You’re Director of Immersive Technologies at Make Real, in Brighton?
I am. Apparently, I’m the 12th most influential VR person in the world! Make Real is an ‘immersive content’ studio. It was founded by people with a background in full flight simulators and the games industry. Today we focus on immersive technologies, offering a unique blend of absolute technical performance and accuracy, coupled with the driving ethos of gaming: fun, where players are motivated by a carefully-considered design, incorporating progression and rewards. We also believe in technology for good, and operate under the banner of ‘serious fun’.
The client-based work we do is about 70% enterprise and 30% entertainment – which pleasingly (to my mind) mirrors the 7:3 ratio of the two words ‘serious fun’! We’re unusual in having a dedicated R&D team, who spend their time testing out new technologies. We’re renowned for our content, and enjoy leaving little ‘Easter egg’ surprises for users even in the most serious learning contexts. Our team has grown from four to 25 since I joined; we’re mostly aged over 35 too, so life-work balance is prioritised.
You also set up the Lewes Boardgamers Club?
I moved back to Lewes (having originally grown-up here) 12 years ago. I set up the club, partly really to kick start a social life. We meet fortnightly, on Tuesday evenings, currently in the Elephant and Castle. We’re the nerds in the corner, but people do wander over. The games we play are visually appealing – intricate and made of wood. We typically play Eurogames – the so-called gateway games, like Catan, or Carcassonne or Ticket to Ride and more complex affairs too. There are about ten to 15 regulars (unlike the Brighton Boardgamers, which has 3,000 members!), and newcomers are always welcome. (There’s also another, newer Lewes club, that meets at St John sub Castro, see page 14.)
Every game has a ruleset: in each case, you grow skilled in understanding how to excel within those rules. It’s a kind of athleticism of the mind-muscle. I think adults, with all our responsibilities, can forget how to have fun.
You grew up in Lewes?
I did. I lived in Leicester Road, and went to Western Road, when it was in Spital Road, and Priory. Then Lewes Tertiary College (now East Sussex College), which I dropped out of in the second year for family reasons. But then I went back and did an AS Level, and ended up in Leicester De Montfort University, on the then (in 1996) brand-new Multimedia Computing course. After graduating, I moved to Brighton for ten years, met my wife, and we thought about moving to Lewes so came over to visit: the first time I had done so in a decade. Sitting in Bill’s we picked up the Sussex Express and there, in the ‘Do you remember when?’ section was a picture of the Western Road football team with me in it! This I took to be a sign…