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Ukie Board Election 2021 - Meet the Candidates

Ukie Board Election 2021 - Meet the Candidates

Voting is now open for the 2021 Ukie Board election. All of the candidates for election are listed below, alongside their personal statement explaining why they would like to join the board. 

  • Ukie members who are eligible to vote in the election have been sent an email with a voting link by Civica, the independent company managing the election process. This has been sent to the main contact at each member. Please speak to your main contact to confirm receipt of the ballot paper and ask them to check their junk/spam folder if they haven't received it
  • There are FIVE spaces on the board at this year’s election. This means each member is able to cast a vote for FIVE different candidates (as per our election rules). Please cast votes for five candidates to ensure that your voice is heard as strongly as possible
  • If you have not received your ballot paper, have a problem with your vote or have a question about the process, please contact Sam Collins for assistance

The deadline for voting is 5pm on Thursday 9 September. The results will be announced at Ukie's AGM On Thursday 16 September, which you can sign up for here.

Ukie election rules

Contact Sam if you have a question

James Dobrowski, Managing Director, Sharkmob London - @JamesDobrowski

I'm James Dobrowski, Managing Director of Sharkmob London - a new AAA studio founded just last year.

I'm a passionate gamer at heart with a long love affair for MMOs, and whilst I've had a fairly broad career, I'm a game developer first and foremost. I care deeply about seeing our industry progress, both in terms of the ambition of our creative output (advancements in creative thinking and technical achievement), and the way in which we go about making games as developers - the two of which I believe are intrinsically linked.

I wanted to put myself forward for the UKIE board for this reason - I'm passionate about making our industry a better place to work, to drive improvements in the way we collaborate across our industry, and ultimately support progress in the games we make.

I have been fortunate in my career to see many corners of the industry, including development on most platforms, collaboration with larger AAA publishers as well as work on self-funded independent games, and experience across a wide variety of game genres and IPs. I've been on the founding team of two UK studios, seen multiple others through rapid growth phases, and been through the process of studio acquisition from both sides. I've also had the opportunity to work closely with game development teams across the world (including the US, China, Japan and wider Europe), bringing a broader perspective to how I go about running studios and making games today.

I'm excited for the opportunity to use my broad experience, along with my passion for seeing self-improvement across our industry, to support UKIE and the wider UK games community in whatever way I can. I believe our industry has a bright future ahead, however we're just getting started and there's a lot of work to be done.

Stephen Hutchins, Marketing Director, Hi-Rez

The world has changed a lot over the last two years, yet inequality and recklessness remain. The pandemic further accelerated gaming to the forefront of mainstream entertainment and with it we've seen the industry grow at a phenomenal rate. However, the increased engagement has also put more attention on those who prey on the weak. Whether not providing equal opportunities in the workplace or using environmentally damaging working practices, the games industry still has a lot of work to do before it can be a shining example to all.

For over a decade in the industry I've been championing mentorship and internship programs to enable a more diverse workforce to enter and grow in this industry, including open house events, student talks as well as work with the CIM, Limit Break and Hi-Rez on mentorship programs. Over the years, I've been lucky enough to have some great mentors and mentees from diverse backgrounds and can't overstate the value of the lessons I've learnt and am learning from them. I genuinely believe that fostering more collaborative and inclusive working cultures through methods like this leads to better games and business and would love the opportunity to continue to help develop these across our industry.

And what about our fragile global environment? As consumer shows return, will we return to producing thousands of cheap, disposable t-shirts or make use of more sustainable materials and processes? How will the changes in remote working and the latest computer hardware impact our industry's energy usage? I've sought out sustainable approaches to this line of challenges throughout my career, including the use of environmentally friendly inks and fabrics in trade show merchandise and looking for ways to better recycle old office hardware through systems like the Reboot Project. The climate crisis is now and there is much more we as an industry can do to ensure there is a world for future generations to enjoy.

We're lucky to be in an industry that is awash with data. Sifting through the noise to find the important insights has been a common thread in my work, whether at large or indie companies. I'd love to apply this data driven mindset to even more of the work that Ukie does to ensure that more of our industry's voices are heard and that we're making data informed decisions for sustainable change.

