Dojit Blog about Ian Livingstone speech Part 2.

Seeing Ian Livingston was a revelation for me personally. It was the catalyst to me wanting to join dojit games and make a dent in the universe. To do something positive, to create games which add value, which teach things, which change the world and mind of the player – even if only for a minute.

I don’t know if Ian had such dreams when they started with Fighting Fantasy or with Games Workshop or even with Lara Croft and Edios studios – but I do know he has a massive passion for what gaming itself (as an industry) will do for the UK economy and for society in general.

To read more about it – I would suggest you read Gen Next – which outlines some great ideas on how the government can help the gaming industry which is set to contribute just under 1 billion to GDP in 2013 and has the potential of turning over more revenue than filming and music combined for the UK.

And yet when do you hear such news? Ian’s rally cry is around this. And an inspiration to all of us involved in UK mobile gaming development.  His points are two fold – both which ring home true for dojit.

One, education is all important. Not just stealth education through the gamifaction of education (which we as a company are doing with titles like Soccer Zillionaire) but also hand on skills education of the next generation. As Ian put it – “We are teaching people how to read but not how to write.” It is this writing which is essential for the growth of mobile gaming development in the UK.

We know this at dojit games and therefore try to give as many interns positions as possible. We give them the hand ons training in a work environment to work on real projects they need. With dojit you will make real games, you will make a difference. BUT we cannot make interns know about coding, about programming, about UX – this is the job of universities, of schools and of the government to get such coding into the curriculum.

His other point – branches into five sub points – all worth covering – as important to the mobile gaming industry as well as the more traditional gaming industries which Ian’s Lara Coft was born from. This is what Ian called the 5 P’s.  Perception, Pipes, Property, Pounds and People.

I will go through those more relevant to dojit for speed and ease. The three takeaways for me are:

Perception:

Having to change the instant though and public view of computer games as just Grand Theft Auto (but we should be proud of that too…) but more into the worlds of social, casual, and positive gaming experiences. Something we do here at dojit – and so our successes will help this process. As will the success of

Pounds

With gaming bringing in more money into the UK than film and music combined we can make a very solid case for more funding. Not just for individual companies like dojit, but for collaboration projects and for the gamifaction of new areas where we might see instant returns like health or education. Some in roads are already being made with organisations like Creative England and their £250,000 fund into health apps in March 2013.

People

Gaming companies also need the people with the right skills for the job, not just the technical people who make great code, but those softer skills in social media, in mobile marketing, in UX design, in the things that made games like Angry Birds and Clash of Clans such successes.  We need people with passion for games – something we have hear at dojit games. Want to join us? 

Dojit Blog about Ian Livingstone speech: Part 1.

It was interesting to hear the man speak.

To some his books became the gamifaction of literature (Fighting Fantasy) to others he was responsible for their high school crush on a computer game (with Lara Croft) and to those even older – he was the reason they may have got dressed up as a wizard once or twice to often to roll dice in a dungeon with his Games Workshops monopolies.
No matter who he is to you (and to some young people he is simply nothing at all) the ideas of Ian Livingstone to me are more relevant today with us at Dojit Games than ever before.
As Dojit, like Ian’s first works, doesn’t know how big they will become. We just don’t know if happy and optimistic gaming to help children interact with mobiles, will catch on as much as the “almost bigger than bond” figure of Lara Croft. Even as a concept.
But what did we learn from him?
Ian’s first business, with Lara Croft (first called Lara Cruz) planned to hope to sell ½ million for the whole duration of the game’s life. In the end, they sold 7 million in first year and now more than 20 years on, and a couple of heart breaks later, Lara Croft has sold over 30 million copies had countless spin offs into mercanising and IP. Giving those working on it and in it a billion pounds worth of revenue. Add to this getting to meet Angelina Jolie a couple of times and those films bringing in another ½ billion and you can see a very happy man take to the stage at #yourcreativefuture in his home town of Manchester. So the take home – Create your own IP and retain the ownership no matter what. As Ian said – “Control your own destiny. Don’t have someone do it for you”.
Could our Home Bear – become a soft toy? Could we launch a series of geo location toys? Who knows?
Another thing we learnt from the talk was “do what you are good at – and nothing else”. Ian learnt this the hard way. Did you know that at the peak of Lara Croft mania, the company got so big that they even recorded an album! Which they never launched, I have heard it – it is awful (truly awful) but the company in the end knew it was bad and had the decency to never launch it…
Would Ian had done things differently with his amazing successes? I don’t think so I have the feeling not.
But did he had any tips for us, brand new start up businesses, making games for mobile phones?
He did. But strangely not directly even though he admitted that whilst the games industry is now worth $50 billion and predicted to grow to $90 billion by 2015, that this was the year of the tipping point for digital downloads. And as he put it – Once this has happened you can never go back.
And so this changes the infrastructure, it changes the ecology and the ecosystem for gaming in general. With a now huge opportunity for the right people to make mini games companies and do very well i.e. he used for example – the one Danish guy made Minecraft. But as he put it – For every one Angry Birds there are a million dead birds. Even Rovio, Angry Birds developers, had 57 no shows before their iconic success.
No matter whether it is digital download, freemium (which he thinks is the way to go citing Clash of Clan’s in app purchase model now creating $1 million a day, or triple AAA big releases, for Ian it’s all about the gameplay and nothing else. As he said it “otherwise you would be making films”. For computer games – it’s the experience of playing not of viewing that makes the difference. Our takeway – UX is EVERYTHING.