Executive Vice President, Ninja Kiwi.
Abertay had a huge impact on me. My 4th-year honours project ultimately led me to where I am today. I was studying BSc (Hons) Computing (Games Dev) and one option was to make a mobile phone game.
I had just bought myself a Samsung T100 so thought I would choose to make a game for that.
I created a game called Babygrow, which was a Tamagotchi-style game that gave the user a virtual baby in the palm of their hand. I teamed up with one of my classmates, Barry Petrie, and we pitched Babygrow to the Universities Embreonix programme (a business incubator) at the same time as studying for my Postgraduate Diploma in Entrepreneurship. We got accepted on the course, formed a company called Digital Goldfish and our first commercial game was Babygrow.
After finishing my PGDip we then carried on with Digital Goldfish and released another mobile phone game called Reach For The Starz. When the iPhone came out in 2007, we partnered up with a New Zealand company called Ninja Kiwi and brought their popular flash game Bloons to the App Store. It went straight to number 1 in America and the company really grew from there. In 2012, after working with Ninja Kiwi for five years, they bought Digital Goldfish. We now have a team of 30 in our Dundee studio and 35 in the Auckland office.
Today I co-manage the Dundee studio of Ninja Kiwi so there are never two days the same. One day I could be implementing a new feature in one of our games, the next day I could be in meetings all day with external partners.
I think the history of Abertay helps it keep strong in the field of games. I wouldn't have been inspired to study a games course and to start a games company straight from University if Dave Jones hadn’t started DMA Design. Another thing is how closely Abertay works with the games companies locally.
Being able to make games for a living is a dream come true so I hope in the future I am still doing what I am currently doing… with a few more successful games behind me!
The games industry will always be evolving which is what keeps it exciting.
I mean, before 2007 nobody could have predicted the change that the App Stores brought in gaming.
My advice to my younger self would be to be patient. It is not going to happen overnight and it's not going to be easy. As the saying goes: If it was easy, everyone else would be doing it.
I will probably have to be selfish in my games influences and say Babygrow as that is what started Digital Goldfish. It won't be on anyone else's list though, that's for sure! Ha!