Phil Gaskell, Co founder & Creative Director, Ripstone Ltd - @ripstoner

I've been a part of this fabulous industry for more than 25 years now, having started in Format QA with the legendary Tony Bourne; I've worked at Sony, Psygnosis and Warthog & co-founded Ripstone just over 10 years ago with Leo Cubbin. I've worked on some phenomenally successful games but have also experienced my own special set of failures. Not once in either case though, has that been through a lack of enthusiasm or a willingness to succeed.

In everything Ripstone does these days we try to give something back to those that follow us, whether that is in diversity, relationships with local universities or technological advancement in the games we develop & publish, and I want to bring that enthusiasm along with an element of our own regional pizzazz to the UKIE Board.

To an extent Liverpool is where it all began in the heyday of the early 80s, and to push this fine city back to the forefront of our gaming fraternity would be a proud moment for both me and the region. I've watched the great and the good from this industry go before me and would love the opportunity to do something meaningful in return as part of UKIE. Coming from a relatively unique position today as a publisher of our internally developed games, but previously working with a number of externally developed titles, we're a developer who understands code but at the same time always has an eye on the critical commercial nature of what we do.

As Ripstone celebrates its 10th anniversary - a milestone for any company in this industry, we are continuing to grow and bring in new talent to take the company on to the next level, and I want to make sure I can contribute the same to the wider industry and to the benefit of all on the UKIE Board.

Brian Trunk, Head of Business for EMEA and LATAM, Wizards of the Coast

Hi everybody, my name's Brian Trunk. I've worked for Wizards of the Coast for 12 years and I'm currently the Senior Director, Head of EMEA & LATAM, based in Stockley Park, London.

Our background at Wizards is in tabletop gaming, across the globally renowned Dungeons & Dragons and Magic: The Gathering franchises, however, we have recently expanded into the videogame sector, releasing Magic: The Gathering Arena on mobile and Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance on consoles and PC this year alone. Our Stockley Park-based team is also expanding quickly, with many of our new UK hires coming from videogames publisher, distributor and retailer backgrounds.

We have exciting plans to continue our rapid expansion into videogaming and I believe that having a place on the UKIE board will allow me to contribute towards UKIE strategy and policy and support the team from a particularly unique viewpoint of a company which straddles both videogaming and tabletop gaming, whilst also being part of Hasbro, one of the biggest toy and entertainment companies in the world.

I'm a passionate gamer and would love to offer my enthusiasm, experience, and insights to add and contribute to the range of voices on the UKIE board and support our amazing interactive entertainment industry.

Thank you for taking the time to read and please don't hesitate to get in contact if you have any questions.

Jay Shin, Director, Arrogant Pixel LTD - @jaywshin

As a founding member of Arrogant Pixel LTD, I represent the interests of independent games studios that started with no funding and no connections in the industry - just a dream to make great games.  I have been creating games independently with my company for over 7+ years and have recently joined Curve Digital as a Business Development Manager.

I care deeply about creating sustainable careers for individuals, and making long term stability and success a reality for more UK studios - so much so that I'm pursuing a PhD at Birkbeck College, University of London.  Individual happiness and mental wellbeing within the industry is also very important to me. I want to help more creative professionals survive to reach retirement through information sharing at all levels and support the creation of better support systems within our current organisations.

I also deliver business development and interaction design modules to undergraduate students studying Games Art, Animation and Design at the University of West London. I believe strongly in training all aspiring creative professionals in basic management, business and financial literacy so that they leave University with practical knowledge and with confidence in the value of their work.

In my spare time, I am a server administrator of the WIGJ (Women In Games) discord group and am an active member of several game development communities such as GDL (Game Dev London) and She Plays Games Podcast.

I would like to join the UKIE board because I am really excited about the possibility of playing a more active role in bringing about positive change in the games industry. I hope that you will vote for me because I promise to attend absolutely everything and pay it forward in my vocal support for all UK indie teams. Thank you for reading!

