I’ve been in the video games industry for more than 20 years
I spent 19 years living and working in America with my husband Lee, in New York City and Hollywood. Over there, we worked on global hits like Grand Theft Auto, Bioshock and Borderlands. Since the move, what we’ve found most compelling about Wales is the high level of ambition for the video gaming industry, and the access to finance that we’ve had. Whenever we need to, we can talk to the Welsh Government about the needs of the creative industries and about what it takes to grow a business. You just don’t get that elsewhere.
Wales has always felt like a second home
It’s where Lee grew up and we always visited several times a year, but we wanted to be closer to Lee’s family, who live all around South Wales. We came over on long trips, along with our son. He’d be overwhelmed with these friendly faces, then devastated when we left. So we had a family vote and made the decision to move. I’m from America’s East Coast and everyone here said ‘What about the weather?’ but I don’t make my life decisions based on climate. We swapped a swimming pool in the yard for horses out the back!
It’s great to be part of a living community
After 20 years of living in massive cities, we love being somewhere more relaxed and laid back. Rhiwderin, where we live, is a community of around 100 people. We know all our neighbours and can go to the local shop, have a coffee and bump into people we know.
We’re a very entrepreneurial family
My father-in-law purchased and expanded Whitehead Building Services, and two of my brothers-in-law created Tiny Rebel Brewery in Newport. It’s been exciting being here, where everyone’s starting businesses. There’s an ambition in the creative industries in Wales to produce all sorts of entertainment, whether it’s film, television, video games or multimedia. It’s supported by the universities. We are both visiting fellows at the University of South Wales, working with its video game programme. They’re helping to create opportunities for students in video game development in Wales, so they don’t have to move away to Bristol or London.
There’s a lot of talent in Wales
There are so many great people here already, in terms of comic book artists and writers, and we’re getting the message across that a video game doesn’t have to be made in Wales from beginning to end for Welsh creatives to be part of the project. The Welsh universities all have different core competencies, such as design, art, programming and engineering. Getting all those people collaborating with each other will go a long a way in pushing the entrepreneurial side of video game development here.
We want to get as many people as possible on board
Tiny Rebel Games is just the two of us, but we have a pool of local freelancers who we work with over and over again. On our most recent game, all the writing and arts were done in Wales. There’s a real focus in Wales’ video game industry on storytelling and narrative, providing an exciting opportunity to bring together people from different backgrounds to create something new and different. I think that’s a big part of the future.