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Video games and literacy - how games industry workers use literacy in their day jobs

Did you know that over 30,000 people work in the games industry in the UK? Every day, up and down the country, thousands of people work together to make and release the next great game that you may end up falling in love with.

What you might not have realised is just how important literacy is to the games industry as a whole. Communicating with other people is essential for coming up with an idea for a game, designing it and making it stand out to players.

So, how do games industry professionals use literacy in their day jobs? We spoke to 12 people working across games to find out how they use literacy skills in their work and about the books that inspired them when they were younger.


Victoria Boyce – Systems Designer, Rebellion

Literacy helps me in my job because I need to do a lot of reading and researching in a variety of topics. I also find reading stories helps to fuel my imagination, which can help a lot when coming up with ideas as a designer.

I also need literacy so I can communicate my designs effectively with my team too.

Favourite book from childhood: Matilda by Roald Dahl

Matt Firor, President of Zenimax Online

Leading a game development studio is as much a daily exercise in communication skills as it is a melting pot of ideas. It would be impossible to hold all the thread together without strong literacy skills.

Favourite book from childhood: Impossible to pick. It’s like picking my favourite oxygen to breathe!

Conor Clarke – Marketing and Communications, National Videogame Museum

In order to best share how amazing games are, I need to be able to communicate effectively. The best writing is always simple and clear to read. I would never be able to do my job if I didn't learn how to do that from books! From writing blog posts, to emails, to flyers, I am always looking to share information as efficiently as possible.

Favourite book from childhood: City of Thieves by Ian Livingstone

Ryan King - PR Manager, Sega

My job as a PR means I have to communicate clearly and effective with a wide range of people on a daily basis. Literacy is essential to doing my job well and also a big reason why I enjoy my job so much – I love language and communications, which can all be traced back to my early love of reading.

Favourite book from childhood: Funnybones by Allen Ahlberg

Jo Daly – Development Director, Wushu Studios

Literacy and communication generally are vital in my job whether that be in sharing thoughts and ideas with our team and clients or planning and managing how we make a game, being able to relate and comprehend information effectively is key to making things happen when developing computer games.

Favourite book from childhood: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Adam Pearce – Programmer, EA Criterion

Although it might not seem the most obvious skill for a game developer, I've learnt that it's not only what you make but how you communicate that to others that gets you ahead in the industry. Literacy plays a big part in this. Whether it's a presentation to pitch your game, or just sending an email/message to your colleagues, it's important to be clear and concise. The games industry is very collaborative and so it really helps to be able to be able to portray the idea or emotion that you want to get across.

Favourite book from childhood: The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S Lewis

Mel Cummings – Concept Artist

As a concept artist, I often have to read written descriptions of vehicles and use my imagination to create designs from them. Sometimes these descriptions are from books which a game is based on. I also have to write descriptions of what my design is and how it works. Literacy has helped me be able to develop an imagination that can be expanded through reading descriptions written by other people. It has also helped me to express my ideas when I write my own descriptions for the things I design.

Favourite book from childhood: His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman

Sitara Shefta - Founder, No Brakes Studio

Literacy is the key component of making my role work on a day-to-day basis, as it enables me to communicate with a wide variety of people. Reading developed my creativity, and my ability to interact with people in different ways.

Favourite book from childhood: George’s Marvellous Medicine by Roald Dahl

Dave Osborne - Lead Designer for Runescape, Jagex

As a game designer, I practice empathy all the time as, if I want someone to play my game, I need to understand the audience and their values. My empathy comes from literacy and reading. When I read, I step into another person’s world, I hear their voice and accept their way of thinking. It’s fantastic for triggering my own ideas, and – most importantly – literacy gives me the tools to understand how others think.

Favourite book from childhood: Lone Wolf by Joe Dever

Chel Webster – QA Technician, Bossa Studios

When I find bugs and give feedback to teammates, I need to articulate (sometimes complicated) issues and instructions clearly. Delivery matters too, when your whole job is telling people what is wrong with their work! Not to mention finding spelling and grammar mistakes in the games themselves.  

Favourite book from childhood: What If? Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions by Randall Munroe

Laurence Bouvard – Voiceover artist

As an actress and audio performer working in games and other types of media, my job constantly relies on my reading ability. I need to be able to sightread; to instantly understand and pronounce vast amounts of vocabulary; to interpret text and bring incredible tales to life off the page. Reading aloud and telling stories was a special treat as a child - now I get paid to do it as a career, and I love every minute of it.

Favourite book from childhood: The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum

Ian Livingstone CBE - Non-executive Chairman of the Board, Sumo Group

It helps in multiple ways from self expression to creativity to communication skills and much, much more.

Favourite book from childhood: The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Find out more about the link between games and literacy – including useful resources – at www.literacytrust.org.uk/videogames