Kosala Ubayasekara, Founder and CEO, W.R.K.S Games - @KosalaU

As a long-time entrepreneur, gamer, and now a game studio owner I feel it's important that the voice of the smaller Indie Developers and Publishers are well represented in the UKIE board. I have held numerous senior positions and NED positions before in companies but primarily I feel that W.R.K.S Games, being a remote-first, multinational, and very visibly diverse organization that puts its employees and community first by setting standards of equality and diversity at the forefront - represents the next generation of the development of the gaming industry and I would like to see those views and ethos represented at the trade body level.

Additionally, I have some significant views and detailed thoughts on what needs to be done at the industry and national level to ensure the UK and Europe remain a strong force in gaming as the industry now consolidates around the US and Chinese dominance at the global level. We need to push for greater visibility for smaller UK developers that make up the bulk of the industry here and develop greater exposure and channels of trade towards larger traditionally closed-off markets like China and Japan where the vast amount of UK developers struggle to make headway in growing their markets.

W.R.K.S Games is already building these pathways for itself, and the wider gaming community and I can illustrate how we are doing that and transition our learnings and insights to the wider trade body.

Chris Kempt, MD, Dead Five - @ChrisKempt

Hi there! I'm standing for election to the UKIE board because I believe passionately in both: UK businesses helping each-other to take-on the global marketplace, and the importance of smaller, independent studios having a voice in the discussion.

Having spent more than two decades running creative/digital studios, 15 years specialising in games, and much of the last decade helping other creative businesses to excel through my mentoring activities and participation in various trade associations (including four years as the Chair of the BIMA awards) I believe I can bring a strong network, lots of experience/expertise and some smashing ideas to the table.

Being honest though, doing all this took its toll on me - I worked myself too hard and, a few years back I got a nasty case of the cancers as a result (I'm fine now, woohoo!). So, I also feel strongly about helping other people to avoid making the same, stupid, mistakes that I did, and I hope I can make a difference in that regard via a seat on the UKIE board.

Thanks for reading and, hopefully, for your vote!

Max Everingham, Head of PC & Console Publishing, Kwalee Ltd - @max_everingham

I have spent the majority of my career in videogaming, starting out in 1995 as a Japan correspondent based in Chiba, became Editor in Chief of the official Xbox magazine in the UK and held various other EIC and editorial jobs for Imagine Media & Future Publishing. I joined Codemasters in 2003 as brand manager on the TOCA (GRID) and Colin McRae (DiRT) franchises.

I have since worked in marketing and senior management capacities for Pandemic/ EA, Ubisoft, etc and run a successful video games consultancy business as owner/principal from 2009; one of four start up companies with which I have been involved. Most recently, I ran the commercial side of a publicly traded $1.3 billion-dollar cap videogame company, with the day-to-day responsibilities of a Chief Commercial Officer and now work at Kwalee, establishing a PC and Console publishing business. I love, live and breathe games, even when I was a CEO running a rally in Adelaide and, later, a senior diplomat (Consul) and Commonwealth specialist working in counter terrorism!

I think I would be a down-to-earth and practical contributor to the UKIE board from a perspective of someone who has spent over 26 years in the industry, established their own business in the games industry as well as having occupied several leadership positions, in AAA and Indie companies. I am a lifelong supporter of diversity and equal rights for everyone (the only two times I was almost arrested was at a sexual equality ‘action' in my home town at 16 years old and at a similar rally at University!) and my own background (despite how I look!) and immediate family are mixed race.

I would be honoured to be selected to sit on the UKIE board. Thank you for your consideration.

Jo Cooke,  Marketing Director, Bossa Studios

I started my career at Computer and Video Games magazine over 30 years ago and have seen through and launched games on every format since. From publishing with Ocean software, setting up EMEA marketing & distribution with Maxis, launching a full digital distribution and publishing division for Frontier Developments, which changed the face and fortunes of their business and many other games companies in between.

I have experience outside of the industry with digital distribution of music, Philips Electronics middleware and more recently the marketing of large global brands with Omnicom Media Group. I have always deeply supported, defended and championed the Games Industry which I am not only passionate about but have played my part over the years to make it what it is today.

