry have been selected for the London Games Festival’s yearly 2020 Ensemble showcase.
Ensemble, supported by the British Council, highlights the significant contribution BAME creatives have made to the UK’s games culture at every level, focusing on eight games creatives and delving into their work.
The selected professionals were unveiled today, at the opening of London Games Festival 2020, which runs 26 March to 6 April and has been switched to a digital only event in the light of nationwide measures to contain the spread COVID-19.
Ensemble launched in 2018 and has since been a tentpole moment in the annual festival, helping change perceptions around games creation in the UK. It runs as a year-round programme and later this year will be turned into a physical exhibition across a range of locations.
The eight creatives selected for 2020 are:
Abubakar Salim, Actor/Producer: Abubakar was BAFTA-nominated for his leading performance in Assassin’s Creed Origins and has recently been cast as one of the leads in Ridley Scott’s TV directing debut, Raised By Wolves. He is about to open his own game studio and production company.
Adrian Hon, CEO, Six To Start: Adrian studied neuroscience and experimental psychology at Cambridge and Oxford before forming Six To Start in 2007, leading design on the groundbreaking fitness adventure game Zombies, Run!
Catherine Unger, 2D Artist/ Art Director: Catherine is a freelance artist who has worked for notable games developers such as Nintendo, State of Play and Broken Rules. She also worked on SFB Games’ Tangle Tower, which is nominated for a BAFTA Games Award this year.
Corey Brotherson, Writer, editor and creative consultant: Crafting and guiding content and fiction across mediums including games, comics and TV, Corey has also been a content producer for PlayStation Europe for over a decade, working on 100s of titles such as Horizon Zero Dawn and Dreams. He is currently co-writing his first game, Windrush Tales.
Elle Osili-Wood, Video game presenter/voice actor: Elle started as a political broadcast journalist before going freelance to cover games, where she became Editor and Presenter for PlayStation Access. She is now Editor-in-Chief for Glass House Games and and is presenting video game content for the BBC.
Nida Ahmad, UX Designer/Researcher: Nida has been working on mobile games, integrating scientific user research and UX processes to advocate for accessible and player-centered design. She previously contributed to Angry Birds Go! and Warhammer Combat Cards and is currently working at Netspeak Games on a social MMO. She is also on the founding team for POC In Play, a racial inclusion initiative.
Nihal Tharoor, Interactive writer, Electric Noir Studios: Nihal was working for top advertising agencies when he quit to form a game studio and create the interactive crime drama, Dead Man’s Phone. The app is nominated for a BAFTA this year. Season 1 of Dead Man’s Phone features a story that confronts themes of police profiling and racism in modern Britain.
Rosemary Buahin, Games Category Lead, Xbox: Rosemary started out in games as International Sales Co-ordinator for Eidos, and has since worked at Warner Brothers, PlayStation and Curve Digital. She is now Games Category Lead for Xbox, Vice Chair of BAME in Games and a board trustee for Into Games.
Striking portrait photos and profiles go live today accompanied by an in-depth feature from media partner Evening Standard – a short video documentary about the eight will go live later during the festival at games.london/ensemble2020
The eight were selected by curator Sharna Jackson plus a dedicated steering group of BAME representatives from across the UK video games and interactive sector.
Jackson herself is a leading BAME figure in the games and creative industries, publishing her first multi-award-nominated children’s book High Rise Mystery in 2019 – its sequel Mic Drop arrives this month. She is also artistic director of Site Gallery in Sheffield.
Jackson said: “I’m so proud to curate the third edition of Ensemble and bring focus to eight more shining stars who are helping make the UK games industry the best in the world. Ensemble aims to inspire the next generation of game developers from all backgrounds, offering a fresh angle on game development as a creative process. It will also showcase how diverse talents and perspectives are vital for building more diverse digital worlds and creating the games of the future.”
Striking portraits of each artist have been taken for the exhibition by photographer Joshua Fray, which will be made available online at www.games.london alongside the documentary. A full Ensemble exhibition featuring these portraits plus career histories and the documentary will be announced later in the year – with expected sites to include outdoor spaces in the City of London, Somerset House, City Hall and more.
The exhibition will also be available to feature at other UK locations – potential hosts and partners are welcome to contact firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more about ways to support and take part in the programme.
Ensemble is further supported by the British Council, the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities.
Ensemble is just one aspect of the London Games Festival, which features a mix of activity for consumers and industry professionals. The programme can be found at www.games.london.
London Games Festival is backed by theMayor of London with funding of £1.2m over three years and seeks to make London the games capital of the world. It is delivered by Games London, an initiative from Film London, the capital’s screen industries agency, and video games trade body Ukie (The Association for UK Interactive Entertainment).