Having a deep experience of the industry coupled with a wider perspective of the modern marketing landscape I feel I am in a unique position to bring that combined experience to support new and existing UKIE members, and further support our evolving industry.

I am a passionate advocate of zero tolerance towards toxicity in gaming, in the business environment and between gamers. I personally have received rape threats from players who believe it is ok to express their disgruntlement in with a game up-date in that way. With 1 in 3 female gamers saying the toxicity they experience from other players makes them not want to play again, it is imperative we take a stand to ensure the gameplay experience is accessible to as diverse an audience as it can be, enabling safe gaming for all.

Now back in the Industry and helping shape a new Bossa Studios strategy I feel the time is right for me to play a larger part in the Industry and bring my experience to bear as a UKIE board member.

Robert Kinder, Publishing Director, Payload Studios - @DocRobotnik

The UK games industry can be a vibrant, diverse, exciting place to work, but like many other industries, it faces its fair share of challenges.

I am hoping to join the Ukie board as I have a desire to introduce positive change, and to highlight and enhance the hard work already being done by many people and organisations, to support, grow and improve the industry in the UK.

Having helped over 150 developers show and share their work over the last five years, I am a huge supporter of independent development, and for providing more opportunities for new and aspiring developers to produce and publish their creations.

I would like to advocate for more initiatives like Payload Studios Tentacle Zone Incubator, where founders from backgrounds traditionally underrepresented in the games industry were sponsored. This initiative was run by passionate developers who are enacting real change, and I’d like to see this taken further.

As a gamer and a parent of a child with a disability, I am particularly keen on ensuring that children and young gamers are protected both on and offline, through better education for parents and carers, and from continued, excellent charitable support from the likes of Special Effect.

Being on the Ukie board would provide an excellent opportunity to make a significant impact on the direction we take as an industry, and I’m keen to do my part and help make the UK games industry a more supportive, inclusive and welcoming place to work and play.

I believe I could make a meaningful contribution and I would be grateful for your support.

Dan Bernardo, Co-Founder and Game Director, Playtra Games - @Danbesaints

I would like to contribute and support the discussion and initiatives UKIE creates to development of the industry in the UK, especially when it comes to the intersection of race, culture, and sexual identity in games.

I've been advocating towards an more open industry, willing to take risks in both game design and the projects greenlit for new developers and artists since my first days in the industry and I'm now sitting at the Devcom Advisory Board, fighting for a long-term commitment to diversity instead of temporary reliefs, as we see today.

As an active voice at UKIE I feel that I can do more to keep those issues top of mind.

Thomas Hegarty, Co-CEO, Roll7 - @thomas_hegarty

I am immensely proud and honoured to have already served two years as a UKIE board member and I am reapplying in the hope of continuing my contribution in helping shape and promote this life-, and culture-changing industry.

I have been in the video games industry since 2005; initially running education programmes for under-represented young people, and latterly as the Co-CEO of Roll7. I have seen first-hand the lasting and positive impact video games courses can have on young people in the formative stages of their lives - in some cases, supporting them to find work, re-enter education and avoid falling into crime.

Through leading Roll7 and developing our own IP, I have also seen video games entertain and engage players of all ages, creating incredibly emotive and life-changing experiences.

It is as co-CEO that I have successfully navigated our fully-independent studio through the turbulence of the past two years. I therefore feel I am in a prime position to continue supporting UKIE through the uncertain times ahead including challenging the wider industry on its working practices - particularly in relation to some of the more unseemly incidents we have seen recently.

As we begin learning what it means to live with Covid, our industry faces a series of unique challenges such as developing hybrid home/office working models, navigating the upcoming DCMS recommendations on Lootboxes and crucially, building on existing progress championing diversity and inclusion.

The recent changes to term lengths to serve on the UKIE board has paved the way for new faces, fresh perspectives and exciting ideas; however, it has also meant the moving on of many veteran and experienced voices.  I believe my continued tenure will provide some consistency and constancy in guiding UKIE through this transition period into the new